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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 ma 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 office’s dead-letter bin. From beyond the grave, Fiona Walsh shares the most tragic love story he’s 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 Jim’s own fictional plots. The Walsh sisters, fiercely loyal to one another, were not immune to “darling” Jim’s powers of seduction, but found themselves in harm’s 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 there’s still time. And in the woods, the wolves from Jim’s stories begin to gather.


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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 ma 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 office’s dead-letter bin. From beyond the grave, Fiona Walsh shares the most tragic love story he’s 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 Jim’s own fictional plots. The Walsh sisters, fiercely loyal to one another, were not immune to “darling” Jim’s powers of seduction, but found themselves in harm’s 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 there’s still time. And in the woods, the wolves from Jim’s stories begin to gather.

30 review for Darling Jim

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    (Warning: this book is super violent. Especially against animals (yuck!) and including sexual violence toward women.) I had a lot of problems with this book (they're detailed below because I felt the need to vent!), but they all amount to: 1. The women in this book (even though it's their story) have no agency; their story is collected and concluded by a man. 2. This book requires some HUGE suspensions of disbelief, especially about the police and criminal investigations. So why 3 stars ("I liked (Warning: this book is super violent. Especially against animals (yuck!) and including sexual violence toward women.) I had a lot of problems with this book (they're detailed below because I felt the need to vent!), but they all amount to: 1. The women in this book (even though it's their story) have no agency; their story is collected and concluded by a man. 2. This book requires some HUGE suspensions of disbelief, especially about the police and criminal investigations. So why 3 stars ("I liked the book")? Despite these things, I did enjoy the story. I liked the Irish mythology, and especially enjoyed the stories Jim told. I'm always a sucker for diary formats, and the initial crime-scene description was riveting. (Also, I listened on audio, and the female reader was fabulous.) Problems with this book (spoilers): (view spoiler)[ * I can't suspend my disbelief this much over the diaries. They're too detailed and literate, and contain lots of descriptions and dialogue. No way they were written by dying, imprisoned girls. * I can't suspend my disbelief over the stupidity of the police. No one seems to care or to be investigating any of the murders. Or robberies. DNA isn't even mentioned until like the 65% mark. * I can't suspend my disbelief over the characters' stupid actions. Characters do or don't do things based on the demands of the narrative, not based on how people actually act. This really irritates me. (Example: Why the hell doesn't Niall just google what happened to Jim? Why does he keep asking people to tell him his fate? Well, it's to keep the reader in suspense, but that's freaking annoying.) * Fiona is a terrible person (sexist, racist, a stalker) and it's hard to feel empathy for her, even during her diary's narrative. (Her other sisters seemed cool, though.) * (This relates to the above.) Civilians are able to find things at the crime scene that the cops miss. Sometimes even years later. AURGH. * There's no way any of this could have happened without a huge media uproar. I understand this was supposed to be a knight's quest, complete with storyteller "seanchai" and a crippled prince and feral wolf and damsels in distress, but the modern setting just didn't work for me. (hide spoiler)]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    I picked up Darling Jim at the library this afternoon and just "finished" it, which in this case means I stopped really reading it early on and just skimmed through the rest to see if it could be that bad all the way through. It was. Now I feel like my brain needs a breath mint. A handsome, sexy drifter rides his bright red antique motorcycle into a sleepy Irish town. Think Paul Newman in Long Hot Summer but on a bike - although in this case instead of being a blue-eyed blond, the drifter has "bl I picked up Darling Jim at the library this afternoon and just "finished" it, which in this case means I stopped really reading it early on and just skimmed through the rest to see if it could be that bad all the way through. It was. Now I feel like my brain needs a breath mint. A handsome, sexy drifter rides his bright red antique motorcycle into a sleepy Irish town. Think Paul Newman in Long Hot Summer but on a bike - although in this case instead of being a blue-eyed blond, the drifter has "black Keanu Reeves hair" and eyes like "black pools". Oh, and he's also got a "sugar coated" voice "as smooth as a cat's." And not only does our Darling Jim ooze sex appeal but he can apparently mesmerize women from across the street with only a glance, "read [their:] desires with his eyes closed" and set sisters at each others throats in jealousy after only one day. And his amazing powers don't end with women, either. Like a weird combination of Charles Manson and John F. Kennedy, Jim's charismatic personality and good looks ensnare the entire town. Although the evidence is overwhelming that Darling Jim is a rapist and killer, everyone but the victims turn a blind eye to it because they are so enamored with him and his amazing storytelling abilities. In fact, his loss drives one woman (who admittedly was eccentric to begin with) over the edge of insanity, causing her to imprison and torture her nieces. And this summary doesn't even touch on the ridiculous subplot of the highly literate and thoughtful diaries written by the nieces as they are dying of rat poisoning and starvation. Would anyone who is waiting to be violently murdered take the time to write that "time has run out" and "here she comes...my dear aunt, dragging her miserable self up the stairs"? Moerk's characters do. They also have ways of getting those diaries mailed posthumously, to be found and read by a small-town postal worker who, instead of taking the information to the police, decides to "unravel" the mystery himself. Because I am trying to be fair, I will say that on the plus side, there is a cat named Oscar in the book. Other than that...well, I suppose it could have been longer.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Abel

