First Monday Crime Festival Round-up for September @1stMondayCrime @W4BookFest @NOIRwichFest @BloodyScotland @MorecambeVice @CapitalCrime1 #crimewritingfestivals

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It seems a long time ago that we all met up for our First Monday Crime Summer Spectacular – two months to be precise! And we won’t be seeing you again until Monday 7th October! Don’t despair though. There are some fantastic literary festivals on in September to keep you going until your monthly dose of First Monday Crime is back. There’s bound to be more things happening but I’d like to highlight five festivals.

First up – Chiswick Book Festival. I’ve been to this festival a few times now and it was the  first one I ever attended. So it’s quite special to me. It’s a bit smaller than other festivals but it puts on a lot and has a wide variety of authors from historical to cookery to crime. Plus they’ve introduced workshops for budding writers too. Rather than giving you a long list of authors, I’ll just give you a few familiar First Monday names – Phoebe Morgan, Peter Hanington, Mark Billingham with Linwood Barclay, Amer Anwar, Angela Clarke and Deborah O’Connor. The Chiswick Book Festival runs 12-16th September.

On at the same time (12-15th) is Noirwich. So if East Anglia is closer to you than London then this may be for you. FM authors you can expect to see are Erin Kelly, Leye Adenle, Sarah Hilary, Vaseem Khan, Simone Buchholz, Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Mick Herron and Claire McGowan.

Now we mover further north to Stirling and Bloody Scotland. I’ve heard so many great things about this festival and I hope to go one day. Apart from the fantastic panels there’s the torchlight parade and a bit of sport with the annual England vs Scotland football match. Authors to look out for include Ruth Ware, Lucy Foley, Chris Brookmyre, our ‘hostess with the mostess’ Marnie Riches, Mary Paulson Ellis, Johanna Gustawsson and Doug Johnstone. Bloody Scotland is 20th-22nd September.

Coming back down but staying north of Watford, we have Morecambe and Vice. If there was ever a competition for the best named Crime writing festival, surely Morecambe and Vice would have to win. This festival has only been going for a couple of years and will be on 28-29th September. Not sure if there’ll be any comedy routines but William Shaw, Gytha Lodge, Quentin Bates, Lin Anderson, Adam Croft and Robert Daws will all be there to entertain you.

Last but absolutely not least, the inaugural Capital Crime. As the name suggests, we’re back in London for this festival. Created by Adam Handy and David Headley, there is an impressive amount of authors to see on 26-28th September. Here are some of the authors who’ve been with us at First Monday – John Connolly, Ann Cleeves, Mark Billingham, Mark Edwards, Peter James, Antonia Hodgson, Stuart Turton, Fiona Barton, Sarah Pinborough, Sophie Hannah, Fiona Cummins, Will Dean… it goes on forever! And then there’s also Robert Harris, Kate Atkinson, Don Winslow, David Baldacci, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin, Martina Cole…  As you can imagine, with all these authors, there are two tracks of panels to choose from.

Click on the names of the festivals to find out more details and to book.

So plenty there to keep you occupied until we’re back in October. We’re busy planning the new season for you and will let you know who’s coming soon. Enjoy the rest of the summer and happy reading!


Blog Tour – #TheChain by Adrian McKinty @adrianmckinty @Tr4cyF3nt0n @orionbooks #dontbreakthechain

Blog tour graphic - The Chain

Looking for a gripping holiday read? Then look no further. The Chain is the ‘must-have’ book of 2019. Thank you to Tracy Fenton and Orion for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. Before I give my review, here’s the blurb.


The Blurb







The Chain by [McKinty, Adrian]

My Review

Well, where to begin? I’ve heard lots of people have read this book in a day but I couldn’t do that. My nerves wouldn’t let me! The tension is there from the very beginning and doesn’t let up until the last page. This really tapped into my fears as a mother and I had to keep reminding myself this book is fiction and not true crime.

