“My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.”
The 2016 book by Liz Nugent, Lying in Wait, follows the seemingly happy (if a little reclusive) Lydia Fitzsimons, who lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and respected judge, Alan, and beloved son, Laurence. But, one night, Lydia finds herself in an unfortunate situation with her husband when they meet up with a drug-addicted prostitute. They may have had their own plans that night, but they certainly didn’t plan to kill her and bury her in their exquisite suburban garden. While Lydia does all she can to protect their innocent son, her husband begins to fall apart. But Laurence is not as naïve as Lydia thinks, and his obsession with the dead girl’s family may be the undoing of his own.
Lying in Wait is a standout thriller because it does things a lot differently. Firstly, it is one of our main characters who commits the crime in the first paragraph. Opening with the line “My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it”, you know that this is going to be a brave and daring novel, and it hooks you from the start.
More of a confessional tale, this isn’t your typical mystery because we already know who committed the murder. Instead, it is a search for answers as we want to find out why this crime was committed and how the lives of the characters involved will continue to go on.
Set in 1980s Dublin, Lying in Wait is told across an epic 36-year timeline as we witness the consequences of these characters’ actions and lies. It’s a very psychological story, focusing on the feelings of control, obsession and possessiveness, and is full to the brim of betrayal and doomed outcomes.
With one of the main characters suffering from agoraphobia, as well, Lying in Wait also feels very claustrophobic. The atmosphere is set up brilliantly and has a gothic tone to it which instantly makes it feel like a classic.
Also told through three different points-of-view – Lydia, the reclusive wife, Laurence, her son, and Karen, the murdered woman’s sister – we get to see the impact of the murder on both families involved. The story is, therefore, very character-driven. With each of these characters being desperate, insecure, and brutally cold, the only really likeable character is the one buried at the bottom of the garden. Nevertheless, they are all created and developed incredibly well, as the story delves deep into both Liz’s and Annie’s past to explain why they were such desperate people in the first place.
I’m used to reading thrillers with big twists at the end, but this one is especially effective. Devastating, menacing, twisted, and blunt, the jaw-dropping ending really will chill you to the bone. This is one of the most memorable thrillers I have read in a long time.