Book Review: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent

Despite the fact that there are millions (probably even billions) of books in this world, an absolute page turner does not lie between the every cover. Therefore, when I find a rare gem, I just have to share it.

Although I am relatively late to the bandwagon on this one, I have been pushing Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent down the throats of everyone since I read it a few weeks ago. Unravelling Oliver tells the story of charming, successful author Oliver Ryan who is admired by everyone, that is until he viciously beats his wife Alice into a coma. The book tells Oliver’s story from his point of view, but also from the point of view of several other characters who try to make sense of what has happened.

I absolutely loved how Oliver’s character unfolded, but it also left me with a plethora of mixed feelings. The opening sentence – “I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.” – just screams monster. And for a lot of the book, Oliver does appear to be just that, a monster. However, as the story progresses and we learn more and more of his back story, a certain softening happens, an almost understanding. This makes our opinion of Oliver less harsh than it was in the beginning and, to be honest, I didn’t like feeling this way. It was an insight to the real world when we see people forgiven, and even supported, following terrible acts as they are usually a “person of good standing”. 

The other characters are not as interesting. Although we do catch a glimpse of their personalities, I do believe that their main purpose is for us to learn more about Oliver. Nevertheless, while they don’t stand solidly on their own, having the different characters really gives the reader a rounded perspective of Oliver.

What I most liked about this book was that it was a crime story with a difference. Admittedly, since I read Gone Girl, very few books have stood up against it in terms of originality and surprise. Beyond this being a unique story, I believe Nugent’s writing style made it stand out. It is simplistic but informative and captive. There is no big build up, I feel, which makes the twists come as an even bigger surprise. 

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and can’t recommend it enough. I have already laid my hands on Nugent’s Lying in Wait and hope to be back with another glowing review soon.

Book Review: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent
Book Review: Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent


  1. I really enjoyed the book too and your summing up of how your feelings changed over time is spot on for me too! I haven’t read ‘Lying in Wait’ yet, but it’s on my list after this one!

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