“An extraordinary novel. Lying in Wait crackles and snaps like a bonfire on a winter’s night; you shudder even as you draw closer to it. Spellbinding.” —A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre” (Sunday Mirror).
This readers group guide for Lying in Waitincludes 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 (http://www.liznugent.ie/) and following her on Twitter @lizzienugent.
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 novels Unraveling Oliver and Lying in Wait. She lives in Dublin. Visit her at LizNugent.ie or follow her on Twitter at @Lizzienugent.
“An extraordinary novel. Lying in Wait crackles and snaps like a bonfire on a winter’s night; you shudder even as you draw closer to it. Spellbinding.”
– A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window
“Taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book. It has the eeriness of ‘The Turn of the Screw;’ but as these screws turn, a mighty tension takes hold. Masterly.”
– Sebastian Barry, author of Days Without End
“A tense, taut, almost gothic thriller…impossible to stop reading.”
– Marian Keyes, New York Times bestselling author
"Like Unraveling Oliver (2017), this is a whydunit, not a whodunit, and the real meat lies in Nugent's exploration of motherhood, mental illness, and what could drive a person to murder... A page-turner chock full of lies and betrayals and a very creepy mother-son relationship."
– Kirkus Reviews
"A devastating psychological thriller... Lydia is the most intriguing puzzle; equal parts victim and villain, she simultaneously inspires pity, outrage, and horror. The result is an exquisitely uncomfortable, utterly captivating reading experience."
– Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)
"[A] chilling tale of the sociopathic mind… Readers who love sinister psychological thrillers will tear through these pages."
– Library Journal (starred review)
“Nugent introduces an unforgettable cast of characters in this tour de force…astonishing....everyone should grab it the second it appears."
– Booklist (starred review)
“[A] dark, captivating psychological thriller.”
– Crime by the Book
"Just when you think you have things figured out, Nugent throws everything off-kilter again. All of the primary characters --- including the dead woman, Annie --- are complicated and well-rounded...and defy easy categorization as “villain” or “hero.” Readers who first encountered Nugent’s work only recently will be thrilled with this new-to-us thriller --- and will be thronging for even more of her excellent work to make its way across the pond."
"Though we know Lydia and Andrew Fitzsimmons’ big secret by the end of the first sentence of Nugent’s book, it’s why they did it that initially remains a mystery...The secret may be out, but the intrigue remains."
– Brit + Co
"Nugent tells a brilliant tale—taut, horrifying, chilling...the plot is impossible to resist and the tale is beautifully written...If you like psychological thrillers, “Lying in Wait” is perfect."
– Fredericksburg Freelance Star
"Perfect for those who have already read A Woman in the Window and are looking for a new gripping read."
– The Amazon Book Review
"Liz Nugent, whose debut novel, Unraveling Oliver, earned high critical praise, has upped her game here with a darkly twisted tale of murder, lies and secrets best left buried."
"Electrifying ... a chilling narrative with an unexpected ending that will take your breath away."
“Darkly funny, creepy, and has one of the most disturbing endings I’ve ever read!”
– Robyn Harding, international bestselling author of The Party
"This book is a brutal as it is beautiful, with the year's most haunting ending."