From the author's site:
“I employ this thing I called The Shovel List.”
“No, a shovel list. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.”
Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.
Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.
Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.
Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.Utterly compelling, moving and very very funny, The Mystery of Mercy Close is unlike any novel you’ve ever read and Helen Walsh – courageous, vulnerable and wasp-tongued – is the perfect heroine for our times.
I enjoyed this book. I felt for Helen. She's a bit crazy, wonderful and strong all in one. She's determined to find Wayne, not just for the money but because she thinks she knows what is going on with him.
I wouldn’t mind—I mean this is the sheer irony of the thing—but I’m the only person I know who doesn’t think it would be delicious to go in to “someplace” for “a rest.” You’d want to hear my sister Claire going on about it, as if waking up one morning and finding herself in a mental hospital would be the most delightful experience imaginable.
“I’ve a great idea,” she declared to her friend Judy. “Let’s have our nervous breakdowns at the same time.”
“Brilliant!” Judy said.
“We’ll get a double room. It’ll be gorgeous.”
“Paint me a picture.”
“Weeeeell. Kind people . . . soft, welcoming hands . . . whispering voices . . .
white bed linen, white sofas, white orchids, everything white . . .”
“Like in heaven,” Judy said.
“Just like in heaven!”
Not just like in heaven! I opened my mouth to protest, but there was no stopping them.
“. . . The sound of tinkling water . . .”
“. . . The smell of jasmine . . .”
“. . . A clock ticking in the near distance . . .”
“. . . The plangent chime of a bell . . .”
“. . . And us lying in bed off our heads on Xanax . . .”
“dreamily gazing at dust motes . . .”
“. . . Or reading Grazia . . .”
“. . . Or buying Magnum Golds from the man who goes from ward to ward selling ice cream . . .”
But there would be no man selling Magnum Golds. Or any of the other nice things, either.
“A wise voice will say”—Judy paused for effect—“‘Lay down your burdens, Judy.’ ”
“And some lovely, floaty nurse will cancel all our appointments,” Claire said. “She’ll tell everyone to leave us alone, she’ll tell all the ungrateful bastards that we’re having a nervous breakdown and it was their fault and they’ll have to be a lot nicer to us if we ever come out again.”
Both Claire and Judy had savagely busy lives—kids, dogs, husbands, jobs and an onerous, time-consuming dedication to looking ten years younger than their actual age. They were perpetually whizzing around in minivans, dropping sons off at rugby practice, picking daughters up from the dentist, racing across town to get to a meeting. Multitasking was an art form for them—they used the dead seconds stuck at traffic lights to rub their calves with fake-tan wipes, they answered emails from their seat at the cinema, and they baked red velvet cupcakes at midnight while simultaneously being mocked by their teenage daughters as, “A pitiful fat old cow.” Not a moment was wasted.
“They’ll give us Xanax.” Claire was back in her reverie.
“As much as we want. The second the bliss starts to wear off, we’ll ring a bell and a nurse will come and give us a top-up.”
“We’ll never have to get dressed. Every morning they’ll bring us new cotton pajamas, brand new, out of the packet. And we’ll sleep sixteen hours a day.” Read more here.