My enormous thanks to Sara Darcy at Penguin Random House for an advanced reader copy of Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent in return for an honest review. Lying in Wait will be published by Penguin Ireland, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on 14th July 2016 and is available for purchase from Amazon, W H Smith, Waterstones and from all good bookshops.
Lying in Wait
‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
The last people who expect to be meeting with a drug-addicted prostitute are a respected judge and his reclusive wife. And they certainly don’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden.
Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this unfortunate situation.
While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son Laurence and their social standing, her husband begins to falls apart.
But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks. And his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.
My Review of Lying in Wait
From the moment Andrew Fitzsimons’ hands grasp Annie Doyle’s throat the lives of many people are going to change irrevocably.
Just a month after I began blogging, Liz Nugent’s debut novel Unravelling Oliver was one of the first books I reviewed (here) and since then I’ve been desperate to read more from her. It has been worth the wait.
Even before opening the book, Lying in Wait had me intrigued. The jacket cover has a dark and Gothic feel to it and the greys suggested to me that there would be no clear cut black and white presentation in the plot, themes and characters. I was right. The title gives us the hint – there is both physically awaiting and ambushing in Lying in Wait as well as so many characters behaving mendaciously to themselves and others. This is psychological writing at its finest.
From the dramatic opening line to the bleak final sentence Liz Nugent’s plot had me gripped. The events reminded me of one of those fairground halls of mirrors from my childhood where nothing is quite what it seems. Elements shift, distort and fragment with just a word or phrase so that the reader’s perspective alters frequently until they are almost being lied to by the first person narrators as much as the characters are in the story. Small, seemingly throwaway, lines are slipped subtly into the story and I found myself thinking, ‘Hang on. What did they just say?’ or, ‘No! Don’t do that. Don’t say that.’ and my stomach did a little flip with my pulse increasing. The chapter endings are incredible and even if Lying in Wait wasn’t already completely enthralling, those alone would compel any reader to read on.
Narrated in a conversational first person tone from the three perspectives of Lydia, Laurence and Karen, each has a distinct voice that reveals snippets of information. There is an underlying malevolence so that in the end I wasn’t sure at all how I felt about Lydia. I couldn’t decide if she was evil, insane or merely a damaged product of her past who deserved some sympathy. Indeed, I found all the characters made me think hard and change my opinions frequently.
What really played with my mind, however, was trying to decide just what I thought was a crime and just who the guilty people were. It is no secret that a murder has been committed and there is a murderer, but other crimes abound too, from the way society (especially in the 1980s when the book is set) treated those suffering dyslexia, or treated unmarried mothers, or how the police regarded those in prostitution and how society frequently bullies those who are obese or physically different. I was enraged by the behaviour of Declan O’Toole and Lydia’s obsession with Laurence is terrifying.
I consumed Lying in Wait over a weekend as I found it so compelling that I could not stop reading. Lying in Wait is disturbing, enthralling and utterly brilliant.