Helen FitzGerald is the queen of the arresting opening sentence. Her last novel Viral opened with the line, “I sucked twelve cocks in Maguluf.” Her latest opens with, “Every time Mary tried to relax in the bath, a paedophile ruined it.”
Mary is a probation officer and bath time is the least of her worries. She’s an alcoholic whose work life is spiralling out of control. Moody and menopausal, she’s unable to sleep and has a complicated sex life. And to top it all, there’s Liam Macdowall - a man imprisoned for the murder of his wife, now on release under Mary’s supervision and an unlikely hero to the Men’s Rights Activists who are determined to cause as much disruption as possible. So begins a dangerous obsession which drives Mary to the brink, with devastating consequences.
It’s been said before that FitzGerald isn’t your typical crime writer. Her work is too genre-defying for that. I loved the black humour and personal retribution of Viral and my nerves were shredded by the anxiety-inducing, stark realism of The Cry. After reading her latest, I’m convinced that she’s some kind of genius.
Worst Case Scenario is dark, unsettling, shocking and brilliantly funny - often at the same time. What holds it all together is the central character, who’s often acerbic and sometimes infuriating but all too human and always entertaining. There’s definitely something about Mary.