Single-mother Fran returns to her sleepy hometown to care for her dying father when a devastating bush fire breaks out. A heartbreaking disaster-noir thriller from the bestselling author of The Cry.
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…
If you love a novel you can really get caught up in that will make you think about its characters long after you’ve finished reading it, then Ash Mountain is definitely a read that will captivate you and draw your thoghts back to Fran and her family long after you’ve closed the final page.
I’m always a sucker for any book that’s got the slightest connection to real life events and I was really drawn in by Fran’s story in particular after the horrendous photographs and reports from the forest fires that ravaged so many thousands of miles in Australia earlier this year. I love books that transport me in time and place and I read this on a rainy and chilly Scottish weekend – totally losing myself in Fran’s experiences being back in small town Ash Mountain and enjoying Helen Fitzgerald’s fantastic sense of atmosphere in this immersive and enjoyable read.
Ash Mountain’s depiction of a range of generations, from Fran’s own experiences, mingled with her dying father and her truculent teenage daughter made for a very more-ish reading experience. This generational mixture is exactly what many of are living through during the lockdown and it is equally interesting here to see what intergenerational perspectives emerge when people with very different life experiences live through the same set of traumatic and challenging events. The narrative form was very addictive – with its mixture of sharply observed moments and laugh out loud ascerbic humour and kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter’ until I’d finished.
The strong plotting and skilful characterisation combine to draw you into a story bursting with sharply observed moments, combined with a compelling crime angle too and the combination of domestic detail and darkness are used to strong effect. Helen Fitzgerald has a deft and snappy turn of phrase and recreates distinct speech patterns very skilfully in order to make these eclectic characters come to life in these pages. This is a really satisfying read; the pace never lets up as you plunge into the past and the dark long-held secrets begin to bubble to the surface once againand leach into the present day events with a sustained sense of menace.
I enjoyed the skilfully developed atmosphere in Ash Mountain and the addictive sense that you are only ever seeing part of the picture as we follow events to their tense and nail-biting conclusion. It’s hard to write about Ash Mountain with no spoilers, but I’ve tried really hard as this is a book that you really need to experience for yourself. I loved the rest of Helen’s books and was really looking forward to plunging into this one and I’m happy to report that I wasn’t disappointed.
If you want a darkly hilarious and wonderfully tense read that asks you to think for yourself and plunges you into the lives of a range of fully-formed characters that you’ll absolutely believe in then you’ll love this book and I know a few book-loving friends who are definitely going to be pinching it from me once they’ve read this review I’d like to thank Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, and as ever recommending the best readds that a blogger could hope for
Pick yourself up a copy here and lose yourself in an unforgettable mixture of absolute hilarity and on-the-edge-of-your-seat-tension – you’ll love it!
‘The plotting is intricate and beautifully handled, and the narrative pace is absolutely breakneck … a wonderful, energetic, hard-hitting and deeply funny novel’ The Big Issue
‘Shocking, gripping and laugh-out-loud hilarious’ Erin Kelly
‘The main character is one of the most extraordinary you’ll meet between the pages of a book’ Ian Rankin
‘A dark, comic masterpiece which manages to be both excruciatingly tense and laugh out loud funny at the same time’ Mark Edwards
‘Outrageous, extremely funny and ultimately devastating’ Ambrose Parry
‘Fabulously transgressive and completely unique’ Mark Billingham
‘The classic thriller gets a hell of a twist’ Heat
‘FitzGerald writes like a more focused Irvine Welsh or a less misogynist Philip Roth’ Daily Telegraph On The Shelf
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 is now a major drama for BBC1.
Her 2019 dark comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in both The Guardian and Daily Telegraph.
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.