Marian’s latest book is about Helen, the youngest of the Walsh sisters- we’ve already got to know the family through Watermelon, Rachel’s Holiday, Angels and Anybody Out There.
From the other novels we know that Helen is beautiful, has men falling at her feet, and that she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. We know that she is a Private Investigator and that sometimes Mammy Walsh helps out.
What The Mystery of Mercy Close shows us is that Helen has had a serious bout of depression, spending some time in hospital. She’s heading into another bout. She is terrified.
Marian often explores major issues in her deceptively light novels- I’ve been moved by tales of abusive realtionships, bereavement, infertility and addiction. I’ve never before been so connected with a book that my reactions mirrored those of the main character. Helen got anxious and panicky: I got anxious and panicky. I had to stop reading it- it seemed to make no sense that I had to take some diazepam to sit on the sofa and read fiction.
I got back to it eventually. I didn’t get anxious this time, not even when Helen bought a suicide kit. I began to wonder what had actually happened to Wayne from the reforming boyband Laddz, whom Helen had been hired to find.
There are a lot of characters in this novel and my 6 week break meant that I had some difficulty remembering who was who, but the mystery and the supporting cast are funny, comfy background, so it didn’t really matter.
The best crime novels use the ‘crime’ as a framework for exploring wider issues. Marian uses that type of structure (no one could really call this a crime or mystery novel) to consider the issues of both individuals and the country being broke and broken.
Finances, relationships, people- all are subject to change. How do we move forward? Where do we get help? Who are our friends? How do we look after ourselves?
Marian wrote this when dealing with her own mental health issues. I’m amazed she was able to write it at all. I’m going to have to read it again.