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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Halfway House!
I was in the throes of a book hangover, in need of a new book but unsure what would steer me away from a dreaded book slump. Scrolling through the options, I realised my best bet was a book I was sure would catch me off guard, because its author always does: Halfway House by Helen Fitzgerald.
I am such a fan of this author’s work. I love her writing style, she keeps it short and snappy, and while her books tend to be rather short, they always pack a punch, and it’s often quite a sucker punch at that, I never see it coming. The best thing about Helen Fitzgerald though, is her characterisation, I just love her characters. They are always more than meets the eye, they always catch you by surprise.
I’ve been talking in general terms here, but Halfway House was exactly what I expected from this author, it ticked all the above boxes and I had a ball with it! The story kicks off and you meet Lou, about to settle in at her cousin’s house in Edinburgh, looking for a fresh start. You may think you know Lou, she’s just a run-of-the-mill twenty-something, dime a dozen, but I’m telling you, you’re wrong! Every other chapter you find out something new about her, that makes you reconsider, again and again.
At least as character-driven as plot-driven, the story races on, never a dull moment. The scenes at the halfway house, and its characters, are in turn dramatic, scary and hilarious. I lost count of the times I mumbled oh no no no to myself, as well as the times I snorted with laughter.
I had a fantastic time with Halfway House. It’s a thriller, it’s a tragedy, it’s a dark comedy, it has tons of elements from different genres but they all blend together marvellously, and Fitzgerald’s dark and acerbic humour is a juicy blood-red cherry on top of this fabulous cake. Recommended, in particular to jaded readers who want to shake things up.
Halfway House is out on 18 January 2024. Pre-order it directly from Orenda Books here.
Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the digital proof. All opinions are my own.