Lying in Wait / Blogger Reviews

Richard & Judy discuss Lying in Wait

For their Spring 2017 Book Club, Richard and Judy have picked the claustrophobic and emotionally gripping Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent. From the very start of this story we learn that our lead characters – respected judge Andrew Fitzsimons and his wife Lydia – have murdered Annie Doyle and buried her in their garden. While Andrew is cracking under the strain of what they’ve done, Lydia is calm, calculating and determined to protect their son Laurence from any consequences. But while we know who killed Annie, the question is why? What relationship did Andrew and Lydia have with Annie in the first place? You’ll have to keep turning pages to find out.

Richard describes Liz Nugent’s thriller as ‘darker and murkier by the page’ and Judy calls it ‘so macabre that at times you (almost) want to laugh’. Read their full reviews below to find out more about this dark thriller.

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.

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.

WHSmith – Spring Book Club 2017

PURE M Magazine

Pure M Magazine

By Rachel Casey

It’s easy to see why this book has been on the Irish bestsellers list for the last six weeks. Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait will keep you hooked from the first line until you close the book in disbelief at the end.

The murder of Annie Doyle is something that Lydia Fitzsimons wants to forget about as quickly as possible. Especially considering that it was her husband who committed the murder and buried her in the back garden. Despite Andrew’s guilt she tries to convince him that everything will be okay. They just have to go about their lives as normal. But their son, Laurence, has some suspicions if his own. Lydia knows she has to do everything she can to stop him as he gets closer to Annie Doyle’s family, and to revealing her family’s secret.

Lying in Wait is a book about human nature, and the lengths people will go to get what they want. Lydia is an obsessive, damaged person, who doesn’t have any sense of morality when it comes to getting her way. She blames her husband completely for the murder that she took part in. She tries to convince him that, if it comes to it, he should go to prison and let her and Laurence live their lives without him. Her obsession with her son makes her feel that because she is his mother she owns him, and he should stay with her instead of going out to live his own life.

As a character, Lydia is fascinating. She’s on a par with Cersei Lannister for the lengths she would go to for her children. She’s manipulative, but the way her mind works is fascinating. She genuinely doesn’t see that anything she is doing is wrong.

The reader is given an insight into her background and an event in her childhood involving her twin sister. From this it’s easy to see how she became as unstable as she is, but she shows no remorse for anything that happened. I haven’t felt a hatred so strong for a character since Professor Umbridge, but I was glued to the page waiting to see what Lydia would do next.

Despite the fact that Lydia is such a loathsome character, Nugent manages to keep her entirely believable. There’s no point in the book that you think ‘no way, that wouldn’t happen.’ Her son, Laurence, is the just as credible. He clearly loves his mother, and is just trying to understand how to live his life while still taking care of her. Nugent has created realistic and convincing characters and that makes the book all the more enjoyable to read.

Lying in Wait is a dark book, so don’t expect much of a happy ending. It’s not a typical mystery-thriller. You know from the very first line who the murder victim is and who killed her. It’s more about the aftermath, and the psychological impact the murder had on those affected. Lydia’s worry that she will lose her son. Laurence’s love for his mother turning to pity, and eventually to a hatred of his own. And Karen, the sister of the murder victim, spending years trying to find out what happened to Annie.

Nugent will have you going through every emotion possible as you read Lying In Wait, and it’s well worth it.

Dickens Does Books

Dickens Does Books

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When I picked Lying in Wait from my bookcase earlier this afternoon, I didn’t intend to read it all in one sitting – I just couldn’t stop reading!

Lying in Wait is dramatic and ensnaring straight from the off. Seriously – just look at the first sentence:

“My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”

That pretty much sets the tone for Lydia Fitzsimons, a wealthy, upper-class housewife who lives in her father’s stately home in Ireland with her husband, Andrew, and their son, Laurence.

With a secret, troubled past, Lydia is heartbroken after a series of miscarriages after the birth of her first son. Desperate, and somewhat neurotic, she enlists the help of her husband to find an alternative solution…but not everything goes to plan.

Now with two secrets, Lydia must ensure that Laurence continues to grow up to be a successful young man and find a suitable class-ranking wife; without finding out the truth.

The story is narrated by three main characters – Lydia, Laurence and Karen – who all share secrets of their own. However, their lives are entwined in ways that they don’t realise, and I found my nose getting closer and closer to the pages as the story progressed and the secrets started to be revealed, because I was so caught up in the drama.

Liz Nugent really sucked me in and kept me engrossed throughout. I kept saying “just one more chapter” again and again until there wasn’t anymore left to read!

There’s so many emotions and elements to the characters in Lying in Wait, but the main theme is relationships, especially between family; the bond between mother and son; father and daughter; siblings; husband and wife.

It’s a bit of a cliche, but it highlights what people are prepared to do for the ones they love, and how far they are willing to go. What seems black or white at first, appears a very confused shade of grey when it concerns our loved ones; can something ‘wrong’ actually be ‘right’ if done in the name of love? In the heat of a moment? As an act of compassion?

I’m dying to talk to people about this one – so if you’ve read please comment below and tell me what you thought!

