Helen Fitzgerald’s novel Bloody Women is told in three parts, and for anyone who has read any of her other books will already know that they should expect the unexpected and that the tale being told is a commentary on a world far wider than the characters that inhabit the small one inside its pages.
In a tiny prison cell sits a young woman who didn’t get married because she was arrested for murder on the morning of her wedding. Not just one murder, three. And these were murders with a particularly spiteful twist, each of the men were missing a vital appendage! The three men were exes of Catriona’s, men she met in the week before her wedding whilst coming to terms with the fact that her home would soon be Italy with Joe and not Scotland where she has been a TV celebratory on an interior design show. So now Catriona sits at the mercy of the prison guard she names ‘The Freak’ awaiting trial and hoping her fiancé Joe will come to visit.
We learn all about this crime through Catriona Marsden own view of events as well as one of those hastily written, sensation seeking biographies that spring up around certain true crimes. Catriona, her mother and her best friend Anna were all interviewed for the book but Cat can’t see any of her words amongst the pages.
This novel shows Helen Fitzgerald’s ability to write black comedy that doesn’t let up but nor does it become in any way predictable. At the time the book was published, 2009, British TV was just coming out of the surfeit of design shows like the one that Cat presented – her comments about the rooms she made-over and her ‘clients’ were absolutely spot-on. She also taps into the culture of the Scots and the Italians, throws a few mental illnesses into the mix and stirs it all up with a few dashes of heartbreak. In other words this isn’t a straightforward mystery, although that element is there too but more a look at life for someone who doesn’t fit into what’s expected.
As the book moves from part to part the change of time and circumstance allows the reader to fill in the gaps with the new knowledge revealed. This is a refreshing type of device, although it took me a couple of pages to find my bearings at each swap point, it served to up the feeling of unease which pervades throughout the book. What happens is there are more people to worry about, because although I didn’t ‘take’ to Cat, or any of the other characters if I’m honest, I did sympathise with her. It takes a stone-hearted soul that doesn’t feel something for a young woman who has lost her way, as so many of Helen Fitzgerald’s female characters have.
I really enjoy the writing style characterisation and pace and this has only confirmed to me that this is an author with a huge amount of talent!
This book has been on my kindle since February 2014 and is the fourth of this author’s books I’ve read. Bloody Women was published by Polygon in 2009.
Other Brilliant Books by Helen FitzGerald
When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.
82 year old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on?
A steamy video taken in Magaluf of young Sue Oliphant-Brotheridge while she was holidaying with her sister Leah, it’s upload to the internet causes Sue to hide away. This is a book about far more than a seedy holiday and the internet, a book that explores far more issues than the title would lead you to believe.