Liz wins the Reader’s Vote

The Richard and Judy Spring 2017 Book Club has come to an end, and after delving into eight compelling novels by some truly talented authors, our followers have voted for their winner; Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent!

“To hear that my book has won the Richard and Judy Reader’s Vote is the icing on a very sweet cake because I’ve now read all of the other titles on the list and would have been very happy for any of them to win. What can I say? Richard and Judy have excellent taste! Huge thanks to the super team at WHSmith and of course, to Richard Madeley & Judy Finnigan, whose love of books has endeared them to readers and writers alike. The biggest thanks of all to the readers who took the time to read and vote. Your encouragement means everything.” – Liz Nugent

Lying in Wait is a compelling story with characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. Respected judge Andrew Fitzsimons and his wife Lydia have murdered a young woman named Annie Doyle and buried her in their back garden. Andrew is falling apart in the aftermath of their crime, but Lydia is calm and focused on protecting their son Laurence from the consequences. Laurence is smarter than she thinks however, and he’s soon worked out what’s buried in his parent’s garden and who it is. What happens next is a complex and twisting story of deceit, manipulation and betrayal that will leave your head spinning by the end. Judy called it ‘so macabre that at times you (almost) want to laugh’ and Richard described it as ‘darker and murkier by the page’. Our book club readers loved it too…


“A very good book, loved the twist at the end, didn’t expect that, would recommend this book to everyone…love it xx” – Lorraine Tomlinson, Facebook

“Hey @LizzieNugent, I am so into #LyingInWait right now it has taken my weekend away from me! #SorryNotSorry #CrimeFiction #AmReading #WHSRJ” – Sian Dennis, Twitter

“Just finished this book, the ending was so good was not expecting that…Highly recommend #LizNugent #LyingInWait #RichardAndJudyBookClub” – Imem, Instagram

Congratulations to Liz, and thanks very much to everyone that voted!

The Richard and Judy Spring Book Club

Book Club questions for Lying in Wait

Lying in Wait is a dark and gripping story of obsessive love, flawed characters and the unnerving personality of a killer. While we learn from the very beginning who has killed Annie Doyle, the mystery is why did they do it? And as author Liz Nugent slowly unravels the chilling reasons behind the murder we learn just how sinister these characters truly are.

Lying in Wait is exactly the sort of book you press upon a friend after reading so that you can both discuss the twists and turns and the characters you love to hate. Print out our reading group questions and bring them along to your next book club night, or leave your answers in the comments box below to kick off the conversation online.

Liz Nugent is a radio and TV scriptwriter – do you think that affects the way that she writes her novels?

Discuss the way that the author uses 3 different narrators in the novel

Many of the characters in this novel are not particularly likeable. Do you need to be able to empathise with characters in a book to enjoy it?

Discuss how the author structures the novel to build the tension

WHSmith – Book Club

Richard & Judy podcast interview with Liz

After the incredible success of her crime debut – Unravelling Oliver – Liz Nugent’s second book – Lying in Wait – was met with high expectations and certainly did not disappoint. With phenomenal story-telling, dark humour and a cast of fascinating characters, Lying in Wait grips from the first page and keeps you on your toes until the very end.

In this exclusive interview for the Book Club, Richard and Judy ask Liz Nugent about the pressure of following up her hugely successful debut, her dark imagination and how she plots out her intricate stories. Read the full interview below to find out more.

You were crime novelist of the year in 2014. Does winning that sort of accolade give you confidence or does it make you terrified that the next one won’t be as good?

Definitely terrified! I didn’t really think of myself as a writer because I’d only written one book Unravelling Oliver. I know how crazy it sounds, but I had no expectations for it and hadn’t really thought about writing another novel until Penguin asked me. My second had to be as good if not better, and I thought I’d used up all my story ideas in one book. My pal Marian Keyes gave me great advice: she told me I had to allow time between books for the story well to fill up again. She assured me that the ideas would come and, sure enough, the character of Laurence just revealed himself to me one day and I started to write in his voice. . Originally it was a one-person narrative. It was my editor’s suggestion to make Lydia a character and when I started writing from her point of view, this deliciously cruel and callous villain emerged.

There was an awful lot of re-writing involved in Lying in Wait so that by the time I was finished, I had no idea whether it was any good or not. In fact a few weeks after I’d submitted the final draft, I emailed my editor to apologise for having disappointed her with such a terrible book. She reassured me that she was very happy with it. I guess I was just too close to it to be able to judge for myself. It was really hard work to wrestle the story to the page. Now that Lying in Wait is doing well, I’m terrified that the book I’m currently working on will be a massive flop!

