I have a great passion for psychological thrillers, and forgive me, but the American ones are usually nonsense. Predictable, repetitious, and melodramatic, they all seem to be variations on a theme with little deviation.
The reading events hosted by fellow blogging friends have always provided an enriching reading experience for me, and when I saw Reading Ireland Month 2022, I knew I had to participate this year. In just a week I will be reading the longlist for the International Booker Prize 2022, so there isn’t a moment to spare to fit in a book by an Irish author.
In searching for a suitable title I found Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent. I was all the more thrilled that our library had a copy. Indeed, there are several editions, each with a different cover, as this novel was first published in Ireland in 2014.
Told through different characters’ perspectives, we come to learn more and more about Oliver Ryan. A handsome, strong, and rugged exterior hides a deeply wounded heart. His father never accepted him, for reasons which are not clear until the end. In fact, when his father remarries, Oliver is sent to a Catholic school from which he can see his own home and the newly ensconced family within. How painful it is that his father never visits, that his clothes are threadbare cast-offs, and he must do without any luxury whatsoever…not that love is a luxury. It is something Oliver needs most of all.
I developed a strong compassion for Oliver, even thought his behavior is terrifying. Unpredictable, suave, and elegant, he has been likened to Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley. But, Oliver has a story all his own. Reading of it, as it is revealed ever so carefully by his wife, his neighbors, his step-brother, and his priest, is a wonderfully compelling and intriguing thriller. I highly recommend it.