Liz Nugent's Reading List
In March 2020, esteemed Irish crime writer Liz Nugent released her fourth novel, Our Little Cruelties
, to critical acclaim. An absorbing psychological drama, it follows three brothers, Will, Brian and Luke, who repeatedly betray each other – until one of them ends up dead. It’s a thrilling read that’s well worth adding to your list. But what books does a bestselling author recommend? Here’s Liz’s top six Irish titles...
1. Sebastian Barry: A Thousand Moons
First up, A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry. Though it’s a follow-up to Days Without End, Liz notes you don’t need to have read that to enjoy this new offering. "All you need to know”, she says, “is that Winona, a Native American orphan, is being raised by a gay couple. Thomas McNulty is an Irish immigrant, and John Cole fought in the army who slaughtered Winona’s entire family. It’s beautifully written as usual; you can’t go wrong with Sebastian Barry.”
2. Rachael English: The Paper Bracelet
This gripping and emotional novel from Rachael English tells the story of Katie, a former nurse who once worked in an Irish home for unwed mothers. She sets about reuniting the mothers and babies she encountered there. “It’s really fascinating”, says Liz. “Plus, the nurse herself has a secret that isn’t revealed until the end. Very entertaining and enjoyable.”
3. Jane Casey: The Cutting Place
“This is my crime novel of the year”, says Liz. The ninth in Jane Casey’s Maeve Kerrigan series, The Cutting Place sees the policewoman and her partner investigate what goes on behind the closed doors of a gentlemen’s club in London. “It also explores violence against women on a micro and macro level”, adds Liz. “It’s absolutely fantastic.”
4. Marian Keyes: Grown Ups
Told in her inimitable witty style, Grown Ups by Marian Keyes follows the Casey family as their hidden secrets are slowly revealed. “It’s well-told, hilarious and tragic”, says Liz. “Marian is a very clever lady. She covers serious topics like eating disorders and direct provision, but with a very light touch. Even if you haven’t read her before, give this a go. I think you’ll enjoy it.
5. Louise O’Neill: After the Silence
Set on the island of Inisrun, Louise O’Neill’s After the Silence has a ‘whodunnit’ at its core, but as Liz notes, there’s plenty more going on. “It’s about gaslighting”, she says. “A woman is stranded on this island, with a husband who controls her every move. The murder mystery is fantastic too. It certainly kept me guessing until the last page.”
6. Donal Ryan: Strange Flowers
In Donal Ryan’s Strange Flowers, 20-year-old Moll Gladney takes a bus from her home in Tipperary, and disappears. When she returns to her bewildered parents five years later, all’s changed utterly. Liz is clearly a fan: “I love you, Donal!”, she beams. Her only complaint? “You need to write more words!”
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Liz’s new book Our Little Cruelties
was featured on the An Post Irish Book Awards crime fiction shortlist.
Watch Liz talk through her recommendations below!