A chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of human behavior and the nature of evil.
“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”
Oliver Ryan, a handsome, charismatic, and successful man, is happily married to his wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books he writes and devotedly cares for him in their comfortable suburban home. Their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers blows to Alice that render her comatose.
As Alice hovers between life and death in her hospital bed, the couple’s circle of friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such an astonishing act of savagery. Oliver tells his story, peeling away the layers to reveal a life of shame, envy, breath-taking deception, and masterful manipulation. As details about his past catch up with him, even he is in for a shock.
Unraveling Oliver is a complex, disturbing, and brilliantly written page-turner about how and why a human being transforms into a sociopath.
Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theater, and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written critically acclaimed short stories both for children and adults, as well as the novels Unraveling Oliver and Lying in Wait. She lives in Dublin. Visit her at LizNugent.ie or follow her on Twitter at @Lizzienugent.
“Outstanding . . . 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.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Pitch-black and superbly written.”
– Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
"A dark secret life is at the center of Nugent's debut novel. . . . Nugent may be used to spending her life behind the scenes. But she'll be in the foreground for the foreseeable future."
– Publishers Weekly
"[A] page turner . . . vivid."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A gripping and powerful read."
– Literary Hub (lithub.com)
“Secrecy and sadness permeate this rich debut novel . . . readers are skillfully given glimpses of events and of the resulting devastation that Oliver so nonchalantly metes out.”
“Already an award-winning debut in the author’s native Ireland, this will attract fans of domestic suspense . . . readers will eagerly turn the pages all the way to the shocking conclusion.”
– Library Journal
"Each year, a small handful of books are selected as “Buzz Books” at the BookExpo of America conference—a sign that a book . . . has the makings of a hit. This year, Liz Nugent’s Unraveling Oliver is one of those books."
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