    I am torn on this review. Darling Jim was an enjoyable read with interesting characters, a fast-faced plot, and rich description. However, some parts were very unrealistic and this distracted me. When a story is related through something such as a character's letter, the story should not shift between present and past tense or go into lengthy detail about events that happened years ago. No one can recall every detail of an incident that played out over a few weeks years ago, no matter how signif I am torn on this review. Darling Jim was an enjoyable read with interesting characters, a fast-faced plot, and rich description. However, some parts were very unrealistic and this distracted me. When a story is related through something such as a character's letter, the story should not shift between present and past tense or go into lengthy detail about events that happened years ago. No one can recall every detail of an incident that played out over a few weeks years ago, no matter how significant the ordeal. While the girl's stories, told through two letters, are well-written, they are implausible because of the aforementioned facts. The other aspect of the novel that I didn't care for was the subplot of Jim's stories. They were far too long and took away from the main plot. Though the narrator tells us everyone is fascinated by Jim's stories, they couldn't keep my attention. The bizarre ending connected with the stories made me further dislike them. Overall, I probably would not recommend this book. The suspension of disbelief the story required to be plausible combined with the distracting subplot outweigh the novel's good parts, which are the engaging characters, the suspense, and the descriptive language.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandie

    This modern Gothic novel will grab you and whisk you away on a reading adventure you will not soon forget. The author of DARLING JIM presents his readers with an elaborate and sumptuous tale, some finely tuned dialogue, a tightly crafted plot plus some memorable and engaging characters. The story begins with a bang as an inquisitive Dublin mailman discovers the bodies of three females at a home along his route. Who are these women and how did the meet their untimely end? Author, Christian Moerk ha This modern Gothic novel will grab you and whisk you away on a reading adventure you will not soon forget. The author of DARLING JIM presents his readers with an elaborate and sumptuous tale, some finely tuned dialogue, a tightly crafted plot plus some memorable and engaging characters. The story begins with a bang as an inquisitive Dublin mailman discovers the bodies of three females at a home along his route. Who are these women and how did the meet their untimely end? Author, Christian Moerk has chosen as his narrative vehicle the journals of two of the victims. Through them he introduces us to three sisters, their aunt and a seductive creator of stories named Jim Quick. The journals reveal the sisters as competitive yet devoted to each other, the aunt as an unstable character who swings like a pendulum between frumpy recluse and stylish femme-fatale, and Quick as a cunning, manipulative and charming predator who has cast himself as a wolf in this saga and visualizes any female unfortunate enough to cross his path as easy prey. This book has it all. It is at once fairy tale, a romance, an allegory, a murder mystery, and a psychological thriller with the authors’ version of Irish mythology thrown it for good measure. For any reader who likes a little meat on the bones of their novels, DARLING JIM will provide you with a hearty repast.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allison Ketchell

