This takes place primarily in the 1980s, in Ireland. On the surface, Lydia, her husband Andrew, and her son Laurence appear to have a perfect life. The whole family lives in Lydia's family home, a beautiful mansion. Lydia is a stay-at-home mom who is devoted (overly so) to her son, and Andrew is a respected judge.
This happy life is a facade. Andrew and Lydia hired Annie, a prostitute, to help them with a problem, and when Annie tried to blackmail Andrew he choked her and Lydia finished her off. Lydia proposed that they bury Annie in their garden, a perfectly safe spot since of course they'd never sell off her family home. Unfortunately, the family also has money problems, brought on by Andrew placing his trust in the wrong accountant. Cracks are beginning to appear in their pretty little life, and those cracks widen when Laurence sees news reports about Annie and begins to suspect that his father had something to do with her disappearance.
I picked up an ARC of this during a recent conference. Although it's been out since 2016, it looks like it was released in hardcover earlier this month.
I read this hoping for an exciting and tense thriller. What I got was sometimes achingly slow pacing, characters I didn't care much about, and boredom. I thought this would be about Lydia and Andrew's increasingly futile efforts to hide their part in Annie's murder. I suppose there was a little bit of that, but the story mostly turned out to be about Lydia and her deeply unhealthy attachment to her son (no incest, but there were a couple moments when I worried that that was where Nugent was going with all of this). Everyone's secrets poisoned everything around them, and the ending was just depressing.
There is no justice and goodness to be found here.
The book alternated between chapters from Lydia, Laurence, and Karen's POVs. Karen was Annie's sister, and probably the most sympathetic of the book's more prominent characters. Although I disliked her actions where Bridget was concerned, I wanted things to work out well for her.
Too bad this wasn't that kind of story.
I felt some sympathy for Laurence, who was clearly being suffocated by his mother, but that sympathy eventually evaporated. He was more like his father than his mother - he actually had a bit of a conscience, but it didn't stop him from doing horrible things and then finding ways to rationalize most of it later. I completely gave up on him when I got to the chapter from his POV about the first time he met Karen. This took place a lot later than the publisher's description led me to believe it would, by the way.
The bulk of the book was pretty boring. Despite the fact that Andrew made several enormous mistakes, he and Lydia didn't have to work nearly as hard to hide their tracks as I'd have expected. As time passed (the story took place over the course of about 6 years, I think), it seemed less and less likely that the mystery of Annie's disappearance would ever be solved. The story finally became more tense and interesting near the end, as everyone's lies started to unravel. Unfortunately, the ending was a disappointment.
I'll end this with a warning for readers for whom weight and weight loss in fiction are an issue. At the start of the book, Laurence is fat and bullied because of his weight. Throughout the rest of the story his weigh yo-yos. The descriptions of his weight loss bothered me - he struggled with a relentless appetite, but that appetite had a tendency to magically disappear after he started dieting, and deciding to diet also magically gave him the energy and ability to exercise.
All of this was actually addressed later on in the story, but it took a while, and until then readers had to put up with the implication that all Laurence needed to do to lose weight was exert a bit of willpower.
There were also lots of mentions of Laurence feeling repulsed by his own weight and of Laurence worrying that the women he was with were repulsed by his weight.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
I feel bad for saying this, but I found most of the stories in this volume to be tedious and boring. Heck, I ended up just skimming the last two stories.
The Baby Seller-The first one about a baby seller should have been interesting. But I think due to all of the criminal activities the woman was involved in, the whole story read as muddled. I am still confused about who did what to who as well. Things were very confusing to me as a reader. It still reads to me that perhaps the accused wasn't charged with the other victim who was included in this story. Or maybe I just read it incorrectly. Rule also weirdly includes a story about a woman whose baby was kidnapped and returned and had nothing to do with the main story at all.
Secrets of the Amorous Pizza Man-I felt irritated through this whole story. Maybe because we got bare bones about the victim and the accused in this one. Rule spends more time describing how Poleys (people who have gone to live in the North Pole) interact and details about them. I needed more information in this one.
A Road Trip to Murder-This one was appalling. A white supremacist and his girlfriend go on a killing spree. This one was really rushed I thought and I am still unclear on several things that are portrayed in this one. And weirdly at times Rule seems to show admiration for the accused because he was a stand up guy who didn't want to get his friends in trouble and was intelligent.
Murderous Epitaph for the Beautiful Runaway-There seemed to be a good deal of well what did she expect to happen in this one when I read it. Once again, I doubt Rule meant it to come across that way, but it definitely reads that way to me.
Tracks of a Serial Rapist-I have read this story at least three times now in other volumes.
Take a Lifer Home to Dinner . . . with Murder for Dessert!-Ugh. I didn't even finish this last story. I was really irritated after realizing I read the above story again.
Once again this volume does not hang together very well. This volume is called "Lying in Wait" and the first story shows that these women actually met the woman who ended up killing them. So there was no lying in wait there. I guess there was some element to that in some of the other stories here and there.