reviewed live on bookshow by Ro Bennett on 11th July 2013
Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear - it's just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good jobs - 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 and Jay is awash with cash, so Helen is forced to take on the task of finding Wayne Diffney, the 'Wacky One' from boy band Laddz.
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. 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.
Utterly compelling, moving and very very funny, The Mystery of Mercy Close is unlike any novel you've ever read and Helen Walsh - courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued - is the perfect heroine for our times.
Well for a start I find the sentence: Helen Walsh doesn't believe in fear completely inaccurate as the whole book revolves around her fear and phobias! Neither did I agree with the statement that it was very, very funny. It did have humour and sometimes made me smile but it wasn’t what I would personally describe as funny.
In fact I’m ambivalent about the book, for me it dragged on a bit and I did skim a lot because I couldn’t wait to finish it. Having said that I did want to finish it, I did want to know how it would end. Throughout the book the main character, Helen is sinking deeper and deeper into a crippling depression and I found the detailed descriptions of how ghastly she felt, the trips to the doctor, the hospital, the medication etc. was boring. I didn’t warm to Helen she was pessimistic, negative, sharp tongued and sarcastic. For instance she has a 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.
Marian Keyes suffers from depression herself, so it was like reading a journal of her personal angst. I found that heavy going - for instance there were pages describing a couple of horrendous examples of suffering due to breast cancer which Helen was brooding about - but why? she didn’t have breast cancer and it wasn’t relevant to the plot. I skipped huge chunks because to have read them would only have dragged me down by putting negative images into my mind. Marian Keyes is quoted as saying: I've always been melancholic. At a party, everyone would be looking at the glittering chandeliers and I'd be looking at the waitress's cracked shoes. And that just about sums it up for me - the focusing on things which drag you down rather than those which uplift and make you feel good. We do have a choice.
I agree with one reviewer who wrote: 'It just went on and on, Helen in Wayne's house, talking to neighbours, rowing with ex, flashbacks of her depression'. That was basically it. I would have written the book off completely if it wasn’t for the humour and the feel good ending which I liked.