At the age of 33, Helen, the youngest and latest-blooming of the five Walsh girls, has suffered yet another setback.
She’s been forced to give up her beloved, eccentrically decorated flat and move back in with Mum and Dad. Since her detective work has all but dried up, thanks to the economic taming of the Celtic tiger, she grudgingly accepts a missing person case from an old flame, Jay, who is managing the reunion tour of a former Irish boy band, the Laddz. Only four Laddz are on board—the fifth, front man Docker, has gone on to mega-stardom in movies and is now a full time globe-trotting philanthropist. Wayne, the wackiest of the Laddz, goes abruptly AWOL four days before opening night. The other Laddz, including John Joseph and his new wife, Middle Eastern singing sensation Zeezah, not to mention Jay and a gangster named Harry, all stand to lose big-time if Wayne isn’t found. Helen’s investigation turns up no clues except a phone message from a woman named Gloria on the eve of Wayne’s disappearance from his home on a Dublin cul-de-sac called Mercy Close. Highly illegal checks of his cellphone and financial records turn up nothing. Neither Wayne’s closest associates nor jealous ex-girlfriends have any idea who Gloria could be, and a bludgeon-wielding assailant warns Helen to give up her quest. On the personal front, Helen’s new boyfriend, Artie, a cop, seems to be too amicably divorced, and his three children have mixed feelings—ranging from adoration to hatred—toward their mother’s potential replacement. Throughout, flashbacks detail Helen’s bouts of despair, related in her quirky voice, with mordant asides about psychotropic drugs and the logistics of a good suicide plan. (Hint: Avoid dog walkers while attempting to drown self.)
Readers who find some topics too serious for irony be warned—nothing is sacred in Helen’s world.