**Giveaway is now closed**
As you may already know (if not, where have you been?!?), I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes’ novels. She’s the reason I started Chick Lit Central in the first place. (Her books were a common interest between Melissa P and myself, yadda yadda yadda, Chick Lit Central was born.) When I heard that she wasn’t writing for a while, I became sad and longed for the day when she’d put out another book, especially since Helen, the youngest Walsh sister, hadn’t had her day in the sun yet. Of course, Marian’s reasons for not writing were totally understandable and I was even more sad to hear what she was going through that kept her from writing. But lo and behold, her latest novel, “The Mystery of Mercy Close” is finally here. Not only that, but it’s about Helen! So you can see why I was anxiously awaiting the day it would arrive in my mail and doing a dance of joy when I received all 500 plus pages of it, flanked by an adorable cover. (When aren't her covers adorable?!?)
Move over Nancy Drew, there’s a new detective in town...
So, here’s the low-down. Helen Walsh is not much of a people person. In fact, she has a “Shovel List” which contains anyone and anything that she wants to hit with a shovel. However, she has a gorgeous boyfriend--even if he comes with lots of baggage--and a cushy private investigation gig for a reuniting boy band. (Her ex-boyfriend is behind that gig, but still…) So, she may have lost her house and her best friend, but she still has it made...or does she? There is something haunting her and it might get in the way of everything she holds near and dear. If that happens, she’ll lose more than she bargained for. However, if she can solve the mystery of the missing boy band member, everything should fall back into place and all will be right with the world. Right?
Given the excitement build-up I created for myself, I had high hopes for “The Mystery of Mercy Close.” Thankfully, they were not dashed. I worried at first because I wasn’t sure where the story was going in the beginning. Things seemed a bit scattered and made me want to reread all the previous Walsh sister novels to understand what was happening. Mammy Walsh seemed a bit out there, compared to how I remember her being so down to earth in previous novels. (Or maybe I just wanted her to be this strong mother figure and really was this wishy-washy all along? There was a point where she turned back into the Mammy Walsh I remember though.) Then the story started to pick up the pace. I found myself nodding and laughing along with Helen’s thought processes. It reminded me of why she has been my favorite Walsh sister all along. There were more mysteries than just why Wayne Diffney, the missing Laddz member, disappeared. I really wanted to know what was plaguing Helen from her past, why she and her ex broke up and why things went south with her ever-so-fascinating best friend. Thankfully, I had about 500 pages to find out. Yes, it was that long. However, if I love an author, a huge book means I get to spend more time with them. I get to savor their words for a longer stretch of time. However, that's also a lot of space to fill. Can Marian Keyes do it without dragging the story? With "The Mystery of Mercy Close," there were a lot of shifts between the past and present. Sometimes I got so caught up in the parts about the past that I forgot they weren't taking place in the present, which tended to confuse me at times. Even so, the only thing that actually bothered me was the way people wrote text messages. They sounded like babies or like they were speaking another language. It just seemed weird. I had an advanced copy, so maybe this was changed since then.
The concept of Marian's latest novel is fun and original. With all the boy band reunions going on these days, I like that she talked about this particular reunion with a dry, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that only Helen Walsh could get away with. She gave each of the boys in the band their own personality with situations that were similar to what other boy bands have experienced. There were also other side characters that kept the story flowing with their own colorful personalities and the aspect of humor they added. It was nice catching up with the other Walsh sisters. I was glad Anna was in a good place after her tragedy in "Anyone Out There?" Claire featured prominently in this story. She hasn't been this much front and center since her lead role in "Watermelon."
Marian also added a bit of herself into this story. I don't know how much of it was truth and how much was changed around for fictional purposes, but I thought it was honest and gave her readers some insight as to what might have been going on in her life over the past year or so. I think she added some of this to "The Brightest Star in the Sky," as well, but it's easier to write what you know than what you don't.
Overall, I enjoyed "The Mystery of Mercy Close." I carried it around like a security blanket all week, just waiting for the next chance to catch up on Helen's life, and now that I'm finished, I miss her. I hope this means Marian is back in the fiction world for a long time to come. Thankfully, you don't have to wait long to get this novel, since it was just released yesterday!
Thanks to Penguin UK for the advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review AND for sharing THREE copies with some lucky readers anywhere in the world!
How to win "The Mystery of Mercy Close":
Please tell us your favorite boy band (or which band in general you'd like to see go on a reunion tour). One entry per person. Please include your e-mail address or a way to reach you if you win.
Giveaway ends September 19th at midnight EST.
More by Marian Keyes (and featuring the Walsh sisters):