    Like his con artist storyteller, Jim Quick, Christian Moerk weaves a Gothic tale of suspense that draws its audience in, compelling us to find out how it all ends. The structure is intricate, but adds to the mood. The book opens with mail carrier Desmond finding the body of an old woman on his route. When the police investigate, they find not only the body of Moira, but the bodies of two young women who were apparently her prisoners. Further investigation reveals that the girls were Moira's niec Like his con artist storyteller, Jim Quick, Christian Moerk weaves a Gothic tale of suspense that draws its audience in, compelling us to find out how it all ends. The structure is intricate, but adds to the mood. The book opens with mail carrier Desmond finding the body of an old woman on his route. When the police investigate, they find not only the body of Moira, but the bodies of two young women who were apparently her prisoners. Further investigation reveals that the girls were Moira's nieces, and that a third prisoner was present at some time, but escaped. The structure immediately pulls in the reader, who knows that something horrible and dramatic must have happened, but like the police, the reader is utterly baffled. When a postal service employee, Niall, happens upon a package with the return address of one of the dead girls and impulsively takes it home with him. It turns out to be the diary of Fiona Walsh, one of the dead girls in the house. She tells the story of Jim, a storyteller who has captivated all the women in town with his fairy tale and dangerous good looks, and who arrives in town just about when mysterious deaths begin to occur. When Fiona's diary comes to an abrupt end, Niall (and the reader) is obsessed with the story and heads to the town where Fiona says the events began to see if he can pick up the thread of how the girls met their fate. He happens upon the diary of Roisin, Fiona's sister, which fills in many of the question marks. The Gothic suspense is thick and irresistible, the story tight, and the fiddly novel structure, which would have seemed amateurish and clunky in another type of book, is perfectly suited to creating the dark, foreboding mood in Darling Jim. The level of detail in the diaries is absurd, of course--no one writes detailed dialogue or remembers every event like that, but that's part of the point, and it sweeps the reader into the story. Darling Jim is an excellent, spooky read for those who like their plot labyrinthine and their suspense relentless.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    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 Nial 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, and kept me turning the pages in anticipation. This is the first novel from Moerk, and based on this book, I will be on the lookout for his next work. I would recommend this book to those who like quick witted mysteries/thrillers with a generous helping of humor. A really fun read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Starting to think I might have been too generous with my two stars. Oh well. Where to start...this book wasn't too compelling, at least in my opinion, I had no trouble putting it down for a while. This storyteller Jim is supposed to be so unbelievably charismatic and sexy on his motorcycle that every single girl is inexplicably drawn to him, even against her will. Except one girl, and that's because she's a lesbian. I'm going to state it once: It annoys me that this was written by a male author, a Starting to think I might have been too generous with my two stars. Oh well. Where to start...this book wasn't too compelling, at least in my opinion, I had no trouble putting it down for a while. This storyteller Jim is supposed to be so unbelievably charismatic and sexy on his motorcycle that every single girl is inexplicably drawn to him, even against her will. Except one girl, and that's because she's a lesbian. I'm going to state it once: It annoys me that this was written by a male author, about a man so bewitching the whole town is able to overlook that he's clearly a rapist and a murderer? And if one girl isn't attracted to him, it's because she's a lesbian. What was so great about Jim? He oozed sex appeal apparently, too bad it didn't translate to the reader. Probably the worst thing about this book, besides the sexism and the idea that the guy finding the diaries is supposed to be the 'knight in shining armor' for some reason, (why, exactly? He's not bringing them justice in any way. It was the 3 sisters that carried everything out and braved death) it was the inherent randomness and predictable Gothic elements that existed just for the sake of existing. There was a story about wolves that was supposedly parallel to the real plot about twin brothers, which didn't exactly make sense to me, and I didn't care enough to try and understand it. Everything was revealed in the end like it was some puzzle that all fit together, except there was literally nothing that fit together or made any sense at all. Why is there a guy in a castle, and why is he supposed to be a wizard? Since when were there wizards? Why is he in a wheelchair? How is that relevant? What is the twins relationship? Something about them sleeping with their sister, what? (Did the author say, "Mysterious pregnancy, check. Castle, check. Romance interspersed with murder, check. How can I make this even more Gothic? Let's add a seemingly random paragraph about incest"). The protagonist had found his way into the 'castle' to confront the wheelchair bound brother, who was all set to command his henchmen to kill the guy, and then all of a sudden didn't, and let him go, for no reason besides convenience to the plot. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. Then one of the sisters left for 3 years and for some reason couldn't tell her sisters why, and predictably it was because she was pregnant with the baby of her rapist the 'wolf' which is infuriating, and also holds no relevance besides being completely and annoyingly predictable. Why does every book that claims to be Gothic have to include a mysterious pregnancy? A lot of the other reviews seem to be complaining about the plausibility of the girls writing eloquent diaries while starving in captivity, but to me that that was the most plausible out of everything. It was almost like the author just grabbed a bunch of Gothic elements and crudely stapled them into a 'story,' claiming to be a 'mystery' when really it was laughable and somewhat insulting. And then even though the police and their dogs found no more evidence at the murder scene, the aunt was able to dig around and conveniently found several pieces of incriminating evidence that the girls left behind and somehow never realized it. I keep thinking of dumber and dumber plot holes as I go on. 'Darling Jim' had a cult following through young girls obsessed with him, because he was just THAT inexplicably amazing that every girl lost her wits around him and hung out on his grave years after he died. There was something about his companion that robbed houses while he had sex with the girls, and then for some reason he killed his companion? Isn't there an easier way to rob houses? Why was he killing girls? Why didn't he kill Fiona? What was the point of raping one of the sisters, just to degrade women even more? And it wasn't really clear to me why he started dating the old aunt, either. To cover his tracks? Weak, just very weak. Now that I think of it, almost nothing that happened seemed to have a legitimate reason behind it, other than plot convenience. And now my review is rambling because of it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Collin Shea

