I’ve read a couple of Helen Fitzgerald’s previous books and it’s fair to say she’s not an author who holds back on the shock factor. However, with Worst Case Scenario she’s gone a step further with her protagonist, Mary Shields.

Mary is a probation officer with thirty years’ experience. She’s also going through the menopause and she feels rage deep within her soul. It doesn’t help that she is dealing with the lowest of the low, while all her bosses seem to care about is flexitime, ticking the boxes etc. It takes a special person to do the job and Mary is certainly that. But she’s also close to breaking point.

It’s one of her clients who pushes her over the edge and leads to the craziness that takes place in this book. It’s like watching a car crash, knowing that Mary is going to snap, that she’s wrong but also right.

I did love Mary. She absolutely says it as it is, no holds barred. Brave but foolish, I guess. I did a lot of nervous smiling and giggling whilst I was reading this book.

The writing is witty and acerbic, crude and direct and I did enjoy it. It’s a fast-paced read as Mary lurches from nightmare to disaster and it certainly kept me interested. I wasn’t overly keen on the ending and couldn’t quite believe that that was how it was going to be wound up. Having thought about it a bit since, I can see that it does work and makes what happened all the more shocking, but I would still have preferred a bit more of a conclusion.

All in all, Worst Case Scenario is quite a ride. Fitzgerald has a quite unique writing style and I felt like punching the air when Mary gave people what for without feeling guilty about it. Isn’t that a problem most of us have with stating our views? We don’t have the confidence to not feel bad about the fact that we have an opinion? Well, no such problem with Mary. This book is great fun.

Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes, 4/4

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald
Orenda Books 9781912374694 pbk May 2019