Richard and Judy Review: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Richard and Judy Review: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

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"This thoroughly engaging thriller becomes darker and murkier by the page. It’s like an inverted stage farce. "

Richard’s review

This hugely enjoyable thriller is not really about who killed Annie Doyle; it’s why. And the darkness comes from the discovery of the astonishing depths of selfish cruelty that Lydia, with no self-knowledge whatsoever, avidly inflicts on others purely for her own gain.

The kernel of the story is the relationship between Lydia and Laurence. He is decent and bright. His parents think he’s naïve, but he quickly discovers that there is a body buried in the family garden. His mother tells him that his father killed Annie.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.

Lydia’s son Laurence becomes obsessed with the dead girl’s family, befriending and then falling in love with her sister, Karen, who refuses to believe Annie is dead and is searching for her.

Lydia controls her son with ruthless and secretive power. He is fat. Without his knowledge she feeds him drugs that destroy his appetite and make him lose weight. Newly slim, he is devastatingly handsome, but whenever Lydia wants to punish her son, she withdraws the drugs and he rapidly becomes obese again, the subject of mockery and abuse from his peers.

Lydia is a monster; in fact, many fans of the book have said it shines a new and horrible light on the relationship between some mothers and sons.

This thoroughly engaging thriller becomes darker and murkier by the page. It’s like an inverted stage farce. Each development in the story and within the family gets increasingly extreme. The characters, especially the dark and weird Lydia (we eventually discover some of her appalling childhood secrets) are compelling.

We both loved it.

"She grips you by the throat and you dangle helplessly from her iron fist until the last sentence, when she lets you go, and you drop, exhausted, to the floor."

Judy’s review

‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it.’ How’s that for an opening line? Straight away you know Liz Nugent means business. She grips you by the throat and you dangle helplessly from her iron fist until the last sentence, when she lets you go, and you drop, exhausted, to the floor.

This is such a clever thriller, intense, emotionally dark, and so macabre that at times you (almost) want to laugh. I bet you couldn’t help smiling when you read that opening line.

This is the story of an intensely respectable Irish family living in Dublin in the 1980s. The husband in question is a highly respected judge, Andrew Fitzsimons. The wife who observes that Annie Doyle was a ‘lying tramp who deserved it’ is the fragrant Lydia. And what a piece of work Lydia is – a conscienceless, almost psychopathic ogress, preoccupied only with her own status, her standard of living, and her obscenely obsessive and possessive love for her son Laurence.

From Nugent’s opening line you will already have gathered that a murder has been committed. What’s more, the couple have buried Annie Doyle in the beautiful garden of their gorgeous Dublin house, Avalon. So this story is not a whodunit. We already know that 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 inter her in their lovely suburban garden. Yet Andrew and Lydia Fitzsimons find themselves in this somewhat unfortunate situation.

Creepy and compelling.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for Lying in Wait

"A tense, taut, almost gothic thriller where the tension tightens to near unbearable proportions …impossible to stop reading. A brilliantly written, stand-out novel."

Marian Keyes

"Deliciously twisted, shot through with dark and acid humour and the denouement is truly chilling."

Sarah Hilary

"Taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book. It has the eeriness of The Turn of the Screw; but as these screws turn, a mighty tension takes hold. Masterly"

Sebastian Barry