Everybody thinks they know Oliver Quirke, the internationally successful and charismatic children’s author and loyal