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This review is from: The Mystery of Mercy Close (Walsh Family Book 5) (Kindle Edition)
Marian Keyes certainly knows how to put her characters through life changing and difficult events - this is her fifth in the series about the Walsh family and so far the sisters have experienced (and survived) relationship break-ups, bereavement, infertility and addiction. In this installment we reach Helen's story and we realise from the beginning that this is a tale of depression and mental health issues. You don't have to have read the others to understand this book - although you will enjoy them very much if you do.
Helen is a private investigator who has fallen on difficult times as the Irish economy collapses. She is contacted by an old flame (with whom she had a difficult parting), Jay Parker, to investigate the disappearance of an aging pop star who has vanished just as the ex-boy band of which he is a member have scheduled some comeback concerts. No one can afford for the concerts not to happen and Helen has only a few days to find Wayne, but everyone seems to be keeping secrets. Helen has lots of skill and experience but she doesn't have a flat, any money, any friends, a settled relationship or any credit - and her mental health is beginning to break down and, worse, she is having to live at home. She must use her investigative skills (extensive) and her tact and diplomacy (non-existent) to track down what has happened to Wayne and get him back in time to save the show.
This is not really a mystery story, as it is pretty obvious what must have happened to Wayne after just a few chapters. It is also not really a story about Helen's mental breakdown although this plays a large part in the plot. This is really a witty, amusing and insightful story about one person who suffers from chronic depression and how she faces up to life. Parts of it are laugh out loud funny, especially where the author uses her undoubted gift for observation, and parts of it are very touching, especially as Helen finds herself caught once again in the spiral of mental illness with no obvious way through. All of it is gripping and absorbing reading. I engaged completely with Helen and her issues and was willing her on to solve the mystery, resolve the problems in her relationship and triumph over the debilitating effects of her illness. I found the book very optimistic and life affirming, as well as sarcastic and ironic.
I had long thought that Rachel's Holiday and Anybody Out There were the best of this series of novels but I definitely think that this novel is as good as either of them. A really satisfying and rewarding read.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Sep 2012 11:33:00 BDT
Thanks for this. A detailed review that doesn't give too much away yet releases enough to tempt one in. Not that I need any tempting. Marion Keyes is for me one of the best writers of fiction for this era. Note: not best writer of women's fiction, but a writer for us all. She is supremely gifted - though sadly, those gifts, like so many before her and doubtless those who will follow, come with a price. I wish Marion Keyes well in her recovery from her own depression which has surely informed this novel, and I applaud her courage. Helen's story must have elements of her own which lends a powerful authenticity as a result. I shall buy it now. Life is so delicious when you're deep into a Marion Keyes novel!
Posted on 20 Sep 2012 21:06:00 BDT
Ray Grant says:
I was quite surprised when I discovered what happened to Wayne! :) Brilliant, brilliant book.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Sep 2012 21:38:54 BDT
I think that the clues were there and, probably as I read a lot of suspense fiction, I picked up on them at an early stage. It certainly didn't spoil the book for me at all as you can see from my review.
Posted on 23 Sep 2012 17:06:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 Sep 2012 17:07:52 BDT
Didn't any of you who've read all the other Walsh family books find it a bit unrealistic that Helen should be the one suffering from depression? In places, I thought Marian K was superimposing her own voice over Helen's brusque no-nonsense narrative and it jarred. Example: 'it feels like someone is holding a flame up against my soul.' That's Marian's voice, not Helen's. Also wished Rachel had been more helpful and we knew how she was getting on, as her depression was portrayed, for me, more realistically.
In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2012 18:50:01 BDT
Last edited by the author on 25 Sep 2012 18:47:05 BDT
I didn't know about the author's depression when I read the book. I found that it was coherent - maybe I shall read it differently now I know.
Edited to add the comment that the sisters' opinion of one another is universally poor - when we see one of them through another's eyes they always seem very different characters from how they see themselves in the books which they narrate.
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