Published by Orenda Books
Available in ebook, paperback and audio (16 May 2019)
Source: ecopy provided for review by publisher
About the Book
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.
As a woman of a certain age who has been going through the menopause for over 5 years with symptoms that even HRT couldn’t defeat, I was extremely interested to read this, not least because of the rave reviews it has received from fellow bloggers and reviewers.
52 year old Mary Shields is a criminal justice social worker, working in Glasgow. She is tired, irrational, moody, suffering from menopause systems, and it takes one just one thing to push her over the edge and want to quit her job. Once she decides she is going to resign, she doesn’t care any more. A job that is pressurised and understaffed with overflowing caseloads and which owes her 41 hours flex time which she stands to lose because she can’t use the hours up.
I knew what social workers/probation officers did, to a degree, but before reading this book, I hadn’t realised just how intrusive they had to be in offenders lives after their release from prison in making sure that they are complying with the terms of their release and how many rules that offenders had to follow; to that extent I found it an enlightening read. They deal with the worst of society – murderers, paedophiles and it must take a special kind of person to be able to do that job. Mary has her own emotional troubles to deal with and yet she has to be responsible for looking after other peoples lives.
One of her last cases is Dr Liam Macdowall. Liam is released on licence after killing his wife, he writes a book about his experiences and becomes a bit of a celebrity. She is assigned as his social worker and it becomes personal between the two of them and not in a good way. At times I actually felt quite sorry for Liam in his dealings with Mary and I’m not sure that I was supposed to!
Mary wants to do good things and she means well. However there were times when her actions were so outrageous and ill advised that I feared her life was becoming a car crash and I spent much of the time, especially during the second half of the book, shaking my head in disbelief and muttering “why the hell are you doing this” when one bad decision followed another. Much of Mary’s antics and dialogue were humorous, however sometimes I felt there was danger of it turning into farce, particularly on occasions when she became a one woman vigilante. Mary didn’t suffer fools and whilst I admired and even envied her ‘don’t give a ‘f*ck’ attitude, mostly my feelings about her veered between sympathy, amusement and utter bewilderment. I have to say though, I had my hands in my mouth at that ending!
Mary Shields is definitely a force to be reckoned with. Worst Case Scenario is dark, shocking, thought provoking, outrageous but always entertaining.
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orenda books for the copy to review.
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.