Helen Fitzgerald is a UK writer who hasn’t (as far as I know) had any of her work formally published in the U.S. yet. So if you are in the States you’ll have to hit The Book Depository. She writes this wholly unique mix of chick-lit and noir/horror/dark-psychological crime novel that at first doesn’t seem like it would fit but is a heady mix when you read it. A women on the verge of getting married wants to meet with her four former boyfriends. They start turning up dead and she’s now the prime suspect. Is she crazy? Did she do it? Sounds conventional when reduced to a couple of lines? Well it isn’t.
In any given reading year you are blessed to read many good books, a few great ones and occasionally an original. An author or a book that is steadily creating their own genre; doing their own thing. Helen Fitzgerald is one of those originals, carving out her own territory, and that has to be respected.
When I read The Devil’s Staircase last year I was blown away by the combination of a prosaic coming of age story coupled with an Allan Guthrie-like pound of flesh (“like an Allan Guthrie novel with ovaries”).
I had Bloody Women sitting on my shelf for awhile now and I’m sorry it took me so long to get to it. The writing is even better, the story is even more demented and the characters are even more twisted. Everything in this very twisty tale is ramped up a few notches.
Reading a Helen Fitzgerald novel makes you realize how male-centric the crime novel often is at a DNA level, even when featuring a female protag, because the worldview of it is so fundamentally different. Quite frankly, it’s a breath of fresh air and is one of the reasons that it resonates so thoroughly.
Bloody Women by Helen Fitzgerald is quite possibly (probably?) the greatest psycho noir ever written. Yet it is so much more than that. The bottom line is that American readers of dark, brilliant crime fiction need to get hip to Fitzgerald now.