Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald #BookReview #BlogTour


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.

It is such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald today. Many thanks to the author, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the book.

The opening line...actually, the opening paragraph of Worst Case Scenario should immediately warn more sensitive readers that this the sort of novel which explores the parts that other books don't reach. Mary Shields is an experienced probation officer who has seen it all. She's also fifty-two, menopausal and has just about had it up to here. The hot flushes and mood swings will be familiar to any woman of a certain age (puts hand up) who will readily empathise with her rage when she is caught breaching her employer's ridiculous flexi-time rules. As she later observes, 'a hot flush is like an orgasm. If you're not sure you've had one, you haven't.' For those of us who have, Mary is a (very welcome) breath of fresh air; a lead character who is an entirely believable middle-aged woman who struggles with all the symptoms of the menopause, even boob sweat.
Her latest case is a sensitive one as Dr Liam Macdowell has become something of a celebrity while in prison for the murder of his wife. His letters to the dead woman are due to be published on the day of his release as 'Cuck: Letters to my Dead Wife' and as such he has attracted the attention of Men's Rights Activists and feminists. It's a volatile mix which will need careful handling but unfortunately Mary is all out of empathy and sensitivity. After forty years in the job, she wants out but what starts as being a wonderfully freeing decision rapidly escalates into a situation which goes from bad to much, much worse.
Mary is a wonderful character who will undoubtedly resonate with any woman who is or has been menopausal but really anybody who has ever almost bitten their tongue in two will be half cheering her on and half reading with their hands over their eyes as her actions lead her into increasing trouble. Most of us don't spend years dealing with rapists, child abusers and murderers but we've all come across those petty rules and frankly repugnant individuals who would test even the patience of a saint. Mary is very much not a saint, she is a flawed woman who drinks too much,frequently speaks before thinking, has sexual fantasies about her clients and makes some of the worst decisions in the history of decision making. And yet, she is so entirely relatable  - she loves her family fiercely and will do anything to protect them and it's clear that despite her protestations to the contrary, her own experiences mean she does care and is more vulnerable than her crass language and exhortations to report her would suggest - the unofficial food bank which she runs from the boot of her car is testament to that.
Mary may be the character around whom the action in the novel revolves - or rather spins out of control - but the supporting cast are vividly brought to life too, particularly the appalling Derek McLaverty and John Paul the Ned who is somehow still likeable despite being a complete mess. The life of a social worker is also explored with the sharp insight that can only come from somebody who really knows the job; the impossible demands on their time, the endless restructuring and the constant acronym-led report writing all feature here and are a damning indictment of a service in crisis.
Worst Case Scenario is a one-sitting read which delights in its acerbic, dark humour but is also an unsettling, moving and darkly perceptive look at often harrowing contemporary issues. Shocking, brilliantly funny and bravely provocative, Helen Fitzgerald's book is immersive and exceptional storytelling, I thoroughly recommend it.

Worst Case Scenario is published by Orenda Books it's out now as an ebook and will be available in paperback from 16th May 2019, purchasing links can be found here. Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.


About the Author

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.
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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for the blog tour support Karen x

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