Helen has a new boyfriend but has to share him with an ex-wife and three children who all adore him. Work as a private investigator has dried up, she's lost her flat and has to move back home with her parents who aren't that pleased to see her. Worse still, the depression she's been fighting off is looming over her, threatening to sink its teeth in at any moment. So when she's offered a job searching for boy band member Wayne who's gone missing just before the band's sell-out reunion gig, Helen is glad of the work.
This is a hard book to review. While it has elements of Marian Keye's brilliant humour, it is also very much a book about depression. I wasn't sure if it was working at first, it didn't feel right to be laughing at Helen's irreverence one moment and then being horrified at the darkness of her moods the next. I think also most people will identify with some of the things she goes through, the anxiety, the fear, the sense of isolation. So for a long time I wished the book would either be a straightforward excellent comedy of the kind Ms Keyes writes so well, or a straightforward book about depression. The slapstick elements of the search for Wayne in particular didn't seem to fit.
However by the end of the book, I was convinced this is actually a work of genius. Both elements are neatly linked at the end and while depression is never trivialised, there is a sense of hope.
I absolutely loved this book. Stay with it and hopefully you will too.
Firstly, I have to own up to really liking Marian Keyes books. I think I have enjoyed all of them. If you are of the same mind, I really don't think this book is going to disappoint.
We revisit the Walsh family. As families go, they are probably a bit more screwed up and unusual than most but Ms Keyes never strays beyond the believable. This time it's the turn of Helen, the youngest. Helen has suffered a severe bout of depression in the past and is well on her way - terrified - into a new bout. In most cases, that would suggest a book that was heavy and gloomy. Yet, as always, Ms Keyes manages to combine a realistic and sensitive understanding of emotional problems with a book which is often laugh-out-loud funny and always quite gripping. I never felt dragged down by it, even while I could empathise with Helen's dread and fear. In any event, the descent into depression is interwoven into the main story, a missing persons case, in a way that doesn't detract from the mystery/thriller feel to this main story. Nor are her personal relationships neglected. You live Helen's life with her and it is a well-rounded and complete-feeling book and in that sense is very satisfying - no part is left sketchy and incomplete.
on 22 September 2012
Marian Keyes has been one of my favourite authors ever since I can remember so seeing one of her books hit the shelves always fills me with excitement. The Mystery of Mercy Close is the fifth and final Walsh sister book, featuring the youngest Walsh sister, Helen. Although I was sure the book would be another fantastic read, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Helen. We already met her in her sisters' books when she was still a teenager - she was the pretty and popular one who was known for her sharp tongue, her sarcasm and brutal honesty. She was hilarious in her own way but for some reason I could never relate to her character as much as I could to some of her sisters'. Which was another reason why I've been so eagerly waiting for this book - I was really intrigued to see how her quirky character would work if she had her `own book' and to see how much she's changed throughout the years. As it turns out, she has changed a lot. So much so that a few chapters in she became my favourite Walsh sister and The Mystery of Mercy Close turned out to be my favourite book from the series.
I loved this story for so many different reasons. Helen is a great narrator - she's sarcastic, she doesn't care what people think about her, but she's witty and more importantly, very entertaining. The book itself is quite fast paced - a lot faster than any of the previous four books were - and there's literally not one dull moment. Keyes has never written mysteries or anything like this before but she pulled it off perfectly. She kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish and I literally couldn't tell what was going to happen next. As a huge mystery/crime fan I loved the fact that I kept guessing almost till the end and even though I had at least three different solutions for Wayne's disappearance, none of them were right. (It all starts to make sense towards the last ninety pages or so, and once you figure out what the title - which is another brilliant touch - refers to you've figured out where Wayne is but even then, you just can't predict how it's all going to end.)
On top of these countless twists and turns, another thing that makes The Mystery of Mercy Close so unique is the fact that there are basically two completely different stories within the book. On the one hand, there's the investigation and the whole Laddz business but on the other hand, there's Helen's own story, her battle with depression and everything she's been through in the past. Since Keyes herself has been diagnosed with depression back in 2009 and the book was written in the following years, Helen's take on this issue is frighteningly real. The way she describes how desperate, helpless and afraid she felt, how nothing seemed to help and how she got to the point where she even had a suicide kit is both heartbreaking and beautifully written. Keyes went through the exact same things (including going into psychiatric hospital and even having the suicide kit) and describes them in such detail, with such honesty that I was moved to tears several times throughout the story. But at the same time, the book has quite an optimistic message as well: Helen's story is proof that things do get better eventually. You might not be the same person as you were before but you will get better and this, just like everything else, will pass.
