Title: The Mystery of Mercy Close
Author: Marian Keyes
Publication date: September 13, 2012
Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin Books)
Length: 528 pages
Genre: Women’s fiction
Age group: Adult
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Buy it: Amazon US | Amazon UK | The Book Depository
Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.
Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.
Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.
Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.
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!
” Fifteen minutes later I pulled up outside my parents’ house, took a moment to gather myself, then started rummaging for a key to let myself in. They’d tried to make me give it back when I moved out three years ago but – thinking strategically – I’d hung on to it. Mum had made noises about changing the locks but seeing as she and Dad took eight years to decide to buy a yellow bucket, what were the chances that they’d manage something as complicated as getting a new lock? “