    I was very interested to read this book written by a Danish-born and raised author who has spent the last 20+ years living in the U.S. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book had what I thought was an authentically Irish feel - traveling story-tellers, a sense of the mysterious and very mystical, and fairytales. Not just any fairytales, but scary fairytales that evolve from real-life, as well as real-life unknowingly mimicking fairytales. The sense that there is something sacred about t I was very interested to read this book written by a Danish-born and raised author who has spent the last 20+ years living in the U.S. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the book had what I thought was an authentically Irish feel - traveling story-tellers, a sense of the mysterious and very mystical, and fairytales. Not just any fairytales, but scary fairytales that evolve from real-life, as well as real-life unknowingly mimicking fairytales. The sense that there is something sacred about the stories of folklore - that the importance of hearing the end of a tale is worth postponing a justifiably vengeful killing. Mentions of history and historical figures (Eamon de Valera, in particular) in a very honorable way. If there was anything that I didn't like about this book it was that the reason Aoife disappeared for 3 years was too predictable and there was no explanation of where her child was once she came back and the sisters were being held captive by Moira. Lastly, although he was the evil doer, I did love the Irish charming cad of a man, who can charm the panties off any lady, regardless of the evil that truly lies within. Perhaps yet another role for Colin Farrell?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    What a very strange book. I did not care for it - I can not believe that any group of young women could be lured into virtual slavery & meet certain death in the manor described. I found it to be rubish. The language was offensive also. Perhaps some will like the "horror" of it - I did not find it compelling to read & only finished it because it was a book club selection. What a very strange book. I did not care for it - I can not believe that any group of young women could be lured into virtual slavery & meet certain death in the manor described. I found it to be rubish. The language was offensive also. Perhaps some will like the "horror" of it - I did not find it compelling to read & only finished it because it was a book club selection.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    I didn't care for this. I really skimmed the last quarter of this book. Oh well.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    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 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Debut novelist Christian Moerk has written a fascinating tale of three sisters, their deranged aunt, and the lethal charmer who ensnares them all. Darling Jim will hold you in its grip until the satisfying conclusion. Suspense, love, and murder: this story offers you all three on a plate along with a pint of Guinness. The Irish setting adds to the mystique when the narrative jumps between sisters and to the postman who finds their diaries after their tragic deaths. How did they die? Why did thei Debut novelist Christian Moerk has written a fascinating tale of three sisters, their deranged aunt, and the lethal charmer who ensnares them all. Darling Jim will hold you in its grip until the satisfying conclusion. Suspense, love, and murder: this story offers you all three on a plate along with a pint of Guinness. The Irish setting adds to the mystique when the narrative jumps between sisters and to the postman who finds their diaries after their tragic deaths. How did they die? Why did their aunt keep them chained in their rooms? Were they murderers as gossip claimed? And if so, what set these three innocent sisters on the path to destruction? Character studies of each personality involved are detailed and believable as you come to understand what motivated their actions. Would you have done the same if you were in their shoes? How desperate would you have to be to kill someone? As for the true murderer, did he really have a choice, or was it in his nature to hunt prey like a wolf? This story will haunt your mind long after it’s over.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    5/2015: I just have to write a quick update to say that this book has continued to linger on in my imagination and that I literally crave the imaginative, escapist, dark-fairytale-like space it took me to when I read it two years ago. Few stories grow in my mind as times goes on, but Darling Jim is one of them. A quick review before I forget some of my initial impressions. This suspense novel was unique in that it incorporated a sort of fairytale feel along with the horror and mystery. It takes p 5/2015: I just have to write a quick update to say that this book has continued to linger on in my imagination and that I literally crave the imaginative, escapist, dark-fairytale-like space it took me to when I read it two years ago. Few stories grow in my mind as times goes on, but Darling Jim is one of them. A quick review before I forget some of my initial impressions. This suspense novel was unique in that it incorporated a sort of fairytale feel along with the horror and mystery. It takes place in Ireland, and one of the great strengths of the novel is how very much it gives one a sense of the culture and attitude of the people. This may sound simplistic, but to me, it gave me a fascinating sense of the present-day Irish, in a way that had nothing to do with leprechauns and pots of gold, but in a way that highlighted their culture as different from their English neighbors. This novel was unique, and difficult to describe mix of horror and lust for life. I enjoyed it, and hope that the author writes more in future.