Darling Jim

Darling Jim

by Christian Moerk

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805092080
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 03/02/2010
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 8.06(w) x 5.32(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Christian Moerk, a former movie executive for Warner Bros. Pictures, is the author of The Council of Ten and Sea of Shadows.

Actor Stephen Hoye is a graduate of London's Guildhall and a veteran of London's West End. An award-winning audiobook narrator, he has won thirteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards.

Justine Eyre is a classically trained actress who has narrated over three hundred audiobooks. With a prestigious Audie Award and four AudioFile Earphones Awards under her belt, Justine is multilingual and is known for her great facility with accents.

Read an Excerpt

Prelude

WHAT

DESMOND

SAW

1

Malahide, just north of Dublin. Not so long ago.

Long after the house had been disinfected for new occupants and the bodies rested safely in the ground, people still didn’t come near it. "Cursed," whispered the neighborhood gossips and nodded meaningfully. "Deadly, a haunted house!" cried the children, but they only ever mustered up the courage to take a step or two into the front yard before losing heart.

Because what Desmond the mailman had been the first to see inside had been unnatural strange.

Everybody liked Desmond, even if he might have been a little too nosy for his own good. He was also a slave to ritual, always noticing if anybody’s grass needed tending or whether the paint on a flagpole had begun to chip. Taken together with his guilt of having seen details without understanding their true meaning, these otherwise sociable qualities cost him his sanity.

On the last day of his life that gave him any joy, this most demanding connoisseur of his customers’ coffee delivered the day’s mail in the quiet neighborhood just down the street from the train station in Malahide as slowly as he decently could without being called a Peeping Tom. He started where the bars of New Street met the faux-Bavarian ugliness of the concrete marina and took a left, continuing out to Bissets Strand. As usual, old Des peered in the windows to see if anyone he knew might be waiting inside with a fresh cup, and he wasn’t disappointed; he’d drunk two before reaching the end of the first block. Most residents had come to accept his lonely need for attention. Just "happening by" for a spot of the morning java made him feel, it was understood, as if he were part of someone else’s life, just for a bit. He always said, "The bean smells lovely." He never outstayed his welcome. And he smiled when he saw you—that’s what made everyone surrender to this strange little creature—flashed a grin as wide as you please.

Before he found the corpses, Desmond was universally viewed as harmless.

His life off the clock, such as it was, was spent at the safe remove of Gibney’s, where he stole glances at the local wives when their husbands weren’t looking and lost his meager paychecks at the bookmaker’s next door each time there was a hurdles horse race on TV, which was often. He had trudged his black mailbag up and down the old beach town’s cracked pavements for more than eighteen years, staring at the same ash-gray houses where the nearby sea had eaten away at the paint, and found the monotony comforting. Going in to the city, just half an hour away by train, would have required a desire for surprise and a worldliness he couldn’t have imagined pursuing. Besides, it would have upset his carefully planned route, which netted at least four good cups before lunch.

When he walked past on the footpath, people inside their kitchens could hear him hum. Nonsense tunes, really. He had lousy pitch but bobbed his head to the beat, which counted for more than talent. He was happy the way only children under the age of twelve usually are.

Later, people took bets on whether that humming should have warned them.

It was on either the 24th or the 25th of April, just after ten in the morning, as far as anybody could recall, that the town’s tolerant opinion of Desmond changed forever. The sun didn’t shine. God averted his eyes from number 1 Strand Street and, instead, sent rolling clouds draped in suicide gray in from the sea to obscure something imminent not meant for public consumption. A prophetic color choice, as it should turn out. And so Desmond Kean, waving in blissful ignorance to old Mrs. Dingle on the second floor of Howard’s Corner and tipping his cap to that nice Mrs. Moriarty just opening up her hair salon, proceeded toward the end of his daily route.

When he had handed out mail to the drab granny houses out on Bissets Strand, turned back, and again reached number 1, on the corner of Old Street and Gas Yard Lane, he hesitated all the same. The bag was nearly empty, and he only had to deliver two adverts from the local supermarket to Mrs. Hegarty inside. In the days to come, Desmond would go back and forth in his fevered mind, trying to remember how far back he should have noticed that something was wrong with how that house made him feel. It looked ordinary enough, its façade a faded cream with fake Swiss wood latticework above the doorway. But from the very beginning, something just out of reach whispered a warning about the house’s occupant that he had been too polite to hear.

Mrs. Hegarty, who let Desmond call her "Moira" only after a year of sporadic—and persistent—visits, had come to town nearly three years ago from nowhere she cared to talk much about. People said it was a small town way out in West Cork. She was still a handsome woman at forty-five, and her face had the lucky kind of defined bone structure that would wear well into old age. On the rare occasions when Desmond’s clumsy jokes managed to coax a smile, she was beautiful. But she had also acquired a hardness to her that blossomed into open hostility whenever people tried to get too friendly. Invitations to tea from neighbors were first met with polite refusals. And when some tried bringing her cakes to drive the point home, she left them untouched on her front porch, where wild cats finally ate them.

