By Liz Nugent
Published by Penguin Books UK (Paperback - 9 April 2015)
Oliver Ryan is a success story. He lives in the leafy suburbs with his wife, Alice, and their life is one of enviable privilege and ease - enviable until, one evening after supper, Oliver attacks Alice and puts her into a coma.
Afterwards, as everyone tries to make sense of his astonishing act of savagery, Oliver tells his story. So do those whose paths he has crossed over five decades.
Only Oliver knows what he has done to get the life to which he felt entitled. But even he is in for a shock when his past catches up with him.
I read Unravelling Oliver in one sitting, which is how I feel this book should ideally be read to keep up its momentum. There are no superfluous descriptions and there is no unnecessary dialogue. The book is fairly short for a novel, but it flows from beginning to end. I literally couldn't put it down.
The book begins with Oliver, a successful author of children's books, giving his wife a savage beating - something he has never done before and will never do again - leaving her life hanging by a thread. But what has led to this event?
Each chapter of the book is narrated by a different character. These are former friends, relatives and acquaintances who have come into contact with Oliver at different stages in his life, each one recounting their memories of him. It soon becomes clear that Oliver is cold, calculating, dangerous and manipulative. I was glued to the clues about his past as the plot unravels to reveal his life story. There are some excellent and unexpected twists and turns.
This is an amazing debut novel and a book that I won't forget easily.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher and through NetGalley.