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Not for the first time recently I find myself debating what constitutes a thriller. This one certainly opens with a real punch of an opening line which I won't quote because it is one of the most powerful moments in the book and one of the biggest "signals" towards the gradual unravelling of Oliver. It's a single sentence that with a jolt takes you from your comfortable listening place into the mind of Oliver. In those few words I realised that I was in the hands of a talented author. What follows is a classy set of narrators who take us through decades of history before and after that event to gradually disentangle the web of Oliver's life.
It is simply a story and does not moralise or instruct, it merely guides us through a classic question of nature versus nurture. It's largely very gentle but I found that the structure of the book was very well suited to the larger cast of narrators. Mostly, and I am no great judge of accents, I felt they gave an authentic glimpse into an Ireland when prejudices against homosexuality and single mothers was considerably more prevalent. It revealed how Oliver was forged between neglect, constraint and opportunity and where it took him and those he knew.
I don't actually want to write more as this is a fairly brief and mostly gentle "human" tale that I really enjoyed. The central character is one you will likely develop very strong views about though they will fluctuate because in the final analysis the purpose of the story is to form a judgement on him. I'd call it engaging, original and very well crafted. I wouldn't personally call it a "thriller", more of a "drama" as Nugent's approach to weaving the threads of her story is actually quite subtle in a mesmerising fashion.
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