If I had to sum this book up in five words, I'd say it was worth the wait. I know I won't be able to do it justice no matter how much longer I carry on but I really hope you'll pick it up. Don't worry if you haven't read the previous four books, there are no major spoilers and it doesn't really matter what order you read them in. The Mystery of Mercy Close is a marvellous page-turner with a hilariously funny narrator and a fantastic plot which will definitely stay with you for a long time. I loved every second of it!
I don't think I enjoyed this quite as much as some of her other novels,but considering that Marion Keyes has been suffering from such crippling depression that it was feared she may never write again,she has worked wonders.I really liked the idea of a mystery story for a change,and I must say I could not figure out where Wayne was at all.
I didn't feel there was much chemistry between Helen and her boyfriend,Artie,but I really enjoyed catching up with the Walshes,and I LOL'd when the Laddz were trying on their swan outfits!
I really loved Helen's Shovel List,a list she keeps in her head of people and things she hates so much she would like to hit them in the face with a shovel. I liked the way she brought depression into the story,and hope that it will help anyone who is going through depression to realise that they are not alone.
I did enjoy the book,and would recommend it,and I'm so glad that Marion's back!
on 22 January 2014
I was almost put off by various reviews from reading this but I am so glad I decided to trust my own judgement!
I have read pretty much everything by Ms Keyes, and although chic lit is not really my thing any more I've always found her to be the thinking woman's chic-litter, along with JoJo Moyes' more recent stuff (as if I knew about thinking!).
In fact I WAS a bit disappointed with The Brightest Star in the Sky but this, for me, was a really pleasing return to form. I am not a great detective story fan, but it seems to me that the private investigation bit was written firmly tongue in cheek, and all the better for it. And yet again, alongside laugh out loud moments, her trademark wonderful dialogue and the stupendous Mammy Walsh pottering around in the background, there is a heartbreakingly serious kernel treated sensitively and of course with inside knowledge.
This is indeed a little bit different from her usual character-rich, plot light style (still character rich, but a bit more plot this time) but that to me just proves how versatile this writer is.
Stay well Marian (no pressure!!) I am really looking forward to the next one ....Kate maybe? Or how about giving Mammy and Daddy Walsh a book all of their own....
Fans everywhere were eagerly awaiting the return of Marian Keyes and her latest book, The Mystery Of Mercy Close, and we weren't disappointed This book not only sees the return of one of the greatest authors around, but also the return of The Walsh sisters, and in this particular book, focusing on Helen.
Marian Keyes has to be praised for doing a fantastic job in highlighting mental health and depression. It seems to be something that isn't addressed as much as it should be, and Marian Keyes has not only just highlighted it, but she has given her many readers a big insight into what life is like with mental health, not only adding a lot of depth to the story but a lot of knowledge too. As someone who has relations who suffer with mental health, I really loved that Marian Keyes has had the courage to write about this, and I think this book could help change opinions on mental health, and help towards acceptance and a wider knowledge of these serious issues.
I loved the writing style of the book, it was almost as if Helen was sat chatting and narrating her life so far in front of me. as I've mentioned before, in the book it is discovered that Helen has previously suffered with depression and is living in fear of being hit by it again. Helen is brilliantly written as a character, she has a lot of depth and through her narrative we slowly learn about her background, her personality and we are given an insight into the world of Helen and what life is like for her.
I enjoyed learning about Wayne.Throughout the story we slowly discover little bits about Wayne and all of these pieces put together help us to build up a picture of him. I loved the mystery of Wayne, it was gripping, it was interesting and it had me keen to find out what had happened to him.
Even though there is focus on mental health and depression, this is not a sad book. There are some funny moments, and Helen's personality and the way she describes the world makes you warm to her instantly. There are many humourous moments throughout, with a cast of likeable characters around Helen.
Marian Keyes has written a book that truly gets the message across to its readers. It is an engaging story that has many layers throughout. It is great to see Marian Keyes back!
on 11 October 2012
I listened to this as an audible book while running. What a great motive to get running every morning. I love the Walsh sisters books and think they are best. So funny yet poignant too. Read the Mammy Walsh book before it to remind me about the other family members, hilarious.
Firstly I am not Keyesaphile, Marianmaniac or whatever the No 1 fans/experts of Marian Keyes are called these days but I have read and enjoyed a few of her previous novels. Also I have followed Marian's very candid online thoughts on her crippling depression and I think she has done so much to help destigmatize an illness which, in its many different forms, is extremely debilitating.