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Wow! I really enjoyed this book! The unique structure (who doesn't love the inclusion of secret diaries?!), Irish setting and wonderfully fascinating characters all came together to create a spectacular novel, rich in atmosphere and suspense. I especially liked the twin aspect - that always spices a book up (especially for me, long time Wakefield twins fan). Though the plot was not terribly unpredictable, it was marvelously entertaining and I read it in one sitting! I will definitely be on the l Wow! I really enjoyed this book! The unique structure (who doesn't love the inclusion of secret diaries?!), Irish setting and wonderfully fascinating characters all came together to create a spectacular novel, rich in atmosphere and suspense. I especially liked the twin aspect - that always spices a book up (especially for me, long time Wakefield twins fan). Though the plot was not terribly unpredictable, it was marvelously entertaining and I read it in one sitting! I will definitely be on the look out for any of Moerk's future books!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    No one is likable, not even the cat. Who cares what happens to them?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Moerk spins a deliciously dark, modern fairy tale about three sisters and a mysterious stranger who simultaneously entices and repels them. In a small Irish town, the Walsh sisters, Fiona, Aoife, and Róisín, rue the day that a séanachai (Irish storyteller) named Jim Quick rode in on his red motorcycle luring them with tales of wolves, murder, and true love. The rich, mythic words Jim recites in packed local pubs haunt each sister’s reality by having surprising parallels to their interactions wit Moerk spins a deliciously dark, modern fairy tale about three sisters and a mysterious stranger who simultaneously entices and repels them. In a small Irish town, the Walsh sisters, Fiona, Aoife, and Róisín, rue the day that a séanachai (Irish storyteller) named Jim Quick rode in on his red motorcycle luring them with tales of wolves, murder, and true love. The rich, mythic words Jim recites in packed local pubs haunt each sister’s reality by having surprising parallels to their interactions with him. Jealousy and rivalry are put aside as they seek to uncover Jim’s past when his dark proclivities gnaw at the initial glamour he had cast upon them. Layered with stories within stories, the end of the book is actually revealed in the first chapter. This is remarkably effective in propelling the reader through the pages since the path the story takes is more important than where the path ends. By showing the fate of the characters at the beginning, the reader becomes entranced by the story, yet is constantly reminded by the implacability of the ending. It sets up a complex and rewarding tension throughout the novel. The greatest strength in the book is the individual voice of each sister as she tells her story through a journal. The eldest, red-haired Fiona, understands and unconditionally loves her younger sisters. Aoife is exploratory and free-spirited. Róisín is a quirky, dark-haired pixie, who also happens to be an anti-social genius. The perspective of each sister enriches the story, adding new details and motivations to each event as it is remembered. Darling Jim is a fiercely provocative and heartfelt fable of desire, betrayal, and above all - love. Definitely will appeal to fans of The Thirteenth Tale, The Little Stranger, and The Meaning of Night.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Danish author Christian Moerk has done something that I, honestly, would have wagered against: created a brilliant modern gothic novel that combines the best of suspense and the ancient Irish art of the seanchai, or storyteller. With his semi-epistolary novel "Darling Jim," Moerk introduces us to Jim Quick, a charismatic storyteller, and three of the women whom he seduces (two sisters and their aunt). The sisters' two posthumous diaries are found by a local postman, and it is he who ultimately un Danish author Christian Moerk has done something that I, honestly, would have wagered against: created a brilliant modern gothic novel that combines the best of suspense and the ancient Irish art of the seanchai, or storyteller. With his semi-epistolary novel "Darling Jim," Moerk introduces us to Jim Quick, a charismatic storyteller, and three of the women whom he seduces (two sisters and their aunt). The sisters' two posthumous diaries are found by a local postman, and it is he who ultimately uncovers the complete truth of the situation. Moerk's prose is executed with such skill that readers will feel as though they are in the midst of each scene, whether a bucolic Irish country village scene or the horrors described in the sisters' journals. "Darling Jim" is not only one of the finest debut novels I have read, but also one of the best suspense tales. Highly recommended for those who enjoy a true page-turner. (Review based on uncorrected advance proof.)