Among the many curious neighbors, only Desmond was ever invited into the house for coffee, probably because of his innocence or willful blindness to people’s hidden side. Then, sometime last January, Mrs. Hegarty had abruptly stopped answering the door when he rang the bell. His subsequent attempts to reconnect with her whenever they happened on each other in the street were also rebuffed. Mrs. Hegarty, rarely seen outside her four walls as it was, would simply trail past him without a word in that old greatcoat, a scarf wrapped around her head like a mummy. She never again asked him inside. Desmond and everyone else simply assumed she’d had a tragedy befall her, didn’t pry, and gave her the space she obviously craved.

And yet.

Now that Desmond stood outside Mrs. Hegarty’s front door with the colorful adverts in his hand, he hesitated because of that feeling he’d had these last few weeks whenever he walked past. Recently, there had been sounds from inside that Desmond had written off as coming from a TV set, or maybe the radio. They had sounded like whimpers, even the cries of a young voice. Once there had been a loud thumping noise, and the drapes on the second floor had been yanked open briefly before being shut once again. But since Desmond was only curious, not investigative or even brave, he explained it away as the eccentricity of the lonely, a tribe to which he himself belonged.

The closer he came to the mail slot, the more the little hairs on his hand stood to attention like a blond forest. He thought he smelled something. Like spoilt stew. He wasn’t sure where it was coming from; could have been seaweed rotting on the beach nearby. Or someone’s fridge where the power had gone out. But he knew it wasn’t.

Desmond finally ignored his imprecise feeling of foreboding, bent down, and pushed open the slot. He jammed one of the Tesco adverts inside. He noticed a pile of unopened mail on the floor.

And then he stopped.

Far inside, near where he knew Mrs. Hegarty’s sitting room was, he saw what was probably a hand.

It was blue-black, ballooned thick like a surgical glove, and stuck out from somewhere in the adjoining room. The arm connected to it was fat and sausagelike, too, as if filled with water. A watch lay next to it, its band snapped clean off the wrist from the swelling. Desmond craned his neck and could just glimpse some more of Mrs. Hegarty’s remains, dark stains all over her Sunday best. He could have sworn that, despite all that, she was smiling. Des just avoided getting sick all over his shoes and ran down to tell the gardaí.

And for the first and last time in his life, he left a piece of mail undelivered.

AFTER THE REGULAR guards from up the street forced the lock open, they stepped aside and made room for the astronaut-looking forensics team from Garda headquarters in Phoenix Park. Two men silently entered, backed up by a canine unit. The dogs howled and whimpered as the crusted blood called out to them, and their handlers had to hold them back. One astronaut wearing a white full-body HazMat suit knelt by Moira’s prostrate body and examined her skull. There were several depressions in it just above one eye, as if someone had struck her over and over with a blunt object, but not hard enough to kill instantly. Cause of death was later determined at the inquest to have been caused by a massive subdural hematoma. In other words, Moira Hegarty had suffered a stroke after being beaten and died only minutes afterward. The body had been lying there for at least three days. One detective superintendent initially thought it was a robbery-homicide. Once he learned the full story, however, he was later heard to remark under his breath that "that fucking bitch deserved every blow she got." Because her death, as far as the cops were interested, was the least of it.

There were scuff marks on most of the walls, too, as if more than one person had tumbled around the ground floor, trying to gain control of the other. Shoe polish and brown leather skid marks had been smeared on the floor panels, and paintings of the Holy Land were askew. Those signs of struggle were replicated in every room downstairs, and it made the rookies nervous. One local garda opened the press under the sink and found rat poison in large quantities. Another discovered a necklace on Moira that was forged in iron and welded shut at the nape. A smaller ring with more than ten different keys was connected to it. Any one of them would have been impossible to pry off. "Must have jangled when she took a shower," another remarked, in a poor attempt at dispelling the unease they all felt. Once removed with bolt cutters, the keys were found to fit every lock in the house—from the outside. They found no other keys. And most of the doors were locked shut.

Forensic analysis indicated that Mrs. Hegarty suffered the injuries upstairs, then managed to make it almost down to her couch, collapsing just inches away. A fine blood trail from upstairs pointed the way.

The cops stopped laughing when they walked up to the second floor to verify this theory. It took two of Malahide’s finest to shove the door open. One caught the nervous look of his partner when they put their shoulders into it. Because the smell from inside was stronger than it had been near Mrs. Hegarty. They weren’t ashamed to have an armed officer accompany them as they revealed the truth of what Desmond saw and yet had missed so completely.

