Our Little Cruelties – Liz Nugent

Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother’s unequal love. As men, the competition continues – for status, money, fame, women …

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

About the Author:

Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.  Unravelling Oliver was published in 2014, hit the number 1 spot for several weeks and won Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

Lying in Wait, published in 2016, went straight to number 1 and was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club. It won the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listeners Choice Award at the Irish Book Awards.  In October 2017, Liz won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award in Literature.

Skin Deep was published in 2018. It also went straight to number 1 in the bestsellers charts and scooped two awards at the An Post Irish Book Awards in Nov ’18: Crime Novel of the Year AND the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listener’s Choice Award.

My Reviews:

I loved Liz Nugent’s previous books especially Skin Deep (see my review here) and Lying in Wait (see my review here) so when I saw that she had a new standalone psychological thriller called Our Little Cruelties being published on 26th March 2020, I jumped at the chance to read an early advance copy thanks to Netgalley.

There was NO DOUBT in my mind that Liz Nugent is a very sick and twisted person in real life who should possibly not be allowed near small children or pets, however having met Liz at Harrogate Crime Festival she is actually very sweet and nice and not scary at all which is why I am shocked at how dark and disturbing her books are… but then you do hear that saying “it’s the quiet ones you should watch out for”.

So, back to the new book.  We start at a funeral – three brothers – 1 dead, the other 2 alive, and who is narrating the story?  Well I can tell you that all 3 brothers narrate the story and take the reader on a journey back and forth from their earliest memories to the current day.  Liz Nugent very cleverly gives each brother their own story to tell in their own words and we flit to and fro, jumping timelines, skipping decades and returning to major events within each part of the book.

None of the brothers are particularly likeable, we have Will, the eldest controlling and selfish brother, Brian, the middle child who has some serious sibling rivalry issues and little Luke, the youngest brother who has mental health illness on top of a really harsh and unloving mother.  The stories are sad and the brothers entangled lives are laid bare to the reader which at times is so uncomfortable you may have to change seats.

Some of the subject matters are hard to read about – I particularly found the mother’s behaviour towards her children disgusting and upsetting.  Reading Luke’s journey into stardom as a young pop star and his decent into mental heath illness and drug/alcohol addiction was moving and emotional and following Will’s career progress and his cavalier attitude to life made me want to hit him over the head with a brick (tied to a chair).

Liz has created several very unlikable but plausible characters and taken the reader on a roller coaster of a journey to find out which of the brothers died and who killed him.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend it to fans of dark, disturbing and dis likeable characters.


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