I followed a fellow reader's advice and downloaded Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family to refresh my memory of this madcap bunch and inadvertently irritate the life out of my family by bursting into laughter at unexpected and often inappropriate moments...do not bring your Kindle to mass...it was before things started, in case you're wondering... Anyway, I felt more confident about Mercy Close now that I remembered who was who and got into the Walsh way...but don't expect a bundle of laughs from the outset.
Helen Walsh is a complex character (like any female)and whilst she might come out with the odd one-liner and try to put a brave face on things because after all there is no thing such as depression according to the word of Mammy Walsh, she is a cauldron of emotions which threaten to engulf her at any moment. Ireland is in a state of chassis and the Celtic Tiger is more Tabby cat-like these days. Helen is feeling the effects of the recession and has to reluctantly return to the bosom of her family when she loses her flat, her livelihood and her self-esteem is at an all time low. You probably won't like her very much but then chronic depression doesn't exactly endear others to you!
I really enjoyed this manic tale, filled with equal amounts of joy and sadness just like "normal" life with its ups and downs. Yes, the "mystery" is quite simplistic but scratch beneath the surface and there are complex emotions at play. Marian Keyes is a very talented and insightful author who confidently treads that fine line between comedy and tragedy. Bravo!
"The Mystery of Mercy Close," is the fifth in the Walsh Family series after "Watermelon," "Rachel's Holiday," "Angels," and "Anybody Out There." This time the focus is on youngest sibling Helen Walsh, a private investigator who has fallen on hard times and is falling deeper into depression. However, when her ex Jay Parker asks for her help in finding 90's boy band star Wayne Diffney, she throws herself into her work as she hurries to find Wayne before boy band Laddz reunion concert in 5 days time.
Keyes' chatty, modern style is evident here in her eleventh novel, albeit peppered with a dark humour that hints at Marian's own recent battle with depression. As usual, her Irish charm and references to popular culture are in full flow and *spoiler alert* despite guessing the mysterious location of Diffney on the first page, I'm sure fans of Keyes will also enjoy this novel. Whilst I would recommend reading the Walsh Family books in order it is not essential as I had forgotten about a lot of the characters traits due to the long time in between publishing but you can also catch up with Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family: An Ebook Short. This is a fast paced novel which reminded me a little of Cecelia Ahern's recent novel "One Hundred Names."
The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes for me was a wonderful read not only was it a book which caught my attention immediately but Marian Keyes used her own experiences of depression and used them within the book and showed how depression can really take over your whole life when you least expect it and it does not need a tragedy of any kind for depression to enter your life.
The main character of the book is Helen Walsh one of the many daughters of our favourite Dublin residents Mammy Walsh. Helen in the past has suffered badly from depression and is living in fear of having to go through the same illness once again. Throughout the book you learn how far down Helen's depression took her and how scary an experience she had, it was fully understandable how afraid Helen was off depression and Marian also showed through her writing how hard it is to get the correct treatment for depression as sometimes it is difficult to get the correct medication and it was at times a matter of trial and error with the GP searching for the correct treatment. Marian clearly writes about what she knows and I feel with her suffering herself from depression wrote a book which was not only has an engaging story but also a book which would even help those who have suffered from depression or is suffering from it presently in time.
Helen is the main character of this book and she narrates her own story as she has to return to living with Mammy and Daddy Walsh as her work has dried up with the famous Irish recession, well who can afford to employ a Private Detective so when her ex-boyfriend comes to her with a job Helen has to forget her pride and take the job. As Helen battles once again with depression she has been asked to search for Wayne a member of a popular singing group called Laddz who have announced a comeback and the only way of this comeback being a success is that all members of the boy band are present when the comeback starts. Each member of the group is famous for different things like all good boy groups and it is clear that Wayne is the talented member. But where is he gone? This is a rather massive mystery as Helen searches for him in all known and unknown places as she searches she gets into a few scrapes which any good carry on film would include and through these she gives me many laughs throughout the book. Along with the famous Irish Craic which I will always love within any book and mix in Irish sarcasm this book for me though it had a serious side its light-hearted side shone brightly which balanced the book wonderfully.
The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes is a book which I would highly recommend to all readers of Irish fiction with a comedy element throughout, once you have read one of Marian's books you will certainly understand how her humour works and how she can bring laughs in to the most unlikely places. As Helen searches for her mystery in Mercy Close along with the very mysterious Wayne the missing band member you will enjoy the fun of it but you will also understand how life destroying depression can be to a person no matter where they are in life's journey. This for me was not only a wonderful book but one which showed me that when depression strikes there are people out there who fully understands what you are going through and that in itself is a small help which means so much. Thank you Marian Keyes for writing this book, I hope you fully understand how many people you have aided through your gift of words and understanding.