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy Buttery

    I'd probably give this 5 stars if I didn't personally reserve that rating for books that move me on some deeper level. This was an absolutely riveting storyline, and it was very hard to put down. There are really three storylines interwoven--the story of a set of murders and how they came about, the story of the man who (sort of) solves them, and the folktale story told by Darling Jim, one of the main characters (can't say too much about him without revealing too much). SO we move between modern I'd probably give this 5 stars if I didn't personally reserve that rating for books that move me on some deeper level. This was an absolutely riveting storyline, and it was very hard to put down. There are really three storylines interwoven--the story of a set of murders and how they came about, the story of the man who (sort of) solves them, and the folktale story told by Darling Jim, one of the main characters (can't say too much about him without revealing too much). SO we move between modern but mundane small-town Ireland to 16th-century folktale with castles and princes, and back to modern Ireland from the foul-mouthed young and loose women who we come to know pretty well. And it's so well done that it doesn't really matter that we know who killed who fairly early on--it's about the why and how! Hoping to find other things by this author now.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    The most difficult thing I had with reading this book was my inability to suspend disbelief that the story was written by someone kept captive and chained in a bedroom and giving herself only three more days to live. The tone of the narrative just didn't jive with the circumstance of the character it was supposedly coming from, and I couldn't help rolling my eyes at the recollection of so many details (dialogs, descriptions)that to me would have been completely unnecessary in getting the point o The most difficult thing I had with reading this book was my inability to suspend disbelief that the story was written by someone kept captive and chained in a bedroom and giving herself only three more days to live. The tone of the narrative just didn't jive with the circumstance of the character it was supposedly coming from, and I couldn't help rolling my eyes at the recollection of so many details (dialogs, descriptions)that to me would have been completely unnecessary in getting the point of the situation across, again with regards the present circumstance as she was supposedly writing the story. In addition, I didn't really care for any of the characters and found the writing overall bland, the story overall boring. It was difficult to go along with the author's position that Jim was this master story teller as I could barely straggle through his tales.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ellie

    Read over too long a period to give a very accurate rating, didn't make me feel the NEED to keep reading

