Monday, March 11, 2013

A funny albeit cranky survivor gets 4 stars

Before the last two feet of snow shut me in forever, I had got my favorite lamp fixed and found a good throw for my one-and-a-half chair.  (This is a chair that allows a short person - me - to scrunch sideways in perfect cocoon comfort.) I had my Kindle and a new book to review:  The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes a bestselling Irish author.  The words Mercy Close had already zapped me with a yen to sell everything and move to the Cotswolds because who doesn’t want to live in a thatched roof cottage and send out address cards marked 43 Mercy Close.  Well, Mark Zuckerberg probably doesn’t. Btw the book is set in Ireland not the UK   I keep thinking it’s still 1899 in Ireland but apparently, they also have cell phones and the Internet.

The best thing I can ever say about a book is that I want to continue reading it more than I want to do most other things (that includes watching Shark Tank.)  The next best thing I can say is that I can read it on the elliptical machine and not be aware that almost an hour has slipped by.  This was mostly true of this funny, noir in a good way, noir in a bad way P.I. driven missing person mystery.  Helen Walsh, P.I. is a long list of contradictions: suicidal but competitive, despises phrases like  “good to go” but has a soft spot for Michael Bublé and his “chunky thighs.” (I went immediately to U-tube and listened to Bublé sing The Best Is Yet To Come and it put me in a good mood.)

Helen is suffering from a mental malady of unknown origins and resistant to solutions. (Aren’t we all?)  She can’t sleep.  She can’t eat anything except handfuls of Cheerios and has twice in the past  (in a clumsy way) tried to commit suicide. Just as she’s entering a good period the economy brings her down.  She loses her flat and her clients and has to limp back to her old bedroom in her parents’ house. To the rescue comes her ex, Jay Parker, a promoter who is producing a reunion of the boyband Laddz and needs her to find one of the Laddz who has gone missing. Helen has a past with Jay that did not end well but he’s offering cash and a job. Helen wants oblivion but remains engaged by her work ethic and a developing simpatico for the missing Ladzz. The fun of this book is not so much in the mystery but in the reveal of the main character, a funny albeit cranky survivor who is just barely holding on but whose thought process remains reliably interesting.

My quibble with The Mystery of Mercy Close is the lengthy multi-page acknowledgements up front.  We don’t know these people, we don’t care how much help they were to the author.  We want to dive into Chapter One straight away. (After reading the words bum for booty and boot for car trunk and petrol for gas, I’m already saying straight away for right away like a wannabe Brit.)

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