The girl lay bunched up against the door, her hands folded around a rusty shovel as if in prayer.

"Jesus!" exclaimed the youngest garda, and steadied himself on the doorjamb. Downstairs, the dogs howled, and their claws clicked around on the wooden floor.

Her red hair had been turned nearly black by sweat and filth. The fingers, slender and elegant, had only two nails left on them, and her ribs showed through the thin film of what once had to have been a yellow summer dress. Poor thing had died hard, the Garda established, but they couldn’t immediately determine whether it was the knife wounds in her abdomen or something internal that killed her first. The shovel had her fingerprints on it, however, and its head matched the marks on Mrs. Hegarty’s forehead. It was concluded that she had followed the older woman halfway down the stairs before something had broken off that chase. A knife was recovered from behind a chair, and Mrs. Hegarty’s prints made it clear that she had stabbed the young woman not twice but at least nineteen times.

"Poor child bled out quick," a veteran cop remarked, blowing his nose.

Forensics quickly reconstructed the scene. A desperate battle had taken place on the second floor, where Mrs. Hegarty had tried to beat back the weakened girl’s surprise attack and ultimately succeeded. But the young woman hadn’t surrendered without a fight. Almost as an afterthought, forensics realized that not only did Mrs. Hegarty’s keys fit in all the locks, but no room in the house had a keyhole on the inside. Remains of raw potatoes and moldy bread were found under the bed, where the girl had clearly been forced to save her rationed, meager food. It was determined that she’d lived inside the house for at least three months. Leg irons and handcuffs were gaping open on the bed railing, and both looked well used. The smallest of the self-established prison warden’s keys fit snugly in them. Poor divil had cuff burns where the metal had eaten into her skin. Two bent hairpins, caked brown by the girl’s own blood on the floorboards, were determined to be her homemade handcuff keys.

She had been a prisoner. For a long time. There was no other conclusion.

And the warden, the kindly woman doling out coffee to Desmond, had never been found out until it was too late.

"We had no idea," said the out-of-breath gentleman from Social Services, blinking in the camera lights right behind the cops, when confronted with the queasy notion that Mrs. Hegarty, the shut-in from somewhere out west, had evidently kept a live-in slave right under the noses of her neighbors. "We shall immediately make further enquiries." But as the man avoided the stares of angry onlookers and exited the house by the front steps, everyone knew that was so much bullshit. The woman who had lived quietly at the end of the street was an unmitigated monster. And nobody had cared enough to notice, least of all the government.

Through all this, while the astronauts, the flatfoot cops from around the corner, and the dogs all dissected their part of the unfolding mystery, Desmond knew that to be true more than anybody else. From the time the first ambulance came to carry that poor girl away, he stood right across the street, clutching a railing for balance, staring at number 1’s chocolate-colored front door. And when darkness came, he still hadn’t moved. An unhappy, ghostly smile had replaced the genial one he usually wore. And slowly, the same people who had tolerated Desmond’s fussy demeanor now began looking askance at the prematurely balding man trying to catch a glimpse of the young girl’s battered corpse being loaded into the ambulance. Those furtive glances into their kitchens took on a completely new and unsettling meaning. And it felt so good, besides, to smear one’s collective guilt onto the only available patsy.

"Pervert!" a mother was heard to remark, cracked lipstick forming the words. "Sick bastard," added another. Both had served him coffee with a smile days earlier.

But even if his untoward glances could have been taken for untimely curiosity, or even sexual titillation, they were wrong. Had they been able to look into Desmond’s heart, they would have discovered nothing but the blackest, stickiest guilt and shame. Those thumping noises now made sense to him. The yelps coming from the top floor could have—no, definitely had—been cries for help mere days before a violent death. Desmond nodded meekly at the neighborhood women, who didn’t meet his eyes but kept theirs fixed on the front door of number 1, as if staring at it long enough would make them better neighbors.

NIGHT HAD FALLEN. The astronauts had finally folded their tents and carted the results back down to HQ. The throng of onlookers had thinned, but barely, when Desmond heard a sound from inside the house that fell somewhere between a shout and a yell. Someone had been surprised, and not by anything pleasant. Within seconds, the same young garda who had found the girl appeared in the doorway, his already ashen face pulled in directions that were all wrong. What ever he’d just seen exceeded his tolerance for human ugliness.

"Sarge," he said, swallowing hard. "Something we missed before."

Excerpted from Darling Jim by Christian Moerk.

Copyright © 2007 by Christian Moerk.

Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Darling Jim is a delicious, dangerous and very original story within a story." —-Pam Lewis, author of Speak Softly, She Can Hear

Reading Group Guide

1. What makes Christian Moerk's storytelling style unique? How were you affected by the novel's innovative structure, which presents Desmond's point of view first, followed by Niall's, before weaving in the girls' voices and the legend of Euan?

