“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

That is the opening line from Liz Nugent’s 2014 award winning novel, Unraveling Oliver. And it grabbed me from that opening line and had me on the edge of my seat right up until the ending. 

A gripping psychological thriller

Oliver’s true character is revealed to us through the narratives of his friends and acquaintances in a series of character analyses and like pulling on the loose thread of your jersey, slowly his story unravels to reveal the true, evil but breathtakingly sad man underneath. 

“I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.”

So begins Liz Nugent’s astonishing debut novel—a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.

Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children’s books; their life together one of enviable privilege and ease—until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious, and subsequently beats her into a coma.

In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple’s friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.

I loved the writing style of the book. It kept me engaged as it slowly, layer by layer, thread by thread, revealed the true horror and devastation of the story. The true nature of Oliver’s character.

The book is well crafted, I found Liz kept me on the edge of my seat when the narration changed from character to character at the start of each chapter, revealing a little more of the story each time but in the most fluid way possible, the story picks up and drops off and carries on in the most perfect way. 

This is a solid 5 star read for me and if you enjoy psychological thrillers, you’ll love this one!