Monday 22 January 2024

Halfway House by Helen Fitzgerald BLOG TOUR #HalfwayHouse @fitzhelen @OrendaBooks #MeetLou #BookReview


They’re the housemates from Hell…

When her disastrous Australian love affair ends, Lou O’Dowd heads to Edinburgh for a fresh start, moving in with her cousin, and preparing for the only job she can find … working at a halfway house for very high-risk offenders.

Two killers, a celebrity paedophile and a paranoid coke dealer – all out on parole and all sharing their outwardly elegant Edinburgh townhouse with rookie night-worker Lou…

And instead of finding some meaning and purpose to her life, she finds herself trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse where she stands to lose everything – including her life.

Slick, darkly funny and nerve-janglingly tense, Halfway House is both a breathtaking thriller and an unapologetic reminder never to corner a desperate woman…

Halfway House by Helen Fitzgerald was published in paperback on 18 January 2024 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour. 

I have been reading Helen Fitzgerald's books ever since I discovered her novel Viral in 2016. She is an incredibly clever author, she doesn't write to strict genre, she writes exactly how she feels. Each book is different, but each one of them are perfectly presented, filled to the brim with characters who are flawed, obnoxious, vulnerable and so real. 

If you've read Helen Fitzgerald before, you will have some idea what to expect from Halfway House, if you haven't, then please be prepared. Be prepared to laugh out loud, to squirm, to get angry, to empathise and also, most importantly, to be totally entertained. 

I mean, let's face it, any author who can come up with the line 'Alan was a gentle necrophile' is one to investigate, don't you think?

The enticing prologue of Halfway House features a snippet from an interview on Sixty Minutes with Lou, otherwise know as 'Hashtag ; The Impaler', among others.

We are then taken back two months earlier as we meet Lou during an online interview. She's applied for a job in Edinburgh as a carer in a house for serious offenders, a long way away from her home in Australia. Lou's life is in turmoil. She's been a kept women, in a fancy apartment, with a monthly allowance from her sugar daddy Alan,  but that all went wrong, and she's now using a reference from Alan's wife to try to secure a job that will take her far away.

Lou gets the job, and after an eventful flight from Australia, she arrives in Scotland. She's going to share a flat with her cousin Becks - a girl who annoys her really, but she tries to keep sweet. Becks is currently acting in a production of Plath - The Musical and Lou sits next to a handsome man in the audience. It's not too long before they discover they both like the same things in life; mainly risky outdoor sex and drugs. 

When Lou begins work, it's really not what she expected. There's little management, lots of danger and a totally unexpected surprise in one of the bedrooms. How on earth will she manage this?

Lou manages in her own unique Lou way. She's not a particularly likeable person, I don't even think she likes herself. She's selfish, totally self absorbed, a little obsessed with cleaning, and will use anyone to get what she wants. Despite this, she's a brilliantly created character and the reader can't help but have her back, even when she makes decisions that make you want to scream out loud. 

Helen Fitzgerald has worked in social work, in Scotland, for many years and her own experience shines through in her characters and settings. She's able to create men who have done the most heinous of crimes, who the reader can relate to. She doesn't underestimate them, she doesn't make light of what they've done, but we see more of them than just their convictions.

It's a startling story, full of surprises, clever twists and wild black humour. One moment you will laugh, the next you will hold your breath in anticipation. It's a story packed with despicable people who do awful things, but it is brilliantly executed, with style and insight.

Helen Fitzgerald is an outstanding author and I think Halfway House is her best novel to date. Highly recommended. 

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 adapted for a major BBC drama. 

Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. 

Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. 
She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

Follow Helen on Twitter @FitzHelen.

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