  21. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Fredrick

    Okay, this book was completely silly. It started off on a very promising note – two young women found dead in their aunt’s house, having apparently been kept captive (handcuffed, locked up, & chained) for an extended period, yet having managed to kill their aunt at the same time as they broke their bonds, and were killed themselves. Pure carnage – what’s not to like, right? But then it just got completely silly – the postal worker finding the diary of one of the dead sisters that got mailed (how, Okay, this book was completely silly. It started off on a very promising note – two young women found dead in their aunt’s house, having apparently been kept captive (handcuffed, locked up, & chained) for an extended period, yet having managed to kill their aunt at the same time as they broke their bonds, and were killed themselves. Pure carnage – what’s not to like, right? But then it just got completely silly – the postal worker finding the diary of one of the dead sisters that got mailed (how, exactly?) And then, her twin sister’s diary picked up just where hers left off, which the obsessed postal worker just happens to find in the possession of a sixth-grade girl who was a former student of the other sister. I’m unclear on how the diaries got in the post at all, and totally didn’t understand the cult-like following that sprang up around Jim, either (based on the fact that he travels from pub to pub and tells folk tales? To the point that years after his murder teenage girls still hang around his grave?) GAR!! And then, I totally missed the point of the whole twin brother thing. GAR!! I missed lots of other stuff as well, but don’t have the patience to list it all out. I like gothic-type suspense novels, and know that sometimes you have to be willing to stretch your credulity a little, but this was just too much for me. I listened to it on audio, which was alright (I doubt I would have finished otherwise). The Irish accent in the narration was nice although apart from that I didn’t see any effort to distinguish characters - the three sisters all sounded completely identical.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book bothered me in little ways. The overall story was great--I was compulsed to keep reading, wanting to see the reveal. But....(spoilers ahoy) the entire conceit of it required some serious suspension of disbelief. You have two women locked in a room, poisioned, half starved, bent on murder, borderline insane...and they are going to write to non overlapping accounts that hand off at just the right spot, write in a fairly flowerly manner (describing small details, long sentence structure) i This book bothered me in little ways. The overall story was great--I was compulsed to keep reading, wanting to see the reveal. But....(spoilers ahoy) the entire conceit of it required some serious suspension of disbelief. You have two women locked in a room, poisioned, half starved, bent on murder, borderline insane...and they are going to write to non overlapping accounts that hand off at just the right spot, write in a fairly flowerly manner (describing small details, long sentence structure) including a detailed account of the story teller's stories? REALLY? (And where did they get the books anyway? And the pens?) And Aoife's reason for being away? Completely predictable. The only bizarre thing is that it would necessarily last 3 years. The story itself, although ostensibly about "strong women", is really a male power fantasy. Oh really, a male writer telling a story about a male story teller whose stories compel women to do his bidding, to hard core fan girl, to NEED to sleep with him? *rolls eyes* And of course, the women can only live on through Niall, even though Aoife AND HER DAUGHTER are both alive. And naturally the one woman who can resist the story teller's charms is a lesbian...So many obvious, stereotypical, tropes...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    A Dublin postman makes the unfortunate discovery that someone on his route is deceased, but signs of a struggle and two other bodies discovered within the house indicate there is much more than meets the eye going on. His colleague is intrigued by story, and begins investigating the triple homicide of a maiden aunt and her two nieces. I thought the language was beautiful, but didn't like that we had to dig though so many layers to get to the story - we had the weird postman, then Niall, then the A Dublin postman makes the unfortunate discovery that someone on his route is deceased, but signs of a struggle and two other bodies discovered within the house indicate there is much more than meets the eye going on. His colleague is intrigued by story, and begins investigating the triple homicide of a maiden aunt and her two nieces. I thought the language was beautiful, but didn't like that we had to dig though so many layers to get to the story - we had the weird postman, then Niall, then the story delivered through the journals, and then within the journals, Jim's allegoric storytelling. For all those points of view, there weren't a lot of distinct voices, to me. Maybe for this reason, I found the pacing slow and the characters, uncompelling. Institutionalized racism gives the novel an old-timey tone, despite it's present day setting. The novel blends a strong sense of the gothic with fairytale elements, and when you add love for a bad boy, revenge, sex, and murder to the menu, it seems like all the right ingredients for an unputdownable book, and I really had to push to get through it. I did like how neatly the ending wrapped up, and thought that was cleverly done.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Part fairy tale, part murder mystery, part family drama, the majority oft "Jim" reads like an Irish "Looking for Mr. Goodbar": tough sisters, all smitten by an itinerant,charismatic "story teller",make some bad choices and then exact their revenge upon the vulpine charlatan, and in turn are out-smarted by someone even more devilish. I have a weakness for gutsy Irish heroines, who don't tolerate fecking eedjits and who prowl the territory between love and lust,sanity and risk,and these are some s Part fairy tale, part murder mystery, part family drama, the majority oft "Jim" reads like an Irish "Looking for Mr. Goodbar": tough sisters, all smitten by an itinerant,charismatic "story teller",make some bad choices and then exact their revenge upon the vulpine charlatan, and in turn are out-smarted by someone even more devilish. I have a weakness for gutsy Irish heroines, who don't tolerate fecking eedjits and who prowl the territory between love and lust,sanity and risk,and these are some seriously ballsy colleens.The majority of the book reads like a fever dream, the result of their diaries being found by a young wannabee graphic novelist who becomes obsessed with their fates and who follows the real life trail, with all of its bizarre twists and tantalizing missing pieces. The final denouement,unfortunately,tries too hard to wrap this twisted fairy tale up into a neat little package and comes across as mawkish and contrived. Still, these sisters will linger in my mind as white witches lost in a black forest of desire.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    A story within a story within a story...you'd think at least one of them would be bearable...A final message from the world written by a girl in her twenties locked in a closet and about to be murdered, yet she writes like a Meg Cabot heroine. And the mysterious roaming story-teller who holds all in his midst transfixed by his storytelling prowess, with a tale that sounds like a cross between Prince Valiant and Erin Hunter's Warrior's series. If you haven't noticed by now, I was not able to get A story within a story within a story...you'd think at least one of them would be bearable...A final message from the world written by a girl in her twenties locked in a closet and about to be murdered, yet she writes like a Meg Cabot heroine. And the mysterious roaming story-teller who holds all in his midst transfixed by his storytelling prowess, with a tale that sounds like a cross between Prince Valiant and Erin Hunter's Warrior's series. If you haven't noticed by now, I was not able to get into this book at all. The characters are obnoxious and flat, the mystery is utterly uncompelling, and the writing style grating. I only got about 100 pages in, but I doubt I missed much; by the second installment of Jim's story-telling, I realized my eyes were going over the words but my brain was refusing to process them--time to move on to another book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Hilary

