cover image The Mystery of Mercy Close

The Mystery of Mercy Close

Marian Keyes. Viking, $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-670-02524-4

In her fifth Walsh Sister novel (after Anybody Out There?), Keyes focuses on misanthropic youngest sister, Helen. In Post-Celtic Tiger Ireland, with her PI business dried up and her flat lost, Helen has moved back in with her flighty parents rather than with her boyfriend, Artie, a high-level forensics cop with three kids and an uncomfortably close relationship with his ex. Helen lands a job from old beau Jay, who is handling the reunion of ’90s boy band the Laddz, provided she can get the reluctant Wayne Diffney, a.k.a. “the Wacky One,” on board; the others—“the Talented One,” “the Cute One,” “the Gay One,” and “the Other One”—are getting in shape and rehearsing. Helen likes the money the gig will bring, but Jay’s desire to rekindle their relationship sinks her into another major depression, and she’s not sure Artie will be able to handle it. Though the excessively noisy mystery gets too much play, Keyes’s portrayal of depression is nuanced and authentic. Helen’s vibrant voice is spot-on, and scenes with Artie illustrate her off-kilter personality, making it easy to see why he loves her. Agent: Jonathan Lloyd, Curtis Brown (U.K.) (Apr.)