Rachel, the main character and mother of Kylie, is beautifully written. As a divorced mum, recovering from breast cancer, she’s hugely believable. Her vulnerability is evident. I’d call her a ‘lioness’ mother. She appears calm until you hurt her baby. Then she comes out fighting. Definitely something I recognise in myself.

But this isn’t a book that only parents can relate to. Adrian McKinty cleverly brings Kylie’s Uncle Pete into the story. There aren’t many people who don’t have a nephew or a niece or a cousin or maybe a godchild. Or a neighbour’s child who you absolutely adore. The Chain puts a moral dilemma in front of us all and asks us to choose – your child’s life or keep the Chain moving.

By using multiple viewpoints, McKinty keeps us, the readers, on our toes. Sometimes we’re allowed to know things in advance. Other times we’re on the back foot. But never bored. Each chapter moves us along The Chain, getting closer to the true perpetrators.

With the atmospheric setting of Plum Island in the fog, this is a book crying out to be on a screen. Personally, my preference would be a TV series rather than a film. The plot would need to be slimmed down to fit into a couple of hours for a movie. I don’t think that should happen. This is a story that deserves to be told in its entirety*. And it’s such a fabulous story. I already have my book of the year for 2019 but The Chain has jumped into my top five if not top three. Believe the hype and read it.

* Since writing this review, Adrian McKinty has accepted a deal from Paramount to make a movie. I’d still prefer a TV series but I’m really happy for Adrian McKinty. He absolutely deserves this.

You can buy The Chain here.


About the Author

Adrian McKinty credit Leah Garrett


Adrian McKinty was born and grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland, during the troubles of the 1970s and 1980s. His father was a boilermaker and ship’s engineer and his mother a secretary. Adrian went to Oxford University on a full scholarship to study philosophy before emigrating to the United States to become a high school English teacher. His debut crime novel Dead I May Well Be was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger Award and was optioned by Universal Pictures. His books have won the Edgar Award, the Ned Kelly Award, the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and have been translated into over 20 languages. Adrian is a reviewer and critic for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Irish Times and the Guardian. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.



Book Review – Black Summer by @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK #BlackSummer

I was a little bit behind the times when I read The Puppet Show earlier this year. Thankfully, thanks to NetGalley, I’m more on the ball this time round. Before my review, here’s the blurb.


The Blurb

After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

Kindle Edition

My Review

The Puppet Show left me reeling. It was brilliant but brutal. The Immolation Man was a savage killer and an unknown quantity. This time round, Detective Sergeant Washington Poe knows who’s responsible. At least he thought so until evidence proves otherwise. How can a supposedly dead woman come back to life six years later?

There’s a lot less gore in this novel but the plot does not suffer in any way. In fact, I found Black Summer even more compelling. It’s a proper mystery that appears insolvable. Even Tilly Bradshaw, Poe’s analyst colleague, is scratching her head over this one. There are plenty of curve balls in this story and I genuinely could not work it out. I love I was kept guessing to the very end.

Although this could be read as a standalone, I think it helped that I had read The Puppet Show earlier this year. It meant I was comfortable with Poe and Bradshaw as characters. Tilly’s quirkiness is totally endearing and I love how she and Poe bring out the best in each other. They make for a mischievous pairing and DI Stephanie Flynn’s exasperation with them both is evident.

Although the Cumbrian countryside is a main feature again, Storm Wendy makes an appearance too. The weather is ominously hot for a Cumbrian summer and the storm is brewing. Mike Craven times it well. The storm hits as the s**t hits the fan for Poe, elevating the tension to fever pitch.

The other thing that really intrigues me about this book is the title. Does Black Summer refer to the sky during the storm or the content of the story? No. It’s a truffle. And absolutely key to everything. And that’s the only clue I’m going to give you. You’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out the rest.

Roll on book 3 – The Curator – next summer!

You can buy Black Summer by clicking here.


About the Author

An image posted by the author.

