The Mystery of Mercy Close

By Marian Keyes

“He’d done his walls with paint from Holy Basil. God, I yearned for their colors. I hadn’t been able to afford them myself but I knew their color chart like the back of my hand. His hall was done in Gangrene, his stairs in Agony and his living room–unless I was very much mistaken–in Dead Whale. Colors I personally very much approved of.”

This book was hilarious, I wish I could just quote and quote from it, but I listened to it on Audio. At some point in the future I’ll have to read-read it, but I loved the Irish accent and style of the narrator, Caroline Lennon. As with all of Marian Keyes’ novels, this one deals with some dark themes, so the humor can be very black. In this one, Helen, the youngest Walsh sister, suffers from clinical depression, which has led to a suicide attempt and continual thoughts of suicide. Keyes description and exploration of this condition are harrowing. It seems impossible that it could be a source of humor, but with Helen’s voice, it is.

I loved the inclusion of Helen’s family in the story, although some glimpses were brief, some are pretty substantial. It’s a treat for those who have followed the trials, tribulations, and joys of the Walsh family over the years. For example, we learn who the man is that Anna’s late husband( Anybody Out There?) foretells for her. “I can’t give you his exact identity…But I can tell you, you know him already.” And that is all we know at the conclusion of that book.

Besides the Walshes, the other secondary characters are wonderfully drawn, especially Bella, one of her boyfriend’s children. Speaking of boyfriends, I wasn’t sure until the very near the end who exactly Helen was going to end up with. Marian really had me worried a number of times.

The “Mystery” which drives the plot of the book is somewhat of a MacGuffin. Helen has been hired by her rogueish and attractive ex-boyfriend to find Wayne, “the Wacky one” in the has-been boy band who are trying to stage a comeback. It is a legit mystery. He has disappeared off the face of the earth. Is he still alive? Was he murdered? If the reader follows closely, all of the clues are there as to where Wayne is. We are really more entertained by Helen’s life, her thoughts and musings, her reminiscences, and the people she meets along the way and her interactions with them. And most of all, what her fate will be.

I will only say, everything climaxes is a perfect ending and a very satisfying conclusion to the saga of the Walsh family. And I wish that Holy Saint Basil’s paint colors were not fictional.**5 out of 5 stars**

September 20,2020

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