2. Why does Niall's artistic vision make him the ideal person to receive Fiona's diary? What might they have thought of each other if they had met when she was alive?

3. What were your first impressions of Fiona when you began reading her words? How did her true self compare to the image of her that was inferred by the police?

4. How did your sympathies shift as you learned more about the Walsh sisters' secrets? How did their early years, and their parents' death, affect the way they handled adversity?

5. Discuss Fiona's impressions of Jim when she meets him in chapter three. Are sex appeal and storytelling the only traits that make him "darling"? Would you have been drawn to someone like him? Would you have cheated on Finbar? (C'mon, be honest!)

6. How would you describe the relationship between Fiona, Aiofe, and Róisín? How do they compare to your siblings?

7. The girls kept diaries during their captivity before they knew they would be read by anybody. Do you think that sustained them as they waited for the end? Do you think they kept diaries when they were children? And do you keep a diary? If so, why?

8. How early do you think Aunt Moira caught on to Jim's wicked ways? And do you believe that loving someone to that degree can make them forgive even the worst of crimes?

9. What gave Fiona and Róisín the ability to conquer their aunt in death? How did storytelling save them in the end?

10. Did you predict that Euan would slay Aisling, or love her? Reread the novel's closing lines. Which triumphs more often-love or death?

Customer Reviews

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Darling Jim 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Malahide, Ireland, mail carrier Desmond arrives at a house to deliver letters. The kids claim the place is haunted. When no one responds to his knock, he takes a peak inside out of curiosity only to see a corpse. The police arrive to find the murdered bodies of an aunt and her two nieces. The case remains cold although the townsfolk believe Desmond killed the three women as he has acted strange since finding the first body. Soon afterward Niall finds the diary of one of the dead sisters, Fiona. He reads about a traveling storyteller DARLING JIM who based on the entries entranced the three females. Unable to resist, Niall follows up the diary's voice claiming seducer's victims seeking to learn more about the women, their seducer Jim and a strange commentary in the journal about a wolf-prince leaving behind dead women. This is a well written strange thriller that has the audience debating throughout whether DARLING JIM is an old fashion horror tale, a psychological suspense, or a serial killer gothic thriller. Keeping readers slightly off their contentment zone, Christian Moerk uses three subplots that intermingle; all are well written enabling the audience to understand what motivated the three dead women (especially the diary writer) and how they perceive their Darling Jim, and what induced Niall to investigate. Fans who relish something different but very entertaining will enjoy this strong suspense thriller. Harriet Klausner
Annibebe More than 1 year ago
Loved this book! It sucked me in, and I couldn't put it down. So many tales wrapped up neatly with a strong, complete ending. 3 sisters, wolves, castles, twins, knights, wolves, murder, evil, seduction, lust, an aunt, and of course, Darling Jim! Highly recommend for folks who like books set in Ireland, story-telling and good writing! I can't wait to see what the author has in store next!
katknit More than 1 year ago
For centuries, storytellers have crisscrossed Ireland, weaving spells in the homes and pubs of towns and villages in return for room, board, and a little money. A few of these bards still remain in this age of instantaneous communication, and when a handsome young beguiler blows into quiet Castletownbere on his vintage motorcycle, the entire town, especially its women, falls subject to his charms. Author Moerk imbues his tale with malevolent fairy tale and mythic elements, weaving a spell of mystery and menace from the very first page. Darling Jim is no mystery - we know who ends up dead - but, as the truth is unveiled via two diaries, the atmosphere grows increasingly sinister. There is more than one monster in this book. Highly recommended to fans of subtle horror. (Note: Those who are easily offended by language and sexual content will not enjoy Darling Jim.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Darling Jim is a masterpiece. There's no other way for me to describe it. It's witty, thrilling and keeps you hooked from cover to cover. Christian's writing style is addicting and can't wait to read what he comes up with next. Five stars!
Shricky More than 1 year ago
Interesting characters, very unique plot, original and at times very dramatic. Very easy to be swept away with "Darling Jim". I hope everyone enjoys the adventure as much as I did.
ForeignCircus on LibraryThing 10 months ago
In this story within a story, postman Niall finds the diary of a young woman at the center of a murder mystery, and begins to reconstruct the torrid tale behind the murder house and a series of missing women in the west of Ireland. As we learn more about the three Walsh sisters, their Aunt Moira, and the diabolical itinerant storyteller Darling Jim, a brooding sense of foreboding develops that sets the tone for the entire novel. Between the story within a story within a story format, the mystical elements, and the country appropriate language, I feared this novel might crumble beneath the weight, but instead it transported me to a place of suspended disbelief where everything made its own strange sort of sense. I was most impressed that the author managed to draw out the anxiety to a fever pitch and then maintain that level of intensity until the very last pages of the novel. The writing is crisp, the language spot-on, and the story itself a truly unusual addition to my library. I started reading and simply couldn't put this book down, no matter how much I wanted to at times as the story grew darker and darker. I highly recommend this magnificent book and look forward reading more by this talented writer.
