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About The Book

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of Strange Sally Diamond and Unraveling Oliver—a brilliantly plotted, utterly immersive novel lauded by A.J. Finn—#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window—as “extraordinary…crackles and snaps like a bonfire on a winter’s night.”

My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons's life seems idyllic. Her husband, Andrew, is a prosperous, respected judge; they live in the spacious, comfortable, well-appointed house where she was raised. And she is utterly, obsessively devoted to her son, Laurence—her adored only child, her pride and joy.

But Andrew's murder of Annie Doyle, accidental or not, sets into motion a dark downward spiral. It doesn’t take long for Laurence to suspect that something is very, very wrong in the Fitzsimons household—and he is determined to discover the truth.

For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, Lying in Wait is “a devastating psychological exquisitely uncomfortable, utterly captivating reading experience” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Reading Group Guide

This readers group guide for Lying in Wait includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.

Lydia Fitzsimons appears to have the perfect life: she makes her home with her successful husband and adored son in the beloved mansion that has been in her family for generations. But beneath the surface, there is one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete—and she’s willing to do anything to get what she wants.

But Lydia’s son, Laurence, is not as naïve as she thinks. When he starts to unravel the secret that lies in the garden behind their beautiful house, he sets wheels in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.

Topics and Questions for Discussion

1. From the start of the book, we know respected judge Andrew Fitzsimons and his wife, Lydia, have murdered Annie Doyle. How does this narration style, starting with such a shocking event, affect your understanding of the story? How did you react to the first chapter?

2. Would things have turned out differently for Annie if she had been the pretty sister? Why or why not?

3. Lydia often says that everything she does is for Laurence, for his protection and his benefit. What are Lydia’s true motivations?

4. Consider each of the parent-child relationships in the book. Which parents are good parents in your opinion? How would things have been different for Laurence if his parents acted more like Bridget’s parents, or like Karen and Annie’s parents, or Helen’s mother?

5. How is Laurence’s sense of self affected by the way he views his father and his father’s death? How does this affect him as an adult?

6. What does Lydia's mother's red lipstick mean to her? Why does she put it on after Laurence tells her about Karen?

7. Dessie is obsessively protective of Karen; he tries to explain this as he fears that Karen will end up like Annie. How does Annie’s reputation continue to haunt her family?

8. How is marriage depicted in the novel? Are any of the marriages happy? Which marriages are affected by divorce being illegal in 1980s Ireland?

9. How is Lydia shaped by her sister’s death and her mother’s downfall? Why are reputations and appearances so important to Lydia?

10. Compare and contrast the two sister dynamics in the book: how are Lydia and Diana similar to Annie and Karen? What does being a sister mean to Karen? What does it mean to Lydia?

11. Lydia assumes all children are closest to their mothers. How does the novel prove or disprove her assumption?

12. What role does class play in Laurence's relationships? How much of that influence is inherited versus learned?

13. Laurence is very self-aware, but it takes him a long time to see his mother clearly. Why do you think that is? Why is it difficult for adult children to see their parents’ flaws?

14. How did you react to the scene after Laurence and Karen's dinner with Lydia, the final events of the novel, and Part Three? Were you surprised by the final revelations?

15. Does Lydia get what she wants? Does she get what she deserves? Does anyone else? Why or why not?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Unraveling Oliver is the author’s first novel, for which she won Best Crime Novel at the 2014 Irish Book Awards. If you haven’t already, go back and read Unraveling Oliver with your book club. Compare and contrast the author’s style and the characters in the two books.

2. In Lying in Wait, we only get to know Annie through others’ memories and what was left behind when she departed. If Annie got a chance to tell her own story, what do you think she would say?

3. Who would you cast in the film version of Lying in Wait? How would you cast the sisters?

4. Learn more about the author by visiting her website ( and following her on Twitter @lizzienugent.

About The Author

Photograph by Beta Bajgartova

Liz Nugent has worked in Irish film, theater, and television for most of her adult life. She is an award-winning writer of radio and television drama and has written critically acclaimed short stories both for children and adults, as well as the bestselling novels Unraveling OliverLying in Wait, and Little Cruelties. She lives in Dublin and has won four Irish Book Awards, as well as the James Joyce Medal for Literature. Visit her at or follow her on Twitter at @LizzieNugent.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (June 12, 2018)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501167782

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