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Publisher's Summary

In this "compelling, clever, and dark" (Heat magazine) thriller, a man's shocking act of savagery stuns a local community - and the revelations that follow will keep you gripped until the very end. This work of psychological suspense, a number-one best seller in Ireland, is perfect for fans of Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Ware.
"I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her."
So begins Liz Nugent's astonishing debut novel - a chilling, elegantly crafted, and psychologically astute exploration of the nature of evil.
Oliver Ryan, handsome, charismatic, and successful, has long been married to his devoted wife, Alice. Together they write and illustrate award-winning children's books; their life together is one of enviable privilege and ease - until, one evening after a delightful dinner, Oliver delivers a blow to Alice that renders her unconscious and subsequently beats her into a coma.
In the aftermath of such an unthinkable event, as Alice hovers between life and death, the couple's friends, neighbors, and acquaintances try to understand what could have driven Oliver to commit such a horrific act. As his story unfolds, layers are peeled away to reveal a life of shame, envy, deception, and masterful manipulation.
With its alternating points of view and deft prose, Unraveling Oliver details how an ordinary man can transform into a sociopath.
©2014 Liz Nugent. All rights reserved. Originally published in Ireland in 2014 by Penguin Ireland. (P)2017 Penguin Audiobooks. All rights reserved.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By felicia jones on 09-21-17


I'll try to be brief and refrain from writing a soliloquy. I enjoyed this story, immensely. And I must say that, Oliver was the most complex and disturbed character that I've read about in quite some time. The unraveling of his troubled life was sad, and horrific; to say the least. Which prompts me to wonder - are sociopaths born, or created by circumstances? I enjoyed the narration, and the story was slow in unfolding, but it kept my interest. Just when I thought I can't bear this insensitive jerk anymore, something is revealed about his past; that stops you cold. Oliver is cold, calculating and completely, self-absorbed. Everyone around him is easily manipulated, especially the women. Their either so in love with him him, that their completely docile and submissive, enduring years of misery; or talking themselves into a sexual fantasy world; hoping that one day he'll come around. He won't! His life has so many twist and turns, that its hard to keep up. And in the very end, do you feel sorry for him; or come away thinking; perhaps he has some redeemable qualities after all. Well, written lots of mystery and shocking revelations. well worth the credit.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Margaret on 08-27-17

Like an 80's Freudian novel...

The plot was powered by insane coincidences, which I guessed early on and hoped that wasn't where the book was going, but it did -- in order to explain to us exactly why Oliver did evil. Reminded me strongly of the way novels were structured in the 1980s. But the telling was good enough to hold my attention and I kept listening to hear how the Barney/Eugene story ended.

This struck me as a first try at writing a book. Publishers ultimately reject it, but the writing is good enough for the writer to receive some encouragement, so he or she goes back to the drawing board and the next novel ends up getting published and off to the races we go. The first manuscript ends up buried out back under the apple tree which is exactly where Unraveling Oliver belonged.

I didn't return it because I listened all the way through--so keep my credit. But I won't download/buy another book by Liz Nugent which is exactly why it's a bad idea to publish weak material as an introduction to readers/listeners. Win the battle, lose the war.

Skip this one.

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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