The Bookvent Calendar 2019: Day 21

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#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2019

My twenty first bookvent selection is one that had me howling with laughter from the very first chapter. So much of what had been written I could identify with and one of the first things I did was to text Mandie as I knew she would too. Although the subject matter was no laughing matter, the author had taken a very dark subject matter and made it accessible by infusing the kind of black humour that makes these kinds of things bearable. Using her own experience and a razor sharp wit, she created a book that will stay with me for a very long time and is first in my recommendations for books to read, especially amongst my flexi-weary colleagues. My day twenty-one bookvent choice is:

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Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

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.

Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Google Play | iBooks
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This is the first book I have read by Helen Fitzgerald but I know it will not be that last. It really is a challenge to talk about this book without giving too much away but in basic terms this is about Probation Officer Mary Shields, who deals with the most heinous of parolees – the sex offender. Her clients are of the most objectionable kind, their propensity to re-offend off the charts, but her latest client is one of great notoriety and fame and whilst he professes his innocence, Mary is certain he is like everyone else and will simply reoffend. The opening chapter to this book had me in stitches, recognising in Mary so many of my own colleagues who sail close to the wind in terms of managing their flexi time. Mandie is one of the worst to be fair so I knew she’d love it. The ways in which mary handles the stress of her job are so overwhelmingly inappropriate that you both laugh and cringe, and the mess she gets herself into in order to simply prove a point … This is a book which is just a series of calamities – a disaster that unfurls in front of your very eyes. I found myself willing Mary on, even though I can;t honestly say I approved of her methods at times. With a brief cameo by someone very well known in the crime writing community, this book has it all. Tension, mystery (sort of), plenty of dark humour and the kind of mad plotline that comes from a very clever but slightly devious mind. It may take a strong stomach to read it at times (some of the comments and actions of Mary’s clientele will leave you reeling) but if you look beyond the attitude and behaviour (never gratuitous) it is a stonkingly good read. I loved it.

If you’d like to read my full review of Worst Case Scenario, you will find it right here.

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Happy #bookvent reading all

Jen