"My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it". That's the killer opening line from Liz Nugent's new thriller, spoken by Lydia Fitzsimons, one of the novel's three main voices. She is married to Andrew Fitzsimons, a judge, and is mother to Laurence, her obese teenage son. They are, we're told "The last people who expect to be mixing with a drug-addicted prostitute".
In the opening pages, we discover how the couple intend to bury the young woman's body in their "exquisite suburban garden". These sentences reveal a lot about how Lydia sees herself and her family - socially superior, other - you could say she takes the role of over-protective Irish Mammy to a whole new level. The judge and his wife live in a mansion called Avalon, Lydia's family home to which she is obsessively attached.
The house has an oppressive pull - why? The book is full of 'whys' - why was Annie Doyle killed, why won't Lydia leave her home? Why is she so protective of her son? Cleverly crafted, multi-layered and absorbing, the story is told by Lydia, by Laurence and by Annie's sister Karen, who is determined to find out what really happened to her sister.
Liz Nugent has created characters that are interesting and believable, who appear real and convincing, even when some of them are behaving in a monstrous way. There are no two-dimensional baddies here which makes for a deliciously uneasy read. Their backstories are convincing and from the start, I was hooked, especially by Lydia, the book's most unlikable character. Yet for me, she is the most compelling. She stifles her son, she is secretive, needy, calculating, flawed and deeply troubled..
All of the characters in the book, major and minor, are well drawn and the 1980's setting is authentically evoked. Liz Nugent hasn't wasted a word. This is a gripping psychological thriller full of tension and suspense. I loved Nugent's debut Unravelling Oliver and this is better - no 'difficult second album' here. Lying In Wait is a genuine page turner, a story of obsession, desperate need and oppressive love, and the life-changing damage such emotions can do.
See TEN'S interview with the author here