agjuba on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I received "Darling Jim" as a LT Early Reviewer book. As I started the book, I was immediately sucked into the spooky and sinister mystery of the death of a woman and her two nieces inside the aunt's house. The remainder of the novel was equally suspenseful, and I read it quickly (for me) to figure out what had transpired. I think the reviewer who described the book as "labyrinthine" was exactly right -- several times I had to go back to figure out what had happened or remind myself of an obscure reference. All in all a good read -- very atmospheric and very compelling with well-realized characters with only a few too many convenient twists and turns.
Bookmarque on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Spoilerific.Not everyone is a fan of the technique used in this novel, but I am. I don't know the proper terminology for it, but it's when the ultimate outcome (or at least a major outcome) is known at the outset and the story deals with how this outcome came to pass and what (if any) repercussions are still to come. I don't mind knowing a big development up front if the author is adept at making me really want to know why this event happened. This has to be done with care and skill. Moerk has both and introduces Niall, a character who, like us, needs to find out what happened to the Walsh sisters. We know only what he knows and go along with him as he discovers more. Overall it's very well done. The fixation with wolves in the novel was a bit heavy handed; from Niall's inability to draw them to Jim's never-ending tale, it was just a bit too much. Like, yeah, we get it; he's a wolf like in fairy tales. The story Jim told went on too long sometimes, too, taking me out of the story and diminishing the tension too much.Niall is sort of a timid loser of a man, trapped in a dead-end job fantasizing about becoming a comic-book illustrator. He spends a lot of his time lost in a dream-like state, drawing scene after scene. Trouble is, he's not that good and he has no story to tell. When he discovers a diary in the dead letter office late at night, he's captivated by it at once. Even before he reads it, he knows it will be earth shattering because it's the diary of Fiona Walsh, one of the women killed recently in what appears to be a bizarre family feud. Diaries and letters are another of my favorite techniques and Moerk does a reasonable job with presenting us with two diaries.After Niall is sacked he takes off in search of answers eventually ending up in the town where it all started. Three sisters missing, two found dead along with their aunt whose head was bashed in. The bodies of the remaining sisters, Fiona and Roisin, show signs of slow poisoning, starvation and physical cruelty. It's clear that Aunt Moira had been keeping them prisoner for some time. But why? The locals are no help and are downright jerks most of the time. I don't know if rural Irish are this ignorant, arrogant, narrow and stupid or if Moerk has an axe to grind, but jeez the lot of them were really just assholes. Bigoted and narrow-minded, determined to rewrite history to make themselves look good and decent, with neighbors like that I'd rather be a hermit. Niall was his own worst enemy at times, but these people were impossible, judgmental assholes. If the Irish legal system is anything like it's portrayed in this book, I cringe just thinking about it.Anyway, aside from the Irish people character assassination, the book was well done. Paced to set tension and release it in good proportion. Just when one thing gets discovered or put into place another springs up. Some of it was predictable though if you read enough of this genre. Aoife's pregnancy for example was really obvious. Ditto for Jim having a brother. Neither came as a surprise and that was a tiny bit of a let-down. After a reasonably original beginning I hoped for something a bit more off track. Although I will say that Jim's brother was even less attractive than Jim himself. A couple of hideous sociopaths the pair of them. And what gives with the armed response? And people say Americans are militia crazy. Again¿are the rural Irish really like this or is it just exaggeration? It seemed really weird.The sisters were well-drawn and quirky, but individually quirky, they aren't the same. I understand a bit how two came to be entranced by Jim having known a sociopath or two in my lifetime. I also know what it's like to be attracted to the dark stranger in the crowd. And having a couple of motorcycles myself, I know they are a irresistible lure to many people. The whole town being seduced is another story and it was sort of unreal that the sisters' friends and neighbors could turn on them so quickly. Again,
ccourtland on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A dark tale told successfully from a feminine point of view by a male author. It is a story within a story within a story. The perspective does change, but the author makes transitions easy to follow and does it seamlessly without creating any disjointed jolt in time. It held my interest all the way through and I thought all the characters were fully developed and engaging. Although this was a story within a story within a story, I would have liked the main tale to remain the forward focus. It needed to carry the weight and continue to capture the audience. The supporting stories provided details, but at times became a bit too lengthy. Towards the end, the story began taking on a fantasy form using fairy tale descriptions of wizards and princes, which created a fairy tale like theme and could have worked if the author remained more concrete with his details. I think this approach was done to create a 'mysterious' atmosphere but because it did not remained 'grounded' it took away from the actual horror of the story by making it too unbelievable and I began to lose some of the sympathy I originally felt for the sister characters.
