Skip to Main Content

About The Book

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.

About The Author

Photograph by Beta Bajgartova

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 bestselling novels Unraveling OliverLying in Wait, and Little Cruelties. She lives in Dublin and has won four Irish Book Awards, as well as the James Joyce Medal for Literature. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter at @LizzieNugent.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (February 6, 2018)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501191282

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“'I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’ From that searing opening line, the 'who' and the 'what' of this unnerving psychological thriller are never in doubt.. it’s the 'why' that fascinates as Nugent expertly peels back the layers to reveal the truth.”


“Pitch-black and superbly written.” 

– Ruth Ware, New York Times bestselling author of IN A DARK, DARK WOOD

“A compelling whydunnit [that] examines why a celebrated writer of children’s books would harm his wife, the illustrator of his stories.” 

– Toronto Star

A "highly entertaining and aesthetically satisfying novel — a book that stretches the limits of crime fiction... Nugent’s other exceptional asset is her skill as a plotter. She assembles the pieces of Oliver’s past to form a rich and coherent design."

– The Washington Post

"Top-notch 'grip lit."

– Marian Keyes, New York Times bestselling author

"Truly excellent, beautifully written ... strongly recommended."

– Sophie Hannah, New York Times bestselling author

“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)

"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."

– Entertainment Weekly

"A page-turning, one-sitting read from a brand new master of psychological suspense."

– Sunday Independent

“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.” 

– Booklist

“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

"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 (

Awards and Honors

  • Paul's Pick

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

More books from this author: Liz Nugent