M.W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance abuse. Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals…

The Puppet Show, the first in a two-book deal he signed with the Little, Brown imprint, Constable in 2017, was released to critical acclaim in hardback in 2018. It has been sold in numerous foreign territories and the production company Studio Lambert, creators of the award-winning Three Girls, have optioned it for TV. The sequel, Black Summer, follows in June 2019.

M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.


Blog tour – The Missing Wife @sam_carrington1 @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K #TheMissingWife


Nearly three years ago I read Sam Carrington’s debut Saving Sophie. I can’t believe that The Missing Wife is her fourth novel! That’s pretty impressive. I’d like to thank Sabah Khan at Avon for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. And Sam is so popular, she’s got lots of bloggers on her tour ready to shout out about The Missing Wife.



The Blurb

You think you know those closest to you. You are wrong…
A sleep-deprived new mother approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing Louisa wants to do is celebrate.

But when her friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Louisa’s Facebook friends, Louisa is faced with a room full of people she hasn’t spoken to in years – including someone she never expected to see again: her ex-boyfriend, Oliver Dunmore.

When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers the night differently. Someone knows what happened to Melissa, and Louisa is determined to find them. But the truth could be closer, and the deception more devastating, than she’d ever imagined…

Kindle Edition

My Review

There’s so much I can relate to with Louisa. I had my third child in my late 30s and the sleep deprivation was unbelievable. I too had to write down feed times to keep an eye on them although my son was quite effective at letting me know when he was hungry! I can drive but I was afraid of doing so because I didn’t feel safe – I was that tired. So I also walked when I had to but mostly I stayed home with a screaming, puking baby. It was hell. So I connected with Louisa pretty quickly.

By setting The Missing Wife in a small village in Devon, the sense of being isolated and trapped is intensified. Apart from her husband and teenage daughter, Louisa only has one real friend – Tiff. But Tiff puts that friendship in jeopardy when she throws a surprise 40th birthday party for Louisa and includes an ex-boyfriend on the invite list. Has any good come from inviting exes to parties or any other events?

Right from the start it’s clear that something’s not quite right about Oliver. Louisa has enough problems with her mind playing tricks on her with the sleep deprivation. But Oliver’s reappearance has triggered old, buried memories. Sam Carrington skilfully takes us through Louisa’s growing paranoia until Louisa can’t trust anyone – not even herself.

One thing I did miss with this book is the police. Sam Carrington has a couple of wonderful detectives called DI Lindsey Wade and DS Mack who have appeared in her previous novels. Although they feature very briefly, I would have loved to have seen their take on the case of ‘the missing wife’. By keeping it to one point of view, the book is gloriously claustrophobic but I missed Lindsey’s very down-to-earth and direct approach.

Ultimately, I think this book is about trust. Not just who you can trust but whether you can trust yourself. Our memories of past events are often our own interpretation of what’s happened rather than a real factual account. So with more secrets and devious behaviour than a Cabinet Minister, can anyone be relied upon in The Missing Wife? You’ll have to read it to find out. A first rate psychological thriller.


You can find out more about Sam Carrington and buy her books here.


About the Author

Sam Carrington

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband, two border terriers and a cat. She has three adult children and a new grandson! She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Saving Sophie, her debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting The Bookseller Heatseeker chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016. Her second psychological thriller, Bad Sister, published in 2017 followed by One Little Lie in July 2018. The Missing Wife publishes in June 2019 with her fifth due on 12th December.


Murder Most Indian with Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan at West Barnes Library @VaseemKhanUK @alexkhanauthor @MertonLibraries

Murder Most Indian Poster

With a threatened heatwave this week, it seemed most appropriate to have books set in a hot country – far hotter than ours! Vaseem Khan and Alex Khan came to West Barnes Library to tell us about their India-set novels – Murder at the Grand Raj Palace and Bollywood Wives.

