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Jess Kidd was brought up in London as part of a large family from County Mayo. Her first novel, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2016 and she was the winner of the Costa Short Story Award in the same year. In 2017, Himself was shortlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and longlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. Her second novel, The Hoarder, was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Both books were BBC Radio 2 Book Club picks.
author photo © Travis McBride
Well, this is one seriously addictive and fabulous read. Now that I have finished I feel bereft, exhilarated, and have one humdinger of a book hangover. Set in London, it is 1863 and private detective Bridie Devine is on the case of a stolen child. The prologue hooked me as surely as a fish on a line, I gaped, wondered, and leaned in for more. Descriptions opened with vivid intensity in my mind, creating the most glorious views. There is something about Jess Kidd’s writing that speaks directly to my soul, she knows how to lull, tickle, burn. She created a stinging tension, on a number of occasions leaving me hanging while popping into the past. I have to say that Bridie Devine is one of the most fabulous characters I’ve come across. She has taken up a somewhat boisterous lodging in my mind and she’s more than welcome! Information swirled around, making my thoughts whirl, adding to the torrent that I knew was surely coming. And oh, that ending! Things in Jars is a Victorian detective story with a difference, it crosses genres and set light to my imagination. It has been added to my list of favourite books. Bridie Devine to my list of favourite detectives. Jess Kidd has been confirmed on my list of favourite authors. Things in Jars is LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and Liz Robinson Pick of the Month… Need I say more?
June 2017 Debut of the Month. Longlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017. Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The village characters are beautifully drawn. Our young protagonist has a gift; he can see (and converse with) the dead. This is neither ghost story nor detective novel although both elements are present, more it is a human story of an odd community of slightly over-the-top country people who might all have something to hide. Certainly finding out what happened to his young, teenage mother proves to be tricky with most folk seeming to conceal a secret. The dead are not sinister, they are just there, being themselves. I loved the pictures the author paints, the dog lying by its master’s feet, the man trying to hang up his hat. Lovely images in a lovely debut. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017.
Shortlisted for The Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017. One of our Books of the Year 2016. December 2016 Debut of the Month. Dublin-wise, orphaned young man goes in search of his birth mother. He has a photograph with a note on the back and the name of a village. This is very Irish and completely charming. The village characters are beautifully drawn. Our young protagonist has a gift; he can see (and converse with) the dead. This is neither ghost story nor detective novel although both elements are present, more it is a human story of an odd community of slightly over-the-top country people who might all have something to hide. Certainly finding out what happened to his young, teenage mother proves to be tricky with most folk seeming to conceal a secret. The dead are not sinister, they are just there, being themselves. I loved the pictures the author paints, the dog lying by its master’s feet, the man trying to hang up his hat. Lovely images in a lovely debut. Highly recommended. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
A BBC RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB CHOICE SHORTLISTED FOR THE KERRY GROUP IRISH NOVEL OF THE YEAR AWARD LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD Unintentional psychic Maud Drennan arrives to look after Cathal Flood, a belligerent man hiding in his filthy, cat-filled home. Her job is simple: clear the rubbish, take care of the patient. But the once-grand house has more to reveal than simply its rooms. There is a secret here, and whether she likes it or not, Maud may be the one to finally uncover what has previously been kept hidden . . . * In the US, this book is published under the title Mr Flood's Last Resort
A BBC Radio 2 Book Club Choice Shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards 2016 Shortlisted for the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award 2017 Longlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2017 1950. A teenage girl is brutally murdered in a forest. But, somehow, her baby survives. 1976. A mysterious and charming young man returns to the remote coastal village of Mulderrig, seeking answers about the mother who, it was said, had abandoned him on the steps of a Dublin orphanage. With the help of its oldest and most eccentric inhabitant, he will force the village to give up its ghosts. Nothing, not even the dead, can stay buried forever.
London, 1863. Bridie Devine, the finest female detective of her age, is taking on her toughest case yet. Reeling from her last job and with her reputation in tatters, a remarkable puzzle has come her way. Christabel Berwick has been kidnapped. But Christabel is no ordinary child. She is not supposed to exist. As Bridie fights to recover the stolen child she enters a world of fanatical anatomists, crooked surgeons and mercenary showmen. Anomalies are in fashion, curiosities are the thing, and fortunes are won and lost in the name of entertainment. The public love a spectacle and Christabel may well prove the most remarkable spectacle London has ever seen. Things in Jars is an enchanting Victorian detective novel that explores what it is to be human in inhumane times.
Maud Drennan - underpaid carer and unintentional psychic - is the latest in a long line of dogsbodies for the ancient, belligerent Cathal Flood. Yet despite her best efforts, Maud is drawn into the mysteries concealed in his filthy, once-grand home. She realises that something is changing: Cathal, and the junk-filled rooms, are opening up to her. With only her agoraphobic landlady and a troop of sarcastic ghostly saints to help, Maud must uncover what lies beneath Cathal's decades-old hostility, and the strange activities of the house itself. And if someone has hidden a secret there, how far will they go to ensure it remains buried? Note to readers: In the US, this book is published under the title Mr Flood's Last Resort
A highly unusual tale set in a highly unusual Irish village full of dark secretsLushly imagined, delightfully original, and very, very funny, it hurtles along from the very first page (M.L. Stedman, author of The Light Between Oceans).Having been abandoned on the steps of an orphanage as an infant, lovable car thief and Dublin charmer Mahony assumed all his life that his mother had simply given him up. But when he receives an anonymous note suggesting that foul play may have led to his mothers disappearance, he sees only one option: to return to the rural Irish village where he was born and find out what really happened twenty-six years ago. From the moment he sets foot in Mulderrig, Mahonys presence turns the village upside down. His uncannily familiar face and outsider ways cause a stir among the locals, who receive him with a mixture of excitement (the women), curiosity (the men), and suspicion (the pious). Determined to uncover the truth about what happened to his mother, Mahony solicits the help of brash anarchist and retired theater actress Mrs. Cauley. This improbable duo concocts an ingenious plan to get the town talking about the day Mahony's mother disappeared and are aided and abetted by a cast of eccentric characters, both living and dead. Himself is a simmering mixturea blend of the natural everyday and the supernatural, folklore and mystery, and a healthy dose of quintessentially Irish humor. The result is a darkly comic crime story in the tradition of a classic Irish trickster tale, complete with a twisting and turning plot, a small-town rife with secrets, and an infectious love of language and storytelling that is a hallmark of the finest Irish writers.