Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .
‘I could probably have been an actress. It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’
Liz Nugent is back with her much anticipated third novel, Skin Deep. Anyone who regularly reads my reviews will know that I have had a bit of a hard time with psychological thrillers recently, but I’m pleased to say that Nugent has re-kindled my love affair with them. Skin Deep is, in true Liz Nugent style, deliciously dark.
Of course, it has that killer first line that we now expect from Nugent and the prologue drags you in as we are introduced to Cordelia Russell. Delia is beautiful but bad. And when I say bad I mean Bad with a capital B! From a small island off the coast of Ireland, to say Delia’s childhood was unconventional would be an understatement. Nugent takes us through Delia’s history in order for us to see how she has got to the position we first see her in in the prologue. Skin Deep is addictive and fascinating as we act as voyeurs through the course of Delia’s life. The saying ‘All that glisters isn’t gold’ is proved correct as we discover the dark core of Delia’s perfect exterior.
Very much a character focused thriller, Delia is despicable, her behaviour is repugnant and it makes Skin Deep oh so compelling. Always fascinated by the nature-nurture debate, it has you wondering how much of Delia’s personality is due to her upbringing? Nugent tells Delia’s story through first person narration via Delia’s perspective, but we are given glimpses of the perspectives of others as every now and again the point of view switches for a chapter which works perfectly. Delia also reflects on the stories that her father told her during her childhood all of which have a moral edge to them and the picture of Delia and her off-kilter moral code is built up perfectly. Skin Deep is the budding psychologist’s dream. Delia is utterly detestable and I loved her for that!
Nugent’s writing is fantastic as she gets you to the very core of Delia. Her portrayal of manipulation and deception is fantastic and I wonder what goes on within Nugent’s mind. The tone is heavy and dark throughout and Nugent uses words like weapons in order for them to stun and shock you. Unable to second guess what will happen next, Nugent has this amazing ability to ensure you are always taken off guard.
Nugent never lets me down and Skin Deep is yet another accomplished novel by this talented author. She has weaved another twisted tale to perfection ensuring her place at the top of my list of favourite authors. Skin Deep takes you for a walk on the darker side of life and it is delectable. An absolute must read for fans of psychological thrillers.
Skin Deep was published on 5 April 2018 by Penguin Ireland. You can get your copy HERE.
A huge thank you to Liz Nugent, Pengiun Books and Netgalley for the copy in exchange for my review.