My first question was for them to tell us about their books. To help them (or maybe hinder) I gave them some props to help describe their stories. Alex had a toy Mercedes car, a picture of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy along with a copy of Pride and Prejudice and a red rose. At the beginning of Bollywood Wives, the main character,  Zara Das, has just stepped out of a white Mercedes to attend the premiere of her latest Bollywood movie. Minutes later, her car explodes. Someone is trying to kill her. To keep her safe, she and the cast of her new film based on Pride and Prejudice are moved to London. Despite staying in a 7 star hotel with personal security, someone manages to leave a red rose full of blood on Zara’s bed.


Vaseem had a picture of an Indian painting, a little elephant and some ornate bangles which represented wedding jewellery. Inspector Chopra is called to discreetly investigate the suspicious death of an American billionaire at the Grand Raj Palace hotel. Not long before his death, the American had bought India’s most expensive painting. Chopra does his best to be discreet but it’s a little hard with a baby elephant in tow! Meanwhile, Chopra’s wife, Poppy, is a bit cross with her husband who’s showing no interest in celebrating their wedding anniversary. She manages to get a suite at the hotel to be nearer to him and ends up involved in a missing bride case. Can she find the bride before the wedding?

There’s a lot going on at the Grand Raj Palace because a film is also being made. It’s not a Bollywood movie though but Tollywood. Vaseem and Alex enlightened us on the Indian film industry. Tollywood is based in South Indian and the language is Tamil. Bollywood is based in Mumbai and because of the Indian diaspora, it’s Bollywood that’s known more around the world. In the past, the films didn’t really have a genre. They were a mixture of thriller, romance, comedy and a very long death scene usually followed by a big song and dance routine.


As well as the Indian film industry, the other link between the two books is hotels. Both have top star hotels with no CCTV in the corridors of the most expensive suites. Was this a writer’s dream? It certainly made it easier for both writers for events to occur. It was hard to know who had been able to access the American billionaire’s suite to kill him in Murder at the Grand Raj Palace or who had left the rose in Zara’s room in Bollywood Wives. Vaseem knows first hand about upmarket hotels in India because he was a hotel management consultant for ten years in Mumbai.

Another question I had was about genre and being labelled in a particular sub-genre. Was it helpful or not? Although Bollywood Wives has a fantastic thriller at the heart of the plot, it is (as its title suggests) quite erotic and has been put in that category on Amazon. Alex doesn’t mind too much but it has prevented him from advertising it on Facebook in any way. Vaseem gets very hot under the collar about the term ‘Cosy Crime’, a label often given to Crime books that feature animals. Having spent 10 years in Mumbai, Vaseem is keen to include the reality of India. In his debut, The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, Vaseem takes his readers into the Mumbai slums where 6 or 7 people live in one room with no sanitary conditions and there’s 1 doctor for 10k people. In his latest book, there is a very tragic event based on a real-life event in India. I found it incredibly moving when I read it. Definitely not cosy.


I had lots more questions but it’s not easy to remember the answers as I couldn’t take notes. But since this was our last event before the summer break, I asked Vaseem and Alex for their recommended summer reads. Alex has just finished reading The Pool House by Tasmina Perry – a sexy, dark thriller. Vaseem has been a judge for the Betty Trask Awards this year and his recommendation is The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh, described by Margaret Atwood as ‘a dark, sinister fable’. I chose The Chain by Adrian McKinty and my review will be out on 17th July for the blog tour but it’s one of the most gripping stories I’ve read this year.

I’d like to thank Vaseem and Alex for trekking across London to our little library and to the Friends of West Barnes Library who hosted the event. And thanks to my daughter who takes all the photos. To find out more about the authors and buy their books, just click on their names.

Vaseem Khan

Alex Khan or Alex Caan


We’re having a break now until Tuesday 1st October when we’ll be back with ‘Death on the Beach’ with Mark Hill and William Shaw.


