Hailed by #1 New York Times bestselling author A.J. Finn as “a dark jewel of a novel,” Liz Nugent’s new work of fiction follows three Irish brothers, and delves into the many ways families can wreak emotional havoc across generations.
All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral.
Only one of us was in the coffin.
William, Brian, and Luke: three boys bound by blood but split by fate, trained from birth by their wily mother to compete for her attention. They play games, as brothers do...yet even after the Drumms escape into the world beyond their windows, those games—those little cruelties—grow more sinister, more merciless, more dangerous. And with their lives entwined like the strands of a noose, only two of the brothers will survive.
Crisply written and quickly paced, perfect for readers of both sophisticated literary fiction and breathtaking suspense, Little Cruelties gazes unflinchingly into the darkness: the darkness collecting in the corners of childhood homes, hiding beneath marriage beds, clasped in the palms of two brothers shaking hands. And it confirms Liz Nugent, whose novels have been celebrated as “captivating” (People) and “highly entertaining” (The Washington Post), as one of the most exciting, perceptive voices in contemporary fiction.
This artfully constructed but coal-black psychological suspense novel from Irish author Nugent (Skin Deep) opens at the funeral of one of the often-estranged, sociopathic Drumm brothers: William, Brian, and Luke. Which brother is in the coffin and how he got there isn't revealed until much later. The long, strange trip before then emerges in sections narrated in turn by the trio, starting with the entitled eldest, William, a sexist film producer, and ending with baby Luke, a former pop star, much of whose bad behavior can be attributed to lifelong mental illness and addiction issues. In between there's money-mad Brian, who, as Luke's manager, stole Luke's mansion and peddled his brother's secrets to the press. The cruel way their supremely narcissistic mother, a fading Dublin dance band singer, treated her sons accounts for how they developed into such fatally flawed individuals. (Their innocuous father died in their teens.) Though the author's skillful telling of this multigenerational tragedy has the riveting power of an imminent car crash, its despicable characters and unremitting darkness may put off many. Readers who don't like it intensely grim are advised to start with one of Nugent's earlier, not quite so dark books.