HIMSELF by Jess Kidd
Atria Hardcover | ISBN: 9781501145179| On sale: March 14, 2017 | 384 pages | $26.00
eBook: Atria | ISBN: 9781501145193| On sale: March 14, 2017 | 384 pages | $10.99
Abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant in 1950, Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to her disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years earlier. In HIMSELF (Atria Hardcover; On Sale March 14, 2017; $26.00), Jess Kidd delivers a black-humored mystery, a debut novel populated with colorful characters, a simmering blend of the natural and the supernatural, and in homage to her roots, a generous dose of quintessentially Irish humor.
From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahony’s presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider ways cause a stir amongst the locals, who receive him with a mixture of curiosity, suspicion, and excitement. Determined to uncover the truth, Mahony solicits the help of brash, retired actress Mrs. Cauley, and together, the improbable duo concoct a plan to get the town talking, aided and abetted by a cast of characters, some from beyond the grave. As flashbacks unravel the mysterious circumstances of Mahony’s mother’s disappearance, the investigation incurs the wrath of sanctimonious Father Quinn and the Widow Farelly, unsettling the village, provoking cases of letter bombs and poisoned scones. What begins as a personal mission gradually becomes a quiet revolution: a young man and his town uniting against corruption, against those who seek to quash the sinister tides of progress and modernity come hell or high water. But what those people seem to keep forgetting is that Mahony has the dead on his side…
Mahoney was dropped off at a Dublin orphanage when he was just a baby. Now, 26 years later, he has come into possession of a note that tells him of his mother's name and where she was from. Mahoney decides to return to the small, west coast Irish town of Mulderrig to see if he can figure out the truth of his mother. However, Orla Sweeney was a blight on the town of Mulderrig and most of the folks are glad to have her gone, by whatever means. Orla and her son share the gift of ghosts-and the ghosts tell secrets about the townsfolk. When Mahoney returns and reveals his parentage, many of the townsfolk are put out and don't want the memories of Orla to return. With the help of an aging thespian, Mrs. Cauley, Mahoney will use his gifts and the town's fear to find out what happened to his mother.
Himself is an amazing story of mystery, secrets, acceptance and a bit of magic. I was immediately pulled in from the beginning when we see Orla's murder and Mahoney's return to the strange town. I was especially interested in all of the ghosts that Mahoney is able to see and loved his interactions with them, especially Ida. Mahoney's journey took me to a beautiful and haunting Irish town in 1976. From an enchanted forest to a low-tide island and magnificent old buildings, reveal Mulderrig's appeal. Even more than the setting, the cast of characters is expertly drawn. Both the living and the dead receive full attention in the hunt for revealing Orla's fate. For me, Mrs. Cauley stole the show with her straightforward attitude and unrelenting will. I am in love with her comebacks and her promptly placed farts in church. The mystery of who exactly killed Orla kept me reading. I really wanted Mahoney to connect with his mother's ghost. I do wish there was more of a resolve there, but the ending was still satisfying. The mix of history, mystery, and grand characters sprinkled with a bit of supernatural created a wonderful world that I absolutely could not put down.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
PRAISE FOR HIMSELF:
“Every page of Kidd’s who-done-it novel is filled with magic, spirit, peppery characters, and ghosts of the village dead, including their pets, who are visible only to some… Kidd mixes the darkest capacities of these villagers with carefully observed whimsy and fantasy. Readers who enjoy a dollop of whiskey in their tea will feel right at home in Mulderrig.”
“Told in a unique voice with complex characters, the paranormal mystery will keep readers guessing whodunit until the very end—all while falling in love with the quirky cast. A darkly comic tale that is skillfully and lyrically told.”
Barnes & Noble
Jess Kidd spent time in Ireland as a child, and has been returning ever since. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from St. Mary’s University, where she wrote her dissertation on the melding of genres in crime fiction. Jess loves tea, bees, dogs, writing about ghosts, and smiling at strangers in moderation. She lives in London with her daughter, and plans on moving back to the west coast of Ireland soon.
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