nfmgirl2 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Jim is a charming storyteller, and he has a way with the ladies. Fiona becomes enamored with him, just as all the other women in town, and before she knows it she and her sisters have been dragged into a web of danger and deceit. Through their diaries, as read by Niall, we begin to learn their story.This was a good story. It wasn't quite what I had expected, and not quite as good as I had hoped, but good nonetheless. I had a difficult time with much of the book for some reason, but I'm not sure whether it was the writing style or just my own ADD causing me trouble through distraction.The story takes place in a small Irish town, and something about it had a touch of a goth feel. It sort of made me think of Hansel and Gretel. Of the two diaries that make up most of the story, I found the diary of Roisin more engaging, and Aoife my favorite character.The ending was pretty satisfying- I wasn't left wanting. The characters pretty well fleshed out. All in all, an enjoyable story.
knittingfreak on LibraryThing 10 months ago
First up, Darling Jim by Christian Moerk, which as I said is an arc from Library Thing. I purposely didn't read any of the reviews posted at LT. I'll go check them out after I get my thoughts down here. I'm always afraid I'll be influenced, even subconsciously, by reading reviews so close to finishing a book. I really enjoyed this one. For me, it started with a great cover, which looks like a torn piece of paper containing one of the diary entries of Fiona Walsh, one of the three Walsh sisters who live in modern day Dublin. They're all grown and lead relatively normal, happy lives even though they've had their fair share of past tragedy. Their parents died in an explosion, which left the sisters to the care of their aunt, Moira Hegarty. Moira is unstable but seemingly harmless, at least in the beginning. The sisters tolerate her quirks and continue to visit her weekly mostly out of a sense of obligation.It's funny how one seemingly small event can drastically change the course of one's life. This is exactly what happens for the Walsh sisters and their aunt when a young, charismatic, itinerant storyteller finds his way to their village. Jim seems to be able to seduce virtually any woman of any age by telling them what they want to hear. He is a professional storyteller after all.I enjoyed the mood and the atmosphere the author creates in this book. I also really liked the sections in which Jim tells his stories. I knew there was some type of connection between the story he was telling and his life, but I didn't figure it out right away. There were a couple of times in the book that I questioned the actions of one or more of the sisters. I just didn't believe anyone would react that way to the circumstances. I won't go into detail because it will spoil the story. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.
alexann on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This story within a story within a story moves really slowly. Perhaps all those layers get in the way. A woman and her two nieces are found dead in her home. The nieces had apparently been held hostage, revolted, and killed the aunt. A young postal worker retrieves a package from the dead letter bin containing a diary written by one of the girls, telling her story. Later another diary turns up, written by her sister. This means that the bulk of the tale is told by people who have already died! Slightly distancing. Niall, the postal worker, is compelled to visit the village where the girls lived to interview the natives and see for himself the place it all happened. As he pieces it together a sense of foreboding develops. There is both too much and too little detail to make it seem realistic.
freckled on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This book is mystifying and creepy...in fact, creepy doesn't do the experience of reading this book justice. Dark, entrancing, confusing....elements of Tana French pop up in descriptions of the landscape and communities (not only because both authors set their stories in Ireland). The characters of the sisters, Fiona, Róisín and Aoife, are entrancing, and I became attached quickly, needing to know how the story would end. At the same time as freaking me out, the writing impressed me more than many "suspense" novels.
24girl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I was mesmerized by this book from the first chapter. The story is told mostly by the sisters diaries so you get a feel for the big picture but you can¿t really tell what¿s going on until the very end.Moerk writes beautifully and weaves a story that flows from page to page. Interwoven with the diaries is the story told by Jim as he¿s enthralling the town. I found myself sucked in to both the diaries and the story surrounding the death of the sisters and aunt. I didn¿t want to put the book down and stayed thinking about it long after the last page was read. The book comes to an amazing end that was not at all surprising but still satisfying. I highly recommend this to all suspense lovers.
lenoreva on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Three sisters - Fiona, Róisín and Aoife ¿ and their aunt all fall under the spell of ¿Darling¿ Jim, a storyteller in the Irish seanchaí tradition who speaks of wolves and predatory men. The result of this enchantment is that at the start of the novel, most of the main characters are dead and the rest are missing. It is up to mailman Niall, who finds Fiona¿s diary in his dead letter bin, to find out what really happened.The foreboding but fascinating fairy tale Jim tells over successive nights (which we read about in Fiona¿s diary) permeates this mystery story. Is there something paranormal afoot or is Jim simply a really nasty human specimen? Especially impressive is the very authentic Irish atmosphere ¿ amazing, really, when you consider Author Moerk is Danish and lives in Brooklyn, New York.As far as the characters, we get a good sense of Fiona and Róisín by reading their diaries, but Aoife, the aunt and even Jim remain slippery, their motivations somewhat understandable but still quite puzzling. Unfortunately, the mailmain, Niall, seems more like a device to hold the narrative together than a fully formed, relatable character.Things may wrap up a bit too neatly for such a haunting premise, but the story sticks with you. I¿d recommend to readers of ¿darker¿ novels such as John Connelly¿s THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS or Michel Faber¿s UNDER THE SKIN.
