“Searing, searching, finally scorching. Think Making a Murderer via Patricia Highsmith: an elegant kaleidoscope novel that refines and combines multiple perspectives until its subject is brought into indelible, tragic focus.” —A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“Pitch-black and superbly written.” —Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10
“Top-notch grip lit…incredibly brilliant.” —Marian Keyes, New York Times bestselling author
Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.
The people who know Oliver can only speculate about the reasons behind his brutal act: his empty-headed mistress Moya, vain and petulant; Veronique, the French chatelaine who tragically lost everything the summer she employed him in her vineyard; Alice’s friend Barney, who has nursed an unrequited love for her since childhood; Oliver’s college pal Michael, struggling with voiceless longings that have shamed him for years. What none of them understands is the dark secret that lies behind his immaculate façade.
The revelations that come to light as the layers of Oliver’s past are peeled away are as brutal as his singular act of violence. His decades of careful deception have masked a life irrevocably marked by abandonment, envy, and shame—and as the details of that life are laid bare, Oliver discovers that outrunning his demons is harder than it looks.
With its insight into the mind of a psychopath emerging from the wreckage of his own misbegotten past, Unraveling Oliver is a chilling page-turner, brilliantly crafted and unexpectedly moving, by a stunning new voice in fiction. Liz Nugent "presents a fresh look at a man hiding his violent personality in this intense character study" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). As powerful as Patricia Highsmith’s unforgettable noir classic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Unraveling Oliver will enthrall you from its mesmerizing opening line to its equally shocking last page.
The unfathomable motive behind a seemingly unprovoked attack by children's book author Oliver Ryan on his wife, Alice, drives Irish author Nugent's outstanding first novel. To most people, the handsome, charismatic Oliver and the plain, shy Alice appeared to have had a decent marriage for more than 20 years. The relationship was enhanced by Alice being the illustrator for Oliver's world-renowned kids novels. Despite Oliver's frequent affairs, he was discreet and the couple enjoyed a comfortable life in Dublin. The narrative alternates between those who knew Oliver and Alice at different times. Family members, friends, and acquaintances seek some clue to what caused Oliver's brutality as Alice languishes in a coma. Even Oliver seems amazed at his actions because he was "fond of her, in my way," and appreciative that Alice made no demands on him. The tension subtly rises as Oliver's past unravels, revealing a loveless childhood rooted in religious hypocrisy. Nugent presents a fresh look at a man hiding his violent personality in this intense character study, which won the Irish Book Award's Crime Novel of the Year.
I read Lying In Wait first and enjoyed it, so I had to read Unraveling Oliver. Both books are good reads, and I look forward to read others. Poor Oliver!
Show, Don’t Tell
While this book delves into the characters well, and there is definitely an interesting story there, it breaks The Show, Don’t Tell rule. The constant narration without all the other balancing elements of fiction is tedious at times. I don’t know why the author chose this device or why the publishers accepted it, but I found it disappointing, and, as I mentioned, tedious. It makes me hesitant to want to read her other books.
Excellent novel. Great pace. Not difficult to follow or understand. I kept finding myself trying to pick it up again to read what came next. From the first chapter, I was hooked.