Liz Nugent

Lying in Wait

""If you’re a fan of Barbara Vine, I guarantee you will love ‘Lying in Wait’." "


Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons, a respected judge and his reclusive wife, find themselves in a most unfortunate situation – they have had to murder a young woman and bury her in their exquisite garden. Together, the family lives in Avalon, a beautiful period property that has been in Lydia's family for years. On the surface, their life in 1980's Dublin couldn't be more perfect. But something dark lurks at the heart of this damaged family. Not least the fact that Andrew has just killed someone.

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.

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Liz Nugent's debut, 'Unravelling Oliver', was one of my favourite reads of 2015. So I was very excited to get my hands on her latest novel. And what a treat it is. From its brilliant opening line: 'My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it', we are introduced to the twisted world of Lydia Fitzsimons, Nugent's wonderfully unreliable narrator. The reasons for the murder aren't made clear immediately. Lydia tells us the meeting between her husband and the prostitute had been arranged to see if Annie was 'genuine and, if not, to get our money back'. She doesn't tell us what money Annie owes them or how she got that money in the first place. All this action takes place in the first few pages. It's a cracking opening section and what follows is a gripping psychological thriller told through the eyes of three narrators: Lydia, her son, Laurence, and the dead woman's sister, Karen. In their own way, each character is a victim. What's interesting is the different ways they deal with the hand fate has dealt them. Laurence and Karen both strive to turn their separate tragedies into something positive. Lydia, on the other hand, grows increasingly twisted and manipulative as the novel progresses – a woman desperate to shape the world to suit her own needs, regardless of the consequences on those around her. She is truly, shockingly awful… and great fun. Her supreme self-obsession, her utter disdain for other people, and her absolute certainty that her husband and son's only purpose in life is to bend to her will all make her a most compelling character. The novel raises interesting questions about the role of nature and nurture, and whether people can really escape the damage foisted on them by their parents. Reading it, I was reminded again and again of Larkin's classic poem, 'This Be the Verse': 'no wiser words ever written about how damage gets passed down through generations'. All that aside, it's not really why I loved this book. I loved it because Lydia Fitzsimons is one of the vilest, entertaining and utterly compelling fictional characters I have encountered in some time. I adored her! If you're a fan of Barbara Vine, I guarantee you will love 'Lying in Wait'.

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