You know how there are some books where you read the description and you know immediately you’re going to love them? That’s how I felt about Himself. I could tell before reading a single page of it that it ticked so many of my boxes. Crime fiction set in Ireland with a little magical realism thrown in—yes to all of that, all day long. I was so excited to read it, I had to Prancercise my energy out.
And for the most part, the book fulfilled my sky-high expectations. Mahony, the devastatingly handsome orphan, now grown, who returns to the town of his birth to find out the truth of his origins, wooed me right along with all the ladies in Mulderrig. Growing up in a Dublin orphanage, he’d been told by the nuns that his mother had abandoned him, but he finds out that the truth might be more sinister than that. He and his unlikely sidekick, Mrs. Cauley, an old, crotchety lady with a heart of gold and theatrical aspirations, set out to investigate the disappearance of his mother through the unlikely avenue of a community stage production.
Mulderrig is a funny place populated by funny people (both living and dead), and for a book about prostitution, murder, and corruption, Himself is snort-inducingly amusing. What kept it from being a perfectly perfect reading experience for me was some ambiguity in the final pages that took away my satisfaction in the ending. I read the passage over several times, and I’m not sure if the fault is on my part or the author’s, but one of the big questions I thought had been answered maybe wasn’t answered after all, and that left me feeling oddly crestfallen. Still, I loved the whimsy and the magic and the sly wit, and will look forward eagerly to Jess Kidd’s next endeavor.