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Darling Jimby Christian Moerk
Synopses & Reviews
A modern gothic novel of suspense that reveals, through their diaries, the story of sisters who fall in love with a beguiling stranger, and of the town that turns a blind eye to his murderous ways
When two sisters and their aunt are found dead in their suburban Dublin home, it seems that the secret behind their untimely demise will never be known. But then Niall, a young mailman, finds a mysterious diary in the post offices dead-letter bin. From beyond the grave, Fiona Walsh shares the most tragic love story hes ever heard—and her tale has only just begun.
Niall soon becomes enveloped by the mystery surrounding itinerant storyteller Jim, who traveled through Ireland enrapturing audiences and wooing women with his macabre mythic narratives. Captivated by Jim, townspeople across Ireland thought it must be a sad coincidence that horrific murders trailed him wherever he went—and they failed to connect that the young female victims, who were smitten by the newest bad boy in town, bore an all too frightening similarity to the victims in Jims own fictional plots.
The Walsh sisters, fiercely loyal to one another, were not immune to “darling” Jims powers of seduction, but found themselves in harms way when they began to uncover his treacherous past. Niall must now continue his dangerous hunt for the truth—and for the vanished third sister—while theres still time. And in the woods, the wolves from Jims stories begin to gather.
"Like the itinerant Irish storyteller at the crux of this riveting novel, Danish-born author Moerk mixes mythology, Arthurian legend, fairy tales, noir and horror in his American debut. When reclusive Moira Hegarty and her two nieces, Fiona and Risn Walsh, are found dead in Moira's secluded home in a Dublin suburb, evidence suggests the sisters were imprisoned for months by their aunt, along with a third person, perhaps Risn's twin sister. The young women left behind two diaries, one of which a postal clerk finds. Three years before, they fell under the spell of Jim Quick, a sanachai (or bard), whose tales of wolves and kings gave him rock star status in the sleepy town of Castletownbere. Only the Walsh sisters appear to have seen beyond the charm of 'darling Jim,' whose presence coincides with several women's murders. Moerk tightly meshes each separate plot strand — the murders, the diaries and Quick's tales — into an enthralling story that never falters. Author tour. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Accursed who brings to light of day / The writings I have cast away!" So warned Yeats in 1908. A century later, those dusty words are lost on Dublin postman Niall Cleary, as he retrieves from the dead-letter bin a bulging envelope addressed to "Anyone at all." The signatory: Fiona Walsh, whose ravaged corpse was recently discovered in a prim suburban house alongside the bodies of her sister and aunt... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) — victims, it seems, of a triple homicide. Fiona's handwriting, ragged and wrought, hurtles across pages stained with blood: "My time is short," she vows. "We'll die in this house because we loved a man named Jim." And so Niall sinks into his chair, sure "he wouldn't move until he'd reach the last page." Neither will the reader of "Darling Jim," the spellbinding new novel from Danish-born, Brooklyn-based Christian Moerk. Aglow with fairy-tale inflections, this hypnotic, neo-Gothic suspense story unfolds like a hothouse bloom, lush and pungent; it's a sprig of nightshade, all petals and poison. And it heralds the arrival of an astonishingly gifted storyteller. Itinerant bard Jim, the lithe, sloe-eyed Casanova prowling the murky margins of Moerk's tale, has blown into coastal Castletownbere astride a comet-red vintage motorbike. By day, he entrances the Walsh women — first Fiona, then her sisters Aoife and Roisin, and finally their shy maiden-aunt, Moira. At night, he unspools folklore in the village pubs: sinister legends of Celtic princes and deathless wolves, wracked castles and doomed love. "In whatever time I may have left," remembers Fiona, "I'll always recall the hush that preceded Jim's story that night. For, in a sense, it was the last moment of peace the three of us would know." Darling Jim Quick, of course, is not what he appears. As the Walsh sisters exhume his murderous past, he romances the besotted Moira; meanwhile, Fiona's diary leads Niall to Castletownbere, where another journal completes the story. Two diaries, then, alongside a clutch of spinsters, virgins and villains, all ranged across an Ireland of foamy bays and transistor radios, midnight forests and punk musicians. Time slips and blurs in "Darling Jim," which fixes its events "not so long ago," and Moerk tweaks the creaky conventions of Gaelic myth even as he honors them: Niall makes a noble if hapless knight-errant; ghostly voices in the CB ether inform and advise the Walsh girls; a crippled prince of legend returns as an aristocrat in a wheelchair. Sly, wry and utterly original, "Darling Jim" is the stuff of alchemy, missing only the perfect epigraph: "Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams; / Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round." Reviewed by Daniel Mallory, who researches modernist literature at New College, Oxford, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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The widely acclaimed debut novel—about three sisters, three tales, and a very dark secret—thats a “chilling bedtime story for adults.”—People (three stars)
Fiona Walsh thought her familys secrets would follow her to her grave, but when her diary is found by a young postman, Niall, the truth about her untimely demise—and that of her sister and aunt—begins to see the light of day. Its the most tragic love story hes ever heard.
Niall soon becomes enveloped by the mystery surrounding Jim—an itinerant storyteller who traveled through Ireland enrapturing audiences and wooing women with his macabre mythic sagas—though a trail of murder followed him wherever he went. The Walsh sisters, fiercely loyal to each other, were not immune to “darling” Jims powers of seduction, but found themselves in harms way when they began to uncover his treacherous past. Niall must now continue his dangerous hunt for the truth—and for the vanished third sister—while theres still time.
And in the woods, the wolves from Jims stories begin to gather.
About the Author
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Christian Moerk moved to Vermont in his early twenties. After getting his MS in journalism at Columbia University, he was a movie executive for Warner Bros. Pictures and later wrote about film for The New York Times. Darling Jim is his first novel published in America. He lives in Brooklyn.
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