Title: The Mystery of Mercy Close
Author: Marian Keyes
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Helen Walsh hasn’t had the easiest time becoming an adult, but somehow, she managed to find a steady career, buy a flat that she loved, and fall for a responsible man who has three great children. When Helen’s PI business starts failing to pay the bills, though, she begins to lose all the great things in her life one by one. Her ex-boyfriend, Jay Parker, gives her an offer she can’t (but really wants to) refuse: A big payday in order to find Wayne, a musician who disappeared after Jay announced Wayne’s former boy band’s comeback tour.
The Mystery of Mercy Close is a complicated novel that will surprise readers with its depth. On the surface, it appears to be something of a mix between women’s fiction and a mystery novel. And indeed, it does have these elements, but through the character of Helen, Keyes explores some darker sides of life. Specifically, Helen is depressed, and not in the “I have the blues because my life is going poorly” sort of way. She has all-encompassing depression, and though she’s been treated for it before, it’s back with a vengeance and threatens to overtake the few good things Helen has in her life.
It’s sad, because Helen is such a spunky and fun character. Those on the outside wouldn’t be able to tell she’s grappling with something so difficult because she retains her sense of humor. Keyes has a gift of writing the darkest of situations and still managing to inject some humor and warmth into them, and she does that well in The Mystery of Mercy Close. It still can be a difficult novel to read at times because of Helen’s hopelessness and despair, but the wit helps to mitigate that.
The plot of The Mystery of Mercy Close is pretty straightforward, and readers may be able to guess what happened to Wayne before the big reveal at the end. Despite the title, the focus of the book is actually Helen, and thus the novel is character-driven rather than plot-driven. This means it can move slowly at times, as Helen desperately tries to find her way towards happiness, but readers will root for Helen from beginning to end.
If you’re a fan of women’s fiction and books that deal with serious issues, anything by Marian Keyes is an absolute must-read. The Mystery of Mercy Close balances an entertaining storyline with Helen’s daunting personal journey, while retaining a healthy sense of dark humor that readers are sure to appreciate from beginning to end.
Other books by Marian Keyes: