Marian Keyes finds a new way to blend reality and fiction in the most urgent and funny “Mystery of Mercy Close”


“Fortunately or unfortunately many of the things that happen to Helen I went though,” Keyes also reveals. “At least it has the ring of authenticity and nothing is funnier than the truth really.”

Fans of Keyes’s Walsh family series will be delighted to hear that poor Wayne Diffney, the fourth luckless member of Laddz, Ireland’s biggest fictional boy band of the 1990s, is back.  In fact it was Keyes’ close friend, the writer and journalist Anne Marie Scanlon, who successfully canvassed for Diffney to play a bigger part in the new book.

“Poor Wayne has appeared in many of the other books I’ve written as a kind of a bit part. Anne Marie always felt very sorry for him, having hair that looked like the Sydney Opera House and the fact that his wife left him and ran off with one of Bono’s friends,” Keyes laughs.

“Anne Marie was always saying, ‘Lookit, Wayne needs his own book.’  And I thought there’s no way, how? But then Helen’s working as a private detective and Wayne’s gone missing...”

We live in the era of god-awful boy band reunion tours, Keyes realized.

 “The idea of a reunion tour for Laddz seemed very plausible to me. How mortifying it must be to have to go back and sing the songs you sang when you were 17 and now you’re 39,” she says.

“And having to the do the dancing. And just the f***ing shame of it. I mean, you have to pay your mortgage. I felt so sorry for them.”

Inspiration struck when Keyes saw the very real Irish boy band Boyzone reunion on TV. 

“They were singing the songs and doing the moves but they weren’t putting much effort into it. They were sort of tongue in cheek about it,” she says.

“And I mean this in a very loving way.  I thought, God love them! I’m with you, lads! Don’t put the effort in! Don’t make a show of yourself more than you’re already having to do. And the weight loss and having to get back into the old costumes? It would be hellish.”

Keyes isn’t sour on boy bands though, she clarifies. 

“I am very fond of One Direction. I watched The X Factor when they were being picked. I always loved Zayn Malik, I always though that he was a bit of a rebel. My feelings toward him are very maternal. Boy bands are a necessary evil.” 

Meanwhile, Keyes has once again found pleasure in the day to day. Crucially she’s enjoying being creative again too. “Nobody gets through life without lots of shocks and unexpected pain,” she says. 

“What we are is the sum of our experiences. My women and I go forward with more wisdom and are more clear-sighted about things. I’m changed. But I suppose that’s what is constantly happening. 

“There’ no stop point. What I went through was horrible but I’m not bitter. If you manage to not be bitter you’re grand. Be still in the game, that’s all you have to do.”