*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Author: Jess Kidd
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 21, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Blending strange kindnesses, casual violence and buried secrets: an unforgettable debut from a dark new voice in Irish fiction. When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies. His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers. Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of mystery, bloody violence and buried secrets.
Himself is a darkly humorous novel, a murder mystery in a small Irish town filled with wacky characters, restless ghosts, and secrets of a lost childhood. In this debut novel, Kidd builds a fantastical town of mystery and darkness. Everyone knows everyone’s business and characters jump at the chance to involve themselves in the lives of others, whether out of a genuine caring desire or out of a nosey need to meddle in order keep the town’s sense of homeostasis–that is, to keep it’s secrets hidden.
Mahony is an outside who can see the town’s ghosts and who is on the hunt to find out what happened to the mother he never knew. His adventure leads him to the ever humorous and incredibly prying Mrs. Cauley. They two make an unlikely pair. They are brought together by a shared ability to see the dead and a desire to see the town’s mystery solved. Mahoney is this irresistible bad boy type who’s got all the ladies in town wrapped around his finger with his good looks and Dublin charm. Mrs. Crawley has asserted herself as the town’s playwright. With her crazy wig which she only sometimes wears, and her need-to-know attitude, she’s positioned herself as the towns eccentric busybody. Although this story is a murder mystery, and there are many dark things afoot in this little town, these two provide comic relief, filling this tale with humour.
Kidd creates many well developed characters in the town, while some others are left undeveloped, but serve a small purpose to the overall story. Each character, however far along in the development stage, is unique and useful to the story as a whole. There are some more wiley characters that I would have liked to see fleshed out a bit more. Characters like Tadhg, Jack Brophy, Thomas Sweeney, and Annie Farelly, all play important rolls in the story and are essential to the plot, but we don’t get to know them quite in the same way that we get to know Mahony and Mrs. Cauley. I would have like to see more of them and their backstories to understand their actions and motives throughout.
As a whole, this book was very easy to read, the characters were likeable and relatable, the story was funny and intriguing, and the mystery was not easy to solve until the end. It’s a great whodunit kind of story and is overall, a very entertaining read.