June First Monday Crime with @1stMondayCrime @TimWeaverBooks @TheAngelaClarke @doug_johnstone @HaningtonPhan @JakeKerridge @Marnie_Riches @HowardLinskey @ElodieITV @ameranwar @crimethrillgirl @TheTomWood

It was a very muggy evening last night in old London Town. We might not have had a State Banquet to attend but we had a feast of books instead. Aside from our wonderful panel of Doug Johnstone, Angela Clarke, Tim Weaver and Peter Hanington, we also had Summer Blind Book Date, hosted by Marnie Riches with Elodie Harper, Howard Linskey, Steph Broadribb, Amer Anwar and Tom Wood! Just a few authors! Let’s start with the panel, moderated by Jake Kerridge.

Jake asked the authors to tell us about their books.

Tim Weaver’s new novel, No One Home, is the 10th book in the David Raker series. Raker is a private detective and is called in to investigate the disappearance of the inhabitants of a small (fictional) Yorkshire village. Tim realised he couldn’t have too many people going missing because of creating all their back stories. He originally had 15 but dropped it down to 9. As he’s written so many books now, he’s always having to think about how to make the story different from last time. He’s not a planner and prefers to have the story evolve as he writes. There’s a parallel plotline in the book set in the US in 1985. Tim was influenced by the Night Stalker (an American serial killer) for this aspect of the story.

Angela Clarke is the author of the Social Media trilogy (Follow Me, Watch Me and Trust Me). Her latest novel, On My Life, is a standalone. Jenna appears to have the perfect life with a wonderful fiancé and fabulous home but her life is shattered when her step-daughter is murdered and her partner is missing. The police believe Jenna’s responsible. She’s charged and found guilty. At her prison medical, she discovers she’s pregnant. Angela first visited a women’s prison with Helen Cadbury. She saw a woman with a young child but had no idea that some women could keep their babies with them. There are approximately 1k pregnant women in jail but only 64 mother and baby places. The women have to appear before a panel without any help or representation to ask to keep their babies. If they’re turned down, the babies are removed soon after birth and either go to a family member or to Social Services. If a woman is allowed to keep her baby, she only does so until the child is 18 months and then they’re separated. If a woman is released before the 18 months, then there’s no care package or clothes given for the baby. It’s a desperate situation and Angela was keen to highlight this in the book.

Jake introduced Doug Johnstone as ‘an overachiever’ since he has a PhD in Nuclear Physics. Doug is also the drummer for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers and will be playing Glastonbury! He also has a new book out called Breakers. It’s nothing to do with surfing but burglary or house-breaking. The story is set in one of the most deprived areas in Edinburgh and the main protagonist is Tyler, a 17 year old lad. He has a pretty dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mother and a drug-addict father, leaving him to care for his younger sister. As he’s quite small, he’s used by his older siblings to break into properties where a small window has been left open or is easy to open. He breaks into a large house in Morningside, which unfortunately for Tyler, belongs to a big criminal family. The inspiration for the story comes from when Doug’s house was burgled and he wondered how small someone would have to be to get in through a skylight. With Breakers, Doug has tried to merge Noir with domestic dramas. Like Angela, Doug has also done some work in prisons and young offenders institutions. He certainly hadn’t planned on writing a story that would brow-beat readers but he wanted to show how a funding collapse for support groups was affecting teenagers.

Peter Hanington’s second novel, A Single Source, is also based on real, desperate events. Set in Egypt, Eritrea and London in 2011, it looks at the Arab Spring and the refugee crisis. As a journalist, Peter would see (and still does) a whole stream of news stories. Depending on what the main stories are of the day, a lot of smaller items go unnoticed. The band width for news is small. And it’s those stories that Peter wanted to focus on. His main character, William Carver, is an old-fashioned journalist. Despite his flaws, he has a nose for a good story. Many of Peter’s colleagues like to think they’re the inspiration for Carver but the real role model is a journalist called Terry Messenger, who used to go out and look for stories if none were coming in. Although A Single Source is set in 2011, the issues raised are still very relevant, especially refugees. Peter thinks it’s the biggest challenge to our humanity and he’s tried to write it as sympathetically as he can.

