I just finished The Mystery of Mercy Close and it was a delight (not just because it was the 80th book that I read in 2012). It was so great to finally be back reading about the Walshes! But also kind of sad because there are 5 Walsh sisters and this was the 5th Walsh sister’s book so that must mean that Marian Keyes is done with the Walshes?
Say it ain’t so Marian!
If you’ve read the other Walsh sister books (Watermelon, Angels, Rachel’s Holiday and Anybody Out There?) you will be familiar with Helen Walsh, the youngest, most forceful personality in the Walsh sisterhood. She was always my favourite background character, guaranteed for a laugh. I so looked forward to the day when she starred in her own book.
That day has come and it did not disappoint.
Helen Walsh has fallen on some hard times. Work for a private investigator in Ireland has all but dried up and she’s had to give up her apartment and move back in with her parents. So when her ex has a job for her, she doesn’t really have a choice. The boys of Laddz (think Ireland’s Backstreet Boys) are set to do a series of reunion concerts when Wayne Diffney, aka The Wacky One, disappears without a trace. Their manager is desperate to find him in time for the start of the concerts and he goes to Helen, his ex, to help him out.
While she searches for Wayne, Helen has her own issues to work out and we gradually come to see that Helen is very seriously struggling through an episode of depression.
Here’s what’s great about Marian Keyes’ books. They are hilarious and totally addictive but each one deals, quite seriously, with much darker issues. Rachel’s Holiday is all about alcohol addiction, Angels is infidelity, Anybody Out There (to date one of the most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read) deals with the sudden death of a loved one, The Brightest Star in the Sky and This Charming Man deal with rape and abusive relationships. The Mystery of Mercy Close’s honest depiction of someone in the throes of a serious episode of depression was terrifying but so perfectly handled.
I was fooling around online the other day and checked out Marian Keyes’ website and discovered that she herself has actually dealt with an alcohol problem as well as depression, which may be why she is so adroit at handling these grim issues with such elegance.
Make no mistake, The Mystery of Mercy Close is funny. Very funny. But Helen Walsh has a tendency to catch you off guard. She’s writing off humanity, employing her Shovel List (for all of the things/people she can’t stand [I’m totally starting my own]), all the while needing the help that she can’t bring herself to ask for.
The Mystery of Mercy Close was worth the wait. I wonder what Marian Keyes will write next?