stonelaura on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This debut novel has an intriguing premise: A psychotic, but charismatic, travelling storyteller, Jim, enchants the Irish countryside with his tale of a bewitched man/wolf, including three sisters and their aunt, who end up captivated in ways that come to no good. When an artistic postman happens upon the diary of one of the sisters he becomes involved in unraveling the mystery of their involvement with Darling Jim. The story is creative enough that we want to find out who survives and how, but ultimately, the story has too many improbable moments and rushes to an awkward and simplified ending.
cvjacobs on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Christian Moerk¿s Darling Jim is a haunting tale of wolves, magic, evil, a story teller and three not-so-innocent girls that will raise the hair on the back of your neck. It starts one night as an aspiring artist turned postman is drawing in the post office sorting section after clocking out. When Niall tosses the crumpled wolf drawing into the dead letter bin, he discovers a diary written by Fiona Walsh. Recognizing the name from press accounts of her death and those of her aunt and sister, Niall can hardly wait to get home and read what this is about. Once he begins turning the pages of Fiona¿s diary, his whole life begins to change as he becomes obsessed with unraveling the secrets of the Walsh girls¿ lives.Even though this is a debut novel, Moerk has a full palette of writing skills. His beautiful prose heightens the creepy, suspenseful pace. Grab this one for a great read, but only in the daylight.
gracee002 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
It didn't take long to tell Darling Jim by Christian Moerk was one of those rare books that is instantaneously mesmerizing, engrossing, and hard-to-put-down. Within paragraphs I was transported to Malahide, and walking alongside Desmond, and then Niall, as the story of the Walsh sisters began to unfold. Within pages, I was so engrossed and invested in the story of Fiona, Aiofa, and Rosisin, I found any distraction, (work, family, friends...), intensely unwelcome and exasperating. The story was so engrossing, that even thought Author Moerk reveals early on the tragic outcome, I found myself hoping for, and believing in, a more desirable conclusion. Christian Moerk weaved and spun the story so skillfully; I literally forgot the outcome had been revealed. I found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, thinking about how it was all going to end, and how the Walsh girls would fare through their horrific ordeals; the disclosed outcome, sitting forgotten and denied, in the back of my mind. This was such a satisfying and gratifying read. I was equally invested in the Walsh girl¿s story, as I was in the story of Eeuan and Ned, Niall, Aunt Moira and of course, undeniably...the story of Darling Jim. This book is one of those beloved favorites, which will be re-read, discussed and contemplated again and again. I look forward to opening it again soon, and getting lost in the haunting and gripping story, page after page. I am so appreciative to have had the opportunity to discover this novel early on. I hope many, many others have the good fortune to open the pages of Darling Jim.
miyurose on LibraryThing 10 months ago
This was a haunting story of three sisters who find themselves both directly and indirectly under the spell of ¿Darling¿ Jim, a storyteller in the Irish seanchaí tradition. Fiona falls for him first, but soon her sisters Róisín and Aoife are just as affected when he works his magic on their aunt. The mailman Niall is sucked into their tragic story when he finds Fiona¿s diary after she, Róisín, and their aunt are found dead. But where is Aoife? And what happened to Jim? Niall¿s compulsive search for the truth takes him back to the town where it all started, and to the second part of the story. I thought this was a wonderful read and I was completely sucked in. I loved how Moerk tied in the story Jim tells to the overall book, and still leaves us a touch of mystery at the end.
zibilee on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Darling Jim, the intense new thriller from Christian Moerk, opens with a mystery: On his daily rounds, a mailman discovers the body of a woman, dead in her home. When the police arrive, they discover much more: There are 2 more dead bodies hidden in rooms behind locked doors. The bodies come to be identified as those of Moira Hegarty and her two young nieces, Fiona and Roisin Walsh. As the story behind these brutal murders deepens, Fiona's diary is discovered by cartoonist and postal sorter Niall. Niall, entranced with the diary of the dead woman, embarks on a journey to the Walsh's sisters hometown in Ireland to discover the answers to the cryptic clues Fiona left behind. And what he discovers is the family's link to Jim, an itinerant storyteller traveling throughout the area telling his stories at local pubs each night. As Niall follows the clues, he learns of the complicated and cruel fate that Jim spins among the women and of his legion of female fans that follow him all over the country. But there is more to Darling Jim, as he comes to be known. Jim spins an elaborate fable that not only draws his listeners in, but