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Book Stop Corner

Book Stop Corner

Liz Nugent, an Irish author, has once again captivated the readers’ hearts and minds with her new dark psychological thriller, Lying in Wait that revolves around a upper-class reputed family of three, where the parents commit a murder of a prostitute and bury her in their large back garden, and the mother of the family would do anything to protect her innocent son, and the son might do anything to make the dead girl’s family feel better.

Little did respected Judge Andrew and his wife, Lydia Fitzsimons knew that their degrading financial situation might turn them as murderers when a prostitute dupe them with their money as a result they had to kill the girl, Annie Doyle, and bury her in the back garden of their large, suburban house. But Lydia is a protective mother, who would do anything to keep her son, Lawrence, out of trouble, even if she has to pin the whole crime against her husband, Andrew. And soon after the murder, Andrew begins to lose his conscience and so his health. On the other hand, the naive mamma’s boy isn’t so naive as his mother thinks, as within few months of the murder, Lawrence begins obsessing with Annie Doyle’s death so much, that he would do anything to bring solace to the Doyle family.

Having read Nugent’s debut book, Unravelling Oliver, I had high hopes from this new book of hers, and honestly speaking, this book satisfied me beyond my expectations. The book opens with a murder and soon within no time, I was forced to feel hatred towards one of three protagonists from the book, so much hatred, that at times, I felt like throwing the book against the wall, and in the end, I was raging with anger, over the injustice. And surprisingly, despite of my anger, I couldn’t look away or turn my head away from the book even for once. The story went into my head and heart like some addictive drug, that even after the end of the story, I was left with the hallucination.

Lydia, Oliver and Karen (Annie’s sister) are the three protagonists, and the author has projected them so strikingly with such power that the readers will be forced to let these three main characters get inside their heads and play with it. Lydia is an over-protective mother and a solitary housewife with no social life, and in the beginning, readers will be forced to feel sorry for her situation, but as the author peels away each layer of this multi-dimensional character, the blood of the readers will boil and will make them hate Lydia, even though every time, she claims that whatever she is doing is out of mother’s love for her child. Lawrence is a plain character, who must be flawed from this outlook, but from the inside, he is a strong boy, who stands tall and fights bravely with the bullies that he faced because of his weight. This is the one such exceptional character for whom the readers will be forced to feel love and sympathy, even though he keeps fighting till the very end. Karen is a strong, modern woman, whose love for her sister is very real. In short, the characters of this book are psychologically twisted yer very much real, and the author has depicted them flawlessly into the story.

The author’s writing as well as prose is eloquent, laced with enough tension to grip the readers right from the very start. The narrative of the book is very much engaging that will keep the readers hooked to the story line. The pacing is really smooth and swift as the story progresses in a free flowing manner hence the readers will find it easy to read the complete book in just one sitting.

Reading the story will make the readers feel like riding high on a never-ending roller coaster ride filled with dark emotions and suspense. The story is quite dark since the author projected a rather dark side of a mother’s love that can come undone if you try to smother your child with too much care and compassion. Lawrence and Lydia are exact opposite of one another, yet in the end, they will look very similar. This downward spiral mother’s love will not only affect the characters, but will also keep the readers turning the pages of this book till the very end. And I suggest the readers to keep their emotions in check, as this book might even bring out the worst fear and emotions from the readers’ hearts.

In a nutshell, this compelling, dark yet evocative thriller is a must read for all.

Reviewed the Book

Reviewed the Book

Liz Nugent on Murderous Mothers

There really aren’t that many murderous mothers in fiction, so I wasn’t really following a trope when I wrote Lydia in Lying in Wait.

Originally, it was going to be her husband who committed the murder, but as I began to write it, it became clear that it would be far more interesting if Lydia were the driving force behind everything. As an over-protective mother, how far could I push her to protect her son? And then as her character revealed itself to me, I realized that she was far more interested in protecting herself than anyone else. She is self-obsessed to a deranged degree.

Lydia was a fascinating character to write because she is so disconnected from reality and such a snob. I actually had fun with her because she expressed opinions that I would naturally find abhorrent.

Off the top of my head, I can only find a few examples of these monstrous women. Let’s take a look:

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is similarly ruthless in her ambition and suggests to her husband that she would murder her own suckling child if that’s what she had committed to do. In the event, she doesn’t kill anyone except herself when the horror of what she has participated in becomes too much for her.

The absolute worst mother in literary history must be in Euripides’ play, Medea. The eponymous character murders her own children to take revenge on her ex husband. I think it strange that Medea was written in 431 BC and yet, since then, there have been so few plays or novels written about mothers sacrificing their own children?

When I was a teenager, I devoured Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews – a huge hit among my classmates about some children who were locked away in an attic by their grandmother and then almost poisoned by their mother. As far as I recall, the mother does not succeed. But as we were children when we read this, it was absolutely shocking to us that a mother might be so negligent. We didn’t realize how privileged we were.

So there we have a few examples from highbrow Greek tragedy to teenage 80s fiction dealing with murderous mothers. I’d love it if Lydia made it into the list in a few decades from now!

Of course in real life, there are women and mothers who murder. If I had time, I would love to make a psychological study of them. What were their motivations and what did they think the consequences would be? It hardly bears thinking about – and yet – I’m fascinated by them.