Marian Keyes // The mystery of Mercy Close

When I picked up this book at my local book store, I inadvertently bought a Norwegian copy which was misplaced in the English language section. While I prefer to read books in their original language, I couldn’t stop reading after checking out the first couple of pages, so I just kept going. That is surely a sign of a good book!

This is the first book by Marian Keyes that I have read and I love how much humour she puts into her writing. I frequently had to reread a paragraph or two just because I thought the writing was so clever and funny!

The main character Helen, a private investigator, is a very unusual and somewhat abrupt woman who has a hard time making friends. Most people find her scary and cold. For one thing, she runs a Shovel list in her head that she actively keeps adding things, words and people to that she hates and would like to hit with a shovel. She doesn’t believe in chichat, unecessary joy and laughter or white walls. Her life consists of dark paint, solitude, growing debt and depression.

Set in Ireland at the beginning of the financial crisis, we are introduced to her just as she is forced to give up her flat and move back with her parents. She has racked up a huge debt because she could not get any detective work during the financial crisis.

Back at her parents’, she reluctantly takes a job for her old boyfriend Jay to find a missing, now middle aged, boy band member by the name of Wayne, in time for the band’s reunion concert. While she is gradually becoming more sick with depression and worries about working with Jay again, who hurt her badly when they were going out, she desperately needs the money and also to keep her mind busy, so she can hold the growing depression at bay.

You follow her as she steps up her search for Wayne, is increasingly annoyed with Jay, worries about the relationship with her boyfriend and his family, plans her suicide and interacts with her slightly crazy yet very amusing family.

This book is not a heavy work of literary genius, but a fun, easy and well written read. Though Helen’s depression is at the centre of the story, the entertaining writing keeps the story light and well-flowing. Appearently, Keyes has herself battled serious depression and this is the first book she has written since recovering.

You can read more about and buy the book here (UK) and here (US).

Now I’m off to write my own shovel list. Though I’m quite happy and zen these days,  I’m sure it will be cathartic to release the smidgens of irritation and anger I have in my head and metaphorically beat them into oblivion!