also houses the keys to his dark soul and wicked intentions. Niall's search becomes a race against time after discovering the existence a third missing sister, who may have escaped the fate of her family but who still may be in danger. Niall's journey becomes a long and difficult odyssey as he comes face to face with peril and jeopardy with every step he takes in order to save the surviving sister's honor, and possibly even her life.This was an extraordinarily clever book, and it was a pleasure to relish each and every twist and turn in the story. Written with verve and acuity, the author seemed to have a great handle on timing, believability and dialogue. The characters were quirky and atypical, and each held their own distinctive personality and style throughout the story. The sisters' voices, coming from beyond the grave, expertly captured both their outrage at their situation and their determination for escape.I admit, I didn't think this book was going to be as fun as it ended up being. I mean, with a triple murder haunting the opening pages, one does not expect fun. But the narrative had definite humor mixed with its pathos in a way I didn't expect. I found myself laughing at the oddness and eccentricities within the pages, especially the colorful colloquialisms in the sisters' wordplay. I really liked Niall, who began the story as a lonely loser but soon came to be an adventuresome and unlikely hero. Niall's commitment to the sisters he had never met was touching, and I felt it impossible not to root for this lovable and bumbling character. Jim, too, was interesting, a deliberate and dastardly foe, and his presence resonated through the pages, even when he wasn't the focus of the narrative. He had a dark charisma that made even the most stalwart of women smitten with him.One of the winning things about this story were the sections of the book devoted to the ominous fairy tale that Jim created. This technique was particularly inventive, essentially hiding a story within a story. In fact, this book actually contained three stories: the main narrative, Jim's story, and the back story related by Fiona's dairy. Each of these stories was captivating in different ways, but all worked together and blended well and kept the level of suspense tight and controlled throughout the book. Another thing that I liked was the author's command of the elements and language of his story. He was aptly descriptive without being verbose, and the action and grist of the plot never veered off into unbelievability or precociousness. Though I did guess at one of the aspects of the conclusion of the novel, I wasn't at all disappointed because I thoroughly enjoyed the ride that took me there and appreciated the thought and creativity that the author put into this book.This was not a common story, it had a lot of spunk and vivacity, a
alluvia on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Darling Jim was a perfect read just before St. Patrick¿s Day, just by happy circumstance.This is an engaging, romantic tale with healthy dollops of gothic fun and Irish superstition on top. Most of the action is credible, although I had to will myself stubbornly to continue my suspension of disbelief in several parts. Most difficult to believe were the bits about how instantly ¿darling Jim¿ put our main characters under his spell. The text veered dangerously into what I¿d call ¿the Twilight zone¿ (and I do mean the teenybop vampire tale, not the tv show) but then recovered nicely.Once past this slightly awkward stumble, the story was on its feet and running nimbly full speed ahead through ancient forests, twisted pysches, and sisterly bonds to my great delight.I agree with earlier reviewers that I often wondered as I read,¿Why in the world aren¿t they going to the police?!¿ or ¿Seriously, wouldn¿t the police have looked into that further?¿ But if you can overlook these nagging doubts, there is much enjoyable reading to be had here.
Kasthu on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Darling Jim opens with a triple murder¿a woman is found beaten in the head downstairs in her house in Dublin, while two younger women are found upstairs, starved to death. There are signs that a third person has been present. Later, a young postal employee finds one of the younger women¿s diary in the dead-letter bin; reading it, he begins to piece together the shocking circumstances of the three women¿s deaths, starting with an itinerant, seductive storyteller named Jim. The opening of this novel is written kind of like a newspaper article. It gets interesting when Niall finds the notebook, and even more so when Fiona, Aoife, and Riosin¿s stories take over. I couldn¿t ever figure out why Niall was so determined to discover what happened to the Walsh sisters, other than the discovery of the diary. It was a bit hard for me to really understand why Jim was such a beguiling character; he just wasn¿t as well portrayed as the Walshes were, or even Niall. And the sisters were too disparate, too stereotypical, to be believable (one¿s the brain, one¿s the Goth, one¿s the hippy). But other than that, this is a strongly, darkly emotional story, likeable for the most part, and with a twisted, riveting plot that will keep you reading through the end.
carioca on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I thought this book had a lot of potential and I was mesmerized at the beginning...I am a huge fan of well-crafted mysteries that include atmospheric descriptions of physical surroundings, and this one seemed to be exactly my type of story. And I did enjoy most of it - I only thought that the storytelling chapters (with the wolves etc) were a bit long and I caught myself wishing they were over so I could return to the "real" plot. I mean, I can definitely appreciate the seanchai tradition, but maybe it was altogether too ambition. All in all, a fun read and I would definitely recommend it to friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not get beyond the early chapters.