Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

‘Magnificent … compulsively readable … stunning, shock and superb’ Frank McGuinness
‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’
Liz Nugent’s gripping novel of psychological suspense, Unravelling Oliver… Is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith.
Oliver Ryan is a handsome and charismatic success story. He lives with his wife, Alice, who illustrates his award-winning children’s books and gives him her unstinting devotion. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease. Enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades. What unfolds is a story of shame, envy, breath-taking deception and masterful manipulation.
Only Oliver knows the lengths to which he has had to go to get the life he wanted. But even he is in for a shock when the past catches up with him.
Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theatre and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written short stories for children and adults. Unravelling Oliver is her first novel.
When I first read the synopsis for Unravelling Oliver my interest piqued.
I was expecting an emotionally charged read but what I got was that and so much more.
Through 231 pages I was on an intense journey. One that dealt with violence, betrayal, racism and loss. All which culminated in what I can only describe as a shockingly brilliant debut!
It wasn’t that I expected this not to be a good read. I am amazed by the amount of issues that the author deals with and all of them in a heartfelt way, none of them rushed or neglected in anyway.
The story starts from the narrative of Oliver and as we get more into the telling we’re offered narratives from friends and family. A case starts to build through the pages as we‘re drawn into the world of a man we know is violent!
There were times where I felt sorry for Oliver, as we explored his childhood my emotions turned less angry and more sympathetic. Although I have to admit this didn’t last long. I hated the man that is Oliver, but I loved some of the people who had been in his life.
Barney, Michael and Eugene were all great characters, people who Oliver has wronged, even if they didn’t know it. In fact there was only one other character that I didn’t like and that was Moya. She was extremely deceitful and even when she knew the truth she still made out she was a wronged woman!
There are two wronged women in this story and it’s not just a man that connects them, the secrets surrounding them both left me in shock. I won’t say anymore for fear of spoiling this story.
This is a truly captivating read that will put you on a roller coaster journey of emotions.

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