Unravelling Oliver is one of those books that I knew I would love as soon as I started reading it.
‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’
These words written by Oliver about what he did to his wife on 12 November 2011 in Dublin. After I had read his words I was chilled, here appears to be a man with no remorse and no motive so what made Oliver batter his wife Alice so badly that she was left in a coma.
The publishers, Penguin Ireland, tell us; ‘Unravelling Oliver, is a complex and elegant study of the making of a sociopath in the tradition of Barbara Vine and Patricia Highsmith,’ and I can’t disagree. As regular readers of my blog know, Barbara Vine was the author who introduced me to the concept of the why someone did it, rather than the whodunit in the mystery novels I already loved and this is a genre which when done well is my favourite type of read.
In this tradition Liz Nugent has employed some of the characters that Oliver Ryan came into contact with during the five decades of his life to reveal small but telling details. Told as if they are giving interviews to the media as monologues, each character gives us a little more insight into Oliver’s character and the events that shaped his life. Barney who was Alice’s boyfriend before Oliver and met him the night he attacked Alice is the first to have his say but there are plenty of others who have encountered Oliver during his life. Throughout the book Oliver, and others who have met him, unwrap the things he thought he had kept hidden and unravel his life, so that as readers we get an insight into the why of this charismatic, but deeply flawed character.
The originality, cleverness and fantastic characters which peel back the layers of Oliver over the years along with evidence of previous events presented in one way by Oliver and another by alternative narrators was a sheer delight to read.
I am delighted that the publishers gave me a copy of this book in return for my honest review as I wouldn’t have wanted to miss meeting Oliver Ryan, you can meet him too when this book is published on 6 March 2014.