Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent is one of the most beguiling and intriguing debut novels I have read in a long time. Liz is well established as a writer for television and radio but she has certainly not played it safe with her first novel; with multiple viewpoints and a charismatic but horrifyingly nasty protagonist she invites us all into the mind of a monster. With each chapter told through the eyes of many different people in his life we come to know Oliver as layer by layer the truth of his childhood and the dark secret he carries are revealed.
The book opens with the stark line "I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her." It soon becomes clear that Oliver has beaten his wife Alice so badly that she is in hospital and unconscious. The facade of a charmer, a dreamer, an artist is over and Oliver is exposed. The novel then reveals his life through his story and the stories of those who knew him or thought they did. Perfect if you enjoy a dark psychological drama, for example Barbara Vine or Daphne du Maurier. A writer to watch. thanks to Cliona Lewis of Penguin Ireland for a review copy of this book.