Jim is not the darling of the tale. In fact, he’s a murderer, and though he makes a substantial appearance, his is another story altogether. This is Niall’s story.

A postal worker in Ireland, Niall’s ordinary life is turned upside down when he comes across a the diary of Fiona Walsh, a local who was imprisoned with her two sisters, then killed by her aunt. From beyond the grave, Fiona tells of her desperate attempts to save a community from the hands of a womanizing murderer and traveling storyteller, Jim.

Niall is swept into a search for the second half of the story that lies in her sister Roisin’s diary. Risking his own reputation, the mailman scours his resources to solve the mystery of Jim’s death and the undetermined disappearance of Aoife, the third sister.

Making parallels within itself several times over and often too overwhelmed in its own story, Darling Jim accomplishes half of its projected goals. Christian Moerk has a style of writing that forces his readers to envision a world darker and more sinister than a Stephen King novel, particularly because the real monsters of this story lie in the fatal charm of the ordinary.

The multiple frame stories become a bit tedious, and at points it feels like plot and narrative struggle between story development and self-congratulatory prose. But in the end, the novel is, like Jim, intriguing and darling.

Grade: B-

Darling Jim: A Novel is currently available.