    The audiobook aspect of this book was the best thing about it. The readers were both excellent, and probably the main reason I finished it. On the other hand, I'd like those 11 hours of my life back. Now. The novel is set in Ireland, and alternates between the perspectives of two of three sisters and the man who finds their diaries. It's not a spoiler to say that the story starts with grisly murders that really captured my attention. The rest of the book describes what led up to that violence. I wa The audiobook aspect of this book was the best thing about it. The readers were both excellent, and probably the main reason I finished it. On the other hand, I'd like those 11 hours of my life back. Now. The novel is set in Ireland, and alternates between the perspectives of two of three sisters and the man who finds their diaries. It's not a spoiler to say that the story starts with grisly murders that really captured my attention. The rest of the book describes what led up to that violence. I wanted this to be a fast-paced thriller. What I got was a slow, kind of dull, meditative novel with an emphasis on the significance of stories. While the language and style was actually quite good, I lost my sense of engagement with the story about a third of the way through. And I was not paid back for my efforts with a satisfactory ending. Disappointing. Not recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shelly Schulz

    I picked this up from the library after a friend recommended it to me. I'd really give this 3.5 stars, but I decided to round up. The story unfolds gradually, backwards. The reader is introduced to a postal worker, who finds a letter and a diary. From there the reader is introduced to three sisters, a wolf in story teller's clothing and an aunt who is also swept up in the fray. As a reader I felt for the sisters, and though they too did something horrible, it was justifiable. The horrible realiz I picked this up from the library after a friend recommended it to me. I'd really give this 3.5 stars, but I decided to round up. The story unfolds gradually, backwards. The reader is introduced to a postal worker, who finds a letter and a diary. From there the reader is introduced to three sisters, a wolf in story teller's clothing and an aunt who is also swept up in the fray. As a reader I felt for the sisters, and though they too did something horrible, it was justifiable. The horrible realization that the three share later on when they're reconnected with their aunt is undeniably disturbing. It's a good read, a bit challenging in it's disjointed narrative (there's three narratives overall) and the ending is a bit frustrating for me, because I want to know the third sister's story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    It's a story within a story within a story, and it's one of the best I've read in a while. When a woman is found to have been keeping her two nieces captive in her home, and all three die a violent death, all hell breaks loose in their small Irish town. Their story is told via two diaries kept by the two girls, a fired postman, and an ancient tale woven from Celtic legend. It's unlike anything I've ever read, and I highly, enthusiastically, recommend it. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook It's a story within a story within a story, and it's one of the best I've read in a while. When a woman is found to have been keeping her two nieces captive in her home, and all three die a violent death, all hell breaks loose in their small Irish town. Their story is told via two diaries kept by the two girls, a fired postman, and an ancient tale woven from Celtic legend. It's unlike anything I've ever read, and I highly, enthusiastically, recommend it. Lori Anderson Blog Shop Facebook

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wells

    I liked it, I didn't love it. The general story was good and I liked most of the characters (or at least how they were written). However, there were times when I got incredibly annoyed by seemingly useless information. The story within-a-story, for instance, it was just too much. They did bring it full circle in the end, but that part (with "Gatekeeper") really needed to be edited down-- it was just sort of weird. I don't know how to describe it more eloquently. Overall it was an enjoyable book. I liked it, I didn't love it. The general story was good and I liked most of the characters (or at least how they were written). However, there were times when I got incredibly annoyed by seemingly useless information. The story within-a-story, for instance, it was just too much. They did bring it full circle in the end, but that part (with "Gatekeeper") really needed to be edited down-- it was just sort of weird. I don't know how to describe it more eloquently. Overall it was an enjoyable book. I loved the honesty of the sisters and Niall's loyalty to them. I felt like all the loose ends were tied up in the end, which was satisfying.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    I would really give this 3 1/2 stars - I liked it, I felt compelled by it, and I think it was good...I just didn't LOVE it. I did really like some of the characters, however, and I liked the setting (Ireland) a lot. It felt very true to the character of Ireland (not that I've been there, but still) which I appreciated. It didn't feel a big stereotype like many other books about Ireland, though it still contained some of the same themes. And it definitely made me want to read other books by the a I would really give this 3 1/2 stars - I liked it, I felt compelled by it, and I think it was good...I just didn't LOVE it. I did really like some of the characters, however, and I liked the setting (Ireland) a lot. It felt very true to the character of Ireland (not that I've been there, but still) which I appreciated. It didn't feel a big stereotype like many other books about Ireland, though it still contained some of the same themes. And it definitely made me want to read other books by the author, which is always a good thing!

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