Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald #bookreview #blogtour @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @RandomTTours

On my blog today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for the new novel by Helen Fitzgerald, Keep Her Sweet. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

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Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move. 

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but a startling look at sister relationships and they bonds they share … or shatter.

MY THOUGHTS

If you enjoy a family drama, then Keep Her Sweet by Helen Fitzgerald should definitely be your next read. I’ve read Helen’s past two novels, and every time I’ve read something new by her, I’ve recognised her voice straight away, especially in the unique way she creates her characters. I think if you’d given me this book without telling me who it was by, I would have been able to guess that it was written by Helen from the first page.

In her latest psychological thriller, Helen Fitzgerald zooms in on one of the most dysfunctional families I’ve come across in crime fiction. We meet two sisters, Camille and Asha, and immediately we can see the tensions that there are between them. They’ve recently moved back in with their parents, Penny and Andeep, and right from the first few pages, I felt like I was a fly on the wall, listening in, waiting for something catastrophic to happen. It did feel as though the family were discovering more about each other for the first time, especially once a therapist gets involved.

All of Helen’s characters in this book are well rounded and I thought their individual personalities and backstories came through strongly on the page. They are people who you want to find out more about. Camille and Asha’s Dad, Andeep, is a disgraced comic, and his family are the ones who still have to put up with his jokes. The novel is also told from the point of view of their Mum, Penny, and Joy, The Therapist. I think I found the parts told from the therapist’s points of view the most intriguing. I thought it was interesting how Joy peered into the lives of Camille and Asha’s family. I immediately wanted to find out more about her right from the first line, “Unhappy families always cheered her up.” This had me hooked. What had happened to this family?

Asha and Camille’s relationship also kept me invested in the story. Helen Fitzgerald delves deep into their history, although we particularly see this from Camille’s point of view. I really like the scenes which were told through diary extracts as her voice came through really strongly. You can feel Camille’s emotions as she is describing events that have happened between her and Asha in the past. You can see clearly the rivalry that exists between them, especially from Camille’s view point. But you do also get a sense that Asha and Camille do care deeply about each other, particularly when Camille explores their past.

I really could not believe what I was reading as I reached the final closing chapters. It was such a dark and tense finale, and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about what happened at the end of this book for a long time. Helen Fitzgerald explores some tough themes in Keep Her Sweet that bring her characters to life in rich, vivid detail, and it makes for an absorbing and an utterly compelling read. Another excellent novel from Helen Fitzgerald.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 26th May 2022

Print length: 222 pages

Keep Her Sweet is available to buy:

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Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald #bookreview blog tour @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for the latest book by Helen Fitzgerald on my blog today, Ash Mountain. With thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part.

Ash Mountain by [Helen FitzGerald]

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Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

MY THOUGHTS

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald is unlike any other book I’ve read so far this year. This is a fast and furious read that will pull you into the setting and the secrets that are buried in the small town waiting to be unearthed.

Fran Collins has recently returned to her hometown, Ash Mountain, to care for her father, but the town is full of dark memories and a deep sense of injustice. Helen Fitzgerald’s description is vivid as the novel opens with darkening clouds and streaks of orange and red as a fire rages out of control. This scene did bring images back to my mind of the Australian wildfires at the start of the year. Helen then takes the plot back thirty years and in the days leading up to the fire, as we begin to see the true scale of what Fran and the residents the town have been through over the past decades. And Helen’s revelations lead up to a pivotal, heart-pounding moment as the book raced towards its conclusion.

As we begin to go back in time to see what happened in Fran’s childhood, I could feel the tension rising. There is an impending sense of doom as the timeline ticks down to the day of the fire.  Harrowing and dark secrets are unearthed, and even before the flames take hold, it seems as though there is a dark cloud hanging over Ash Mountain and the people who live there. You can feel that everything is about to come apart at the seams and that things may never be the same for the people of the town. This is what keeps the tension turning up a notch as the novel progresses.

Helen Fitzgerald paints a vivid portrayal of the small-town setting and the people who live there. You can see where the hub of the community is and how important it is to the locals. Her writing style pulls you into the story. Helen writes dark humour really well, and as I was reading, I did find myself smiling and sometimes laughing out loud. This is what makes her writing really unique, and it’s what I thought when I read her previous book, Worst Case Scenario, which is equally brilliant.

I flew through the final pages of the book as Helen takes us right back to the beginning again when the residents of the town are trying to protect themselves from the raging fire. As the event unfolded on the page, there were some parts to the finale which had me gripping tightly to my kindle as I waited to see what would happen.

Ash Mountain is a breath-taking book that will keep you hooked right until the last page. Helen Fitzgerald is such a unique voice in the crime fiction field, and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 14th March 2020

Print length: 210 pages

Ash Mountain is available to buy:

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Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald blog tour #bookreview @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks

I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for Helen Fitzgerald’s latest crime novel, Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario by [FitzGerald, Helen]

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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.

MY THOUGHTS

Helen Fitzgerald opens Worst Case Scenario with such a startling line that it threw me, for just a second. I remember a couple of years ago when everyone was talking about her opening line in Viral, which I still haven’t forgotten, after hearing several people mention it. I think this book is going to get the same type of reaction from readers. I must admit that I haven’t read one of Helen’s books before, and I have to say that I found her writing so fresh and entertaining. This is definitely one of the most original novels I’ve read this year.

There is a lot of dark humour in her latest book, which may not appeal to some readers; there are some moments which did leave me cringing a little. Helen tackles some dark subject matters, but this is also such an entertaining story, and her lead protagonist, Mary Shields really stood out.

As a probation officer its Mary Shields job to imagine the worst case scenario when the parole board are considering releasing a convict back into the outside world. She has to think of all the possibilities that could happen upon their release and if they are still a danger to society. You can see how this is a job that can bring many people down, and it must be quite tough, having to be the person who makes that decision. Mary deals with people who have committed horrific acts, many, who some people would argue, don’t deserve a second chance. Mary struck me as a damaged individual, you can see just how her job has had an effect on her, and she is just about ready to pack it all in. I could certainly see why she wanted to.

The pace never drops, and I found myself flying through the pages, never once was there a dull or a particularly slow moment. Some readers may struggle to like Mary as she can come across as quite sharp and grumpy, but I really engaged with her, and her character made this book so unique and original. Mary herself is struggling with the menopause, which adds another unique subject matter to this book as it’s a topic that I haven’t come across in crime fiction before.

With some laugh out loud funny moments and a thoroughly entertaining plot which held my attention all the way through, I would, of course, recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something that is a little different. Helen Fitzgerald is a real talent, I can’t wait to read more from her.

Publisher: Orenda Books

Publication date: 16th March 2019

Print length: 276 pages

If you would like to purchase Worst Case Scenario, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

Amazon UK  Kobo  Waterstones

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