Lying in Wait / Media 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

Rick O’Shea – RTÉ Radio 1

A thought after something was mentioned in the ROSBC and as a result of it a one-stop shop of brilliant books written by women that I’ve read in the last 3 years or so that you might not have stumbled on from every possible genre.

Rick O’Shea

Sinead Crowley’s Favourite Books of 2016

Let the End Of Year lists begin! We asked RTÉ Arts and Media Correspondent (and acclaimed novelist) Sinead Crowley to pick her favourite books of 2016. How many of them have you read?

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Quiet enough oul year, eh? Okay, maybe not. But I did manage to get a bit of reading done, and here’s a few of the books I enjoyed in 2016. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list of what is out there to buy for Christmas, there will be plenty of those published elsewhere, but each one of these kept me turning the pages and, as stocking fillers go, you can’t ask for much more.

Lying in Wait – Liz Nugent

Recent winner of the Ryan Tubridy Show’s Listener’s Choice award, this book can best be described as Daphne Du Maurier does SoCoDu. Lydia lives in a giant house in the best part of Dublin, but evil lies outside – and perhaps also within – the walls.

RTÉ Culture

The Irish Times – Top Reads of the Year

At the end of each year the book-loving community begins to rub its hands with glee as the Top Reads of the Year lists commence. We all glance through the lists, hoping to see a title that we also adored and maybe share the links on social media with added comments like “I’ve read 20. How many have you read?” or “I TOLD you these were great books, right?”.

More on The Irish Times

Sunday Independent

Lying in Wait chosen by Donal Ryan and Martina Devlin as their top reads of the year.

Martina Devlin

The Years That Followed, Catherine Dunne (Macmillan). There’s an intensity to this novel that draws in the reader: seduction, betrayal and revenge — themes don’t come much more primal. Inspired by Greek myth, this is a modern retelling of a classic revenge story set against Cyprus, Spain and Ireland. It follows the fortunes of two women escaping from difficult home lives, but vulnerable in their new surroundings. You can smell the Mediterranean as you read.

Any new Jennifer Johnston book is a cause for celebration in my view. Her latest Naming The Stars (Tinder Press) is a novella about festering secrets and keeping up appearances. Two elderly ladies — employer and employee, although their relationship is characterised by long-standing affection — live in an imposing period house which has seen better days and “have a row over their dinner one night,” as Jennifer describes it. That argument ventilates a hurt from the past. The novella is published in conjunction with one of my favourite earlier novels, Two Moons.

I’ve bought half a dozen copies of Lying In Wait, by Liz Nugent because any time someone drops by, takes it off my shelves and reads a few lines, they’re hooked instantly and beg to borrow it. This is a taut, gripping, psychological thriller, with vivid storytelling — no wonder I swallowed it in one gulp. Obsessional mother love is the disturbing motif at its core.

Donal Ryan

Billy Keane’s columns are the best thing about Mondays and now there’s a book of them it’s like having a bunch of letters from an old friend, full of humour and humanity and joyful, unsneering irreverence, reminding me of what’s really important in this life. Billy lifts people, even in the saddest of times. The Best of Billy Keane (Ballpoint Press Limited) should be in every home in Ireland. A Last Loving: Collected Poems by Maeve Kelly (Syracuse University Press) and Playing The Octopus, (Carcanet Press) Mary O’Malley’s sublime new collection, were two of the poetry events of the year, and are works to be savoured and cherished.

I read some amazing memoirs this year, including poet Patrick Deeley’s achingly beautiful The Hurley Maker’s Son (Doubleday Ireland) and Paul O’Connell’s brilliant, bruising The Battle .

I’ve started to catch up on contemporary crime and thrillers: Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait is genius; Alex Barclay’s The Drowning Child (Harper Collins) is mesmerising; Tana French continues to wow her huge global audience with The Trespasser (Hodder & Stoughton); and Sam Blake’s debut Little Bones (Twenty7) is a truly engrossing read.

Sebastian Barry’s Days Without End (Faber & Faber) is a magnificent novel, one of the best I’ve ever read. Sam Coll’s towering debut The Abode of Fancy (The Lilliput Press) is a staggering display of linguistic gymnastics and a tall and enthralling tale to boot. Colm O’Regan’s Bolloxology (Transworld Ireland) is a scream, a howl, a pure joy.

Sunday Independent