LY­ING IN WAIT BY LIZ NU­GENT

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - BY LIZ NU­GENT By SARAH DOBB S

You’ll know from the very first sen­tence whether you’re go­ing to en­joy Liz Nu­gent’s new novel. It’s just got one of those open­ings: “My hus­band did not mean to kill An­nie Doyle, but the ly­ing tramp de­served it.” Im­me­di­ately, you know what you’re in for: mur­der, rage, and some truly hor­ri­fy­ing char­ac­ters. There’s no mystery sur­round­ing poor An­nie’s death, of course. In­stead, Nu­gent ex­plores what hap­pens next. And though An­nie’s mur­der is pretty grim, it’s noth­ing com­pared with the hor­rors that fol­low. Nar­rat­ing du­ties are split be­tween Ly­dia, the spoilt wife who helps her hus­band con­ceal his crime; Lau­rence, their cod­dled son; and Karen, An­nie’s sis­ter, whose in­abil­ity to give up on her miss­ing sib­ling leads her right to their door.

The most in­ter­est­ing of the three, by far, is Ly­dia: a kind of ’80s soap opera take on the Gothic mad­woman in the at­tic, she’s got an un­lim­ited ca­pac­ity for self-delu­sion and a hys­ter­i­cal fix­a­tion on so­cial sta­tus that makes her mor­bidly fas­ci­nat­ing. Lau­rence and Karen are rather more sym­pa­thetic, which makes the macabre end­ing all the more grotesque. Mis­an­thropic and darkly funny, this is a book of mon­sters that will make you won­der what se­crets your friendly neigh­bours might re­ally be hid­ing.

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