We first meet Cordelia Russell, the narrator of this mesmerising novel, as she stumbles out of her flat in the South of France leaving behind the blood-soaked body of a stranger. A few hours later at a glitzy film industry party, she is snorting cocaine and drinking cocktails with a man she’s picked up in a hotel bar. It’s a breathless opening, but deceptive. Cordelia, once a captivating beauty whose looks are fading in middle-age, turns out to have had an impoverished childhood in a remote part of Ireland. How she goes from Delia O’Flaherty, mending her father’s fishing nets as a young girl, to life on the Côte d’Azur and an apartment overlooking the Mediterranean is the compelling story she relates. It is not a rags-to-riches fairy tale, but a disturbing confessional of tragedy, cruelty, deception and, ultimately, murder. Delia – emotionally detached, self-centred and completely beguiling – uses her looks and cold heart from the start to manipulate those around her, unconcerned by the casualties she leaves in her wake. That includes family, friends, lovers and even her own child. But is she about to get her comeuppance? ‘What is this “love” that everybody is so obsessed by? There have been people I enjoyed spending time with, people who made me laugh sometimes, people who have taken care of me, fed and clothed me, but am I expected to reward them with declarations of love at every turn? I don’t know what it is. The only person I ever had strong feelings for was my father. I loved him. But if Daddy felt the same way about me, why did he shoot himself? I don’t think love is useful.’ Award-winning novelist Liz Nugent enjoyed a varied career before becoming a full-time writer, including touring the world as stage manager with the Riverdance theatre production. She grew up in Dublin, where she still lives with her husband. Liz writes exclusively about the background to Skin Deep at mailonsunday.co.uk/you, where you will also find suggested topics for your own book club discussion.