You have a very dark imagination. Is it confined to your novel-writing or does a little thundercloud hover above your head wherever you go? Do you see the black side of any situation, all the bleak possibilities?

I’m actually very light-hearted in person. A lot of my friends ask why I don’t write a comic novel because I see hilarity in the darkest of situations. I don’t know where the darkness in my writing comes from, but I guess my own reading preferences would lean towards the sinister and macabre. I’m attracted to news stories about psychopaths and sociopaths – and I’ve worked for a few in my time! They fascinate me.

Your plotting is intricate and believable. Do you plan out your novels completely before starting to write them, or is there an element of ‘winging it’?

I wish I had some grand plan, but each novel is different. I usually start out with a broad outline but I think the broader the better, because you should not limit yourself as a writer. There are endless story possibilities and I prefer to leave the door open to them right up until the last page. I try not to write predictably, because I want to be surprised by my characters too, so often I will think about what is the next logical step for a character, and then find a way for that step not to be possible. When characters make really bad decisions, you get drama. So yes, there is definitely an element of winging it.

Psychological suspense is very much de jour. Which other writers of the genre do you admire, and are you influenced by any of them?

I’m heavily influenced by everything I read. The classical suspense writers like Henry James, Daphne du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith were high on my list and there are some amazing current writers I really love: SJ Watson, Claire Mackintosh, Paula Hawkins, Alex Marwood, Tammy Cohen, CL Taylor and Tana French. But I have a special place in my heart for Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, the original whydunnit.


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

Prequel to Lying in Wait

Dark crime thriller Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent introduces us to well-to-do Lydia and her highly respected husband Andrew after they kill a young prostitute named Annie. While Andrew struggles to hold it together after their crime, Lydia is unsettlingly calm and focused on protecting her son Lawrence. As the story progresses we find out why Lydia and Andrew were involved with Annie, what led them to kill her and whether they’ll get away with her murder.

In this chilling prequel to Lying in Wait, we get an insight into Lydia’s childhood and the manipulative behaviour she learned from a young age. Read on to find out more.


I was watching Mummy prepare to go to her Ladies Club dinner in her dressing room. She hummed to the sound of dance music drifting up from the gramophone player downstairs. Her face in the mirror was like a bigger version of mine but with edges instead of circular.

She fixed her hair and I mimicked her, using my fingers spread out like the teeth of her comb, but my fingers got caught in my tangles and when she caught my eye in the mirror, she grinned at me and passed me her tortoiseshell comb with the silver casing.

She was wearing the most beautiful dress. It was like one that ladies in films wear, cinched in at the waist and higher at the knee than usual. The neckline dropped to a v just above her slip, and I could not wait until I could wear one like that, but I looked down at my flat chest and knew that I would have a long wait. Daddy didn’t let her wear this dress to a party the previous week. He said it was indecent and shouted at her that she would make a laughing stock of him. I was afraid that he was going to come home now and catch her wearing it, because she told him she would return it to the store. Mummy didn’t always tell the truth. Neither did I.

She applied a slick of the reddest lipstick I have ever seen, and her lips were shining and glossy. She rubbed them together and blew a kiss at herself in the mirror and winked. I wanted her to blow a kiss at me, but she didn’t.

‘Be good for Daddy and, after supper, say your prayers and wash your face and neck before bed, all right, Lydia?’

‘Yes, mummy.’

My sister, Diana, had crept into the room unnoticed by either of us. Now she revealed her presence.

‘Daddy’s going to go crazy if he sees you in that dress. Where are you going?’ she said.

Mummy sighed. ‘Daddy won’t know unless you tell him, Diana. I’m going to the Ladies Club dinner, I told you that at lunchtime.’

‘You’re wearing that to the Ladies Club dinner?’ Mummy blushed slightly, but ignored the question.

‘Run along now, girls and do your homework before Daddy gets home. Hannah will have supper ready for you at seven.’

I went to kiss Mummy goodbye but she turned her face away so as not to ruin her make-up. She squeezed me instead, but it wasn’t good enough. I watched from the top of the bannisters as she flew down the stairs in a flurry of excitement.


Diana and I woke up that night, twins in our twin beds, to the sound of Daddy shouting, Mummy crying and furniture flying. We scrambled over to the door and pressed our ears to it. Scared, Diana whispered ‘what’s going on?’

‘I don’t know. Is it because of the dress?’

‘He never waits up for her. How would he know she was wearing it?’ Mummy always changed in her dressing room before bed.

The next day, Mummy was gone. A lady came and collected suitcases for her. In the corner of a drawer in her dressing table, I found the crimson lipstick and hid it in the hole in the wall under the windowsill in our bedroom, but the dress was shredded on the floor of her wardrobe. Daddy said that Mummy was not coming back, and that we would get used to it. I should not have told him about the dress, but she should have blown me a kiss in the mirror. She should have kissed me goodnight.


Liz Nugent: How I Learned to Write

I have never done a course in creative writing and neither have I ever read a book about how to write a book. I learned to write from reading. Perhaps that is why it took me so long?

I like books to surprise me and to shock me and the characters I like to read about are often deeply flawed outsiders, emotionally disconnected from the world.

Every writer approaches their work differently and I can only say what works for me. I always start with a character and the aftermath of action. A major incident has happened and I examine how that character reacts to it. I distil everything down to one sentence so that in the first line, the reader will be able to capture the essence of the central character, and know exactly who they are dealing with.rj-spring-2017-liz-nugent-authors-choice-1

In the case of Lying in Wait, we are introduced to Lydia with the line: ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ These are not the words of a remorseful or warm-hearted woman.

Very quickly, on the next page, we learn that, in fact, Lydia dealt the fatal blow to Annie Doyle. So we are not dealing with someone who takes responsibility, is reliable, or truthful.

But by the end of the chapter, we see a contradiction in Lydia. She is callously in control, but she adores her son and wishes to protect him at all costs. So, she’s not all bad, right? She’s a great mother. Or is she?

Everything comes down to character in the end. The more damaged they are, the more interesting they are to me. I prefer not to believe in people being ‘evil’, so while I write fairly sociopathic characters, I try to give them an intriguing back-story that might explain their neuroses. Lydia has so many. Her attachment to her family home, kept like a museum; her agoraphobia; her obsession with her only son; her social anxiety and her relentless need to be in control.

In a character’s course of action, I will often look at the next logical step that person might take, and then I find a reason for that not to be possible. When characters make bad decisions, that’s when you get drama.

I keep dialogue as naturalistic as possible. People tend to speak in short bursts and interrupt each other all the time (well, in my family they do, but then, we have appalling manners), so conversations overlap. In real life, people do not speechify, so I try not to have more than three or four lines of dialogue from a character at a time.

It is said that you should write what you know, and yes, I do draw from my own experiences. I grew up in a large house and attended a private school that our family could not afford. I worked in an Unemployment Benefit Office in London. And I grew up in the 1980s, which was a scary time to be an adolescent. I remember being terrified that nuclear war could break out. John Lennon was shot dead and both the Pope and US President Ronald Reagan survived assassination attempts. On the domestic front, there was a very disturbed man living next door to us, who would steal (women’s) clothes off our washing line, and once held my siblings at knifepoint, so, for me, I spent most of the 1980s wondering when and how I would be murdered. I didn’t actually relax until he died in 1990.

In terms of plot, I am a very impatient writer and I don’t like to waste words so everything must drive the story onwards. Very occasionally, I allow myself a little tangent, and offer an opinion on some matter but only if it coincides with the opinion of the character I am writing. People talk a lot about ‘twists’ in books. I don’t set out to write twists necessarily but I like to defy expectations and surprise the reader, and myself.

Readers have commented that they never saw the end of Lying in Wait coming, that they could never have predicted it. Well, it was a surprise to me too. It came to me as I was writing it. I could have tied everything up in a neat bow and let some characters live as happily ever after as they could, but where’s the fun in that?

To finish, I’d like to hold a little awards ceremony for my characters. You may have your own ideas and I’d love to hear them, but here’s mine:

Character most like me: Laurence is the character I most identify with. He is scared and he’s a coward and he hates confrontation. Me too.

Character I want to be: Karen is beautiful and strong and brave, and capable of enormous love and generosity.

Character I would most like to have a drink with: Helen is outrageous and speaks her mind regardless of the consequences. She is inherently quite selfish, but she would keep me amused over a few gin and tonics.

Most gormless character: Malcolm. Lydia’s psychiatrist boyfriend is so easily manipulated and so bad at his job that he was unable to see quite how deranged Lydia is.

Character I hope got a happy ending: Bridget. There was no space to write it in the book, but I’m guessing Bridget would have become a minor celebrity in her home town. She might have written a book or had her photographs of Laurence published and gone on a chat show circuit to tell the story of their relationship. I hope she married well and had six children.

Character I would want in my corner: Laurence’s granny Eleanor. She wants the best for him and makes him change his ways whether he wants to or not (this is quite like the relationship I have with my editor).

Character I would not like to meet in a dark alley: Lydia. Ever since I finished writing the book, I still find myself wondering what she’s up to. I wish she’d leave me alone.

WHSmith – Richard & Judy

Unravelling Oliver to be published in the USA, August 2017

Unravelling Oliver will be published in the USA for the first time in August 2017 by Scout Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Liz is absolutely delighted that it has been chosen for Book Expo America’s Book Buzz Adult Fiction panel. The prestigious BookExpo 2017 Adult Book Editors’ Buzz Panel program names the top authors and titles expected to resonate with readers in 2017.


UNRAVELING OLIVER - US EditionThe prestigious BookExpo 2017 Adult Book Editors’ Buzz Panel program names the top authors and titles expected to resonate with readers in 2017. Over the past years, BookExpo’s Editors’ Buzz program has had a tremendous track record of predicting the coming year’s hottest books. Last year’s selections included breakthrough books such as: Another Day in the Death of America, by Gary Younage; Darktown, by Thomas Mullen; Caraval, by Stephanie Garber; Thieving Weasels, by Billy Taylor; Gertie’s Leap to Greatness, by Kate Beasley; and The Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes, by Wade Albert White. In addition, over the past three years, the program has selected nine books that made it onto The New York Times Best Sellers list.

The selection process was made by three separate committees of booksellers, librarians and other industry professionals. The thoughtful debates within the selection process are designed to achieve the widest possible consensus. The Buzz Panel presentations, which feature book editors discussing the individual selections, will be supplemented with an Author Stage appearance for the chosen authors.

Dave Fanning of 2FM interviews Liz

Dave Fanning of 2FM interviews Liz about her success and her writing life and her Dad’s sage advice.

WHSmith Richard and Judy Party

Liz was thrilled to meet so many of her Lit (and cooking) heroes at the WHSmith Richard and Judy party in London to announce their spring list on January 11th 2017.

Liz with Jesse Burton and David Mitchell.

Liz with Jesse Burton and David Mitchell.

Liz with her favourite chef in the world, Rick Stein.

Liz with her favourite chef in the world, Rick Stein.

Liz with Jilly Cooper

Liz with Jilly Cooper

Liz with SJ Watson

Liz with SJ Watson

Richard & Judy discuss reading in bed.

Richard & Judy discuss reading in bed.

Beautiful promo display at WHSmith Richard & Judy party.

Beautiful promo display at WHSmith Richard & Judy party.

Down in a tube station at midnight!

Down in a tube station at midnight!

Lying In Wait – Audio Book

Gone Girl fans will love Liz Nugent’s Lying in Wait … it twists, it turns, its characters are utterly despicable and it is a compulsive triumph’ Stylist

From the award-winning author of the No 1 bestseller, Unravelling Oliver

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


Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants …

‘A stunningly talented writer’ Sophie Hannah

‘The intricate plotting and jolting suspense hold you in a vice till the last page’ Sunday Times

‘Clear your diary if you pick up this seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouncement which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre’ Sunday Mirror

‘Brilliant plotting ratchets up the tension in this chilling tale of obsessive love, madness and motherhood’ Woman & Home

‘The wit is sharp and the plot full of punishing twists’ The Times Crime Club

An unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page’ Irish Times

‘An excellent example of “Domestic Noir” … excitement and curiosity mount until you realise you can’t put the book down. Highly recommended.’ Literary Review

‘A tense, taut, almost gothic thriller where the tension tightens to near unbearable proportions … impossible to stop reading. A brilliantly written, stand-out novel.’ Marian Keyes

‘Taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book. It has the eeriness of The Turn of the Screw; but as these screws turn, a mighty tension takes hold. Masterly’ Sebastian Barry

‘Deliciously twisted, shot through with dark and acid humour and the denouement is truly chilling.’ Sarah Hilary

‘Liz Nugent’s characters are as unforgettably monstrous as they are believable. A superbly crafted novel and an absorbing portrait of the purest kind of evil.’ Jane Casey

‘I thought it impossible to match the brilliant Unravelling Oliver, but this Liz has done. Not only is her style beautiful, but she keeps the reader on the edge of their seat from page one until the completely unexpected ending. I read Lying in Wait in one sitting. I just couldn’t bear the suspense. I absolutely loved it.’ Amanda Redman

‘She writes compellingly, creates posh sociopaths like no-one else and doesn’t flinch when the end demands what it demands. Lying In Wait is a story you genuinely should not miss’ Rick O’Shea, RTÉ

Read more on Penguin here