Friday 24 November 2017

Crime: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Penguin Ireland, €16.99

Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Hilary A White

A body is buried in the flowerbed at the rear of Avalon, a Georgian pile in South County Dublin that is home to Justice George Fitzsimons, his wife Lydia and their son Laurence. The corpse is that of Annie Doyle, an inner-city prostitute who in the first lines of this second crime novel from Liz Nugent we learn “had it coming”.

Laurence is not privy to the gruesome act and cover-up by his parents but starts to notice that something is amiss in the already odd household, a feeling that is ramped up even further after George dies of a heart attack.

The obese but mentally alert Laurence begins to look closer into the darkness and ends up forming an obsession that will bring him into contact with Annie’s sister Karen, who is determined to unearth the whereabouts of her sibling some years later when the case has gone cold.

Within a cross-section of 1980s Dublin, Nugent teases out a horror show of obsession and dysfunction that creeps with predatory zeal towards a sub-zero finale that you won’t shake off for days. Two wonderful villains lie at its dark heart — Lydia, a ghastly but superbly constructed monster, and Avalon, the lair she never leaves.

Nugent manages an extraordinary amount of sustained dread and uncertainty in this excellent gothic chiller that is designed solely to keep you awake into the wee hours. Since its release, Lying In Wait has become a presence in the Irish fiction charts, and is a dead cert to be remembered in end-of-year lists as “the feel-bad hit of the summer”.

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