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As all the authors have been journalists, in one form or another, Jake asked how much has being a journalist helped with writing fiction?

Doug thought it had prepared him well for writing fiction. It’s good for deadlines and there’s no writer’s block as otherwise you get sacked! It’s also good for editing and that has helped him write books that are ‘stripped to the bone’.

Tim on the other hand, writes very long books that have to be edited down! But as a journalist he has formed good habits of sitting down, 9-5, and getting on with the writing and hitting his word count each day.

Angela wrote columns, not in-house, so she worked at home. She learnt that she could ‘make shit up’ and have an opinion on anything. Exactly what you need for fiction.

Peter agreed that the discipline of writing to a deadline is helpful. He also likes it when he sees his name as a by-line and having your own book is the ultimate by-line.


There were a few more questions from Jake and the audience but I’m going to leave it there for the panel as I also need to tell you about Summer Blind Book Date!

Marnie Riches was our hostess with the ‘mostess’ and she gave us a ‘lorra lorra’ laughs. Our contestants were:

Howard Linskey – Ungentlemanly Warfare

Elodie Harper – The Death Knock

Amer Anwar – Brothers in Blood

Steph Broadribb – Deep Dirty Truth

Tom Wood – Kill For Me

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They had to convince Marnie to take their book on holiday as her summer read. Now I have to confess that I didn’t write notes for this as I wanted to sit back and enjoy our authors squirming a little as Marnie gave them tasks to do. So this is from memory (and might be slightly wrong)!

First up, they either had to give us a bad poem/limerick or mime of their book. I have to say that for me, Elodie Harper won this round as she gave us a superb limerick. Steph did an impressive mime. Tom clearly didn’t get the memo and told us about his book in ‘free verse’ i.e. prose.

Second task was to tell us an anecdote about their novels. I was impressed most by Amer Anwar who told us a little research story. He asked to see round a butcher’s shop and in particular, the back of the shop. (I know exactly what scene this relates to!) Whilst in the back, Amer spotted a bone saw and wondered if it could be used to cut up a body. He made the mistake of asking the shop workers this and was then ushered out quite quickly. Howard Linskey’s new novel is set during WW2 and he took inspiration from some people who were buying an old farmhouse in Scotland and discovered a huge wartime bunker under the house.

The last task for our authors was to think of a suitable summer drink or snack that summed up their books. Howard went for champagne as there’s some romance in his story. Elodie went for Sex on the Beach. There isn’t necessarily any sex in the book but sex always sells. Amer thought a cold beer would go well with the curries from his story. Steph went for an old-fashioned cocktail – the fiery smoothness of bourbon, the zesty tang of orange juice and the sweetness of a cherry on the side. Tom opted for a Margherita for his Guatemala based novel.

Well, Marnie was won over by Amer’s cold beer and Steph’s impressive mime so she chose them both to be her summer holiday reads. Personally, my vote went to Elodie Harper for her superb limerick!

But the best thing for us readers, is that we’re the real winners! We’ve got lots of books to choose from for our summer holidays!

So that’s it from First Monday Crime for a few months. We’re taking an extended summer break and will be back on Monday 7th October! We hope you have a wonderful summer full of rest, books, good weather, books, lots of fun and even more books!

If you want to find out more about our authors and buy any of their books then just click on the author’s name.

Tim Weaver

Angela Clarke

Doug Johnstone

Peter Hanington

Marnie Riches

Howard Linskey

Elodie Harper

Amer Anwar

Steph Broadribb

Tom Wood

Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater #WorstCaseScenario #SomethingAboutMary

worst case blog poster 2019 (1)

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.


The Blurb

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.

Worst Case Scenario Cover

My Review

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 Author Pic [10595]

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.