I’m delighted to be taking part in the tour for Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald. I’ve heard such great things about this book that I knew I had to read it. Thank you to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for making that possible.
Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.
I have to confess that I haven’t read The Cry. But I did watch it avidly on TV. So from that, I know Helen Fitzgerald can write believable characters. I know she can write tense, taut and twisty scenes. I know she has perfect timing in surprising her readers. However, I didn’t know how incredibly funny she is.
Mary Shields is a woman on the edge. You get the impression that she’s always been a bit of a rule breaker and has had a volatile life. But menopause has tipped her over the cliff and she’s desperately hanging on by her fingertips. Roddie, Mary’s husband, is away in Australia. As we read through the book, we discover that they balance one another. So with Roddie away, there’s no one to counter balance Mary. And Mary desperately needs that. Lurching from one disaster to another until she comes face-to-face with her worst case scenario. From that point on, life spirals completely out of control.
It sounds tense and tragic but there is such a rich vein of dark humour running through this story. In Worst Case Scenario we meet probably the most marginalised people in society – offenders – but Helen Fitzgerald doesn’t shy away from the reality of their situations. At times it’s an uncomfortable read and it’s the humour that makes it palatable. Having recently seen Janey Godley on Have I Got News For You, I was imagining her as Mary. I don’t know if this has been optioned for TV but I would love to see Janey play Mary.
As I am *ahem* reaching a certain stage in my life, there’s so much here I can relate to. In fact I think Worst Case Scenario should be provided on the NHS as a guide for the menopause. That sense of losing control is all too real. And the anger – oh, the anger! However, you don’t have to be in this position to appreciate Helen Fitzgerald’s writing. Hilarious, uncompromising and painfully accurate, Worst Case Scenario is a wonderful taboo-buster. Thank you, Helen, for making invisible women visible again.
You can buy Worst Case Scenario here.
About the Author
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and nine other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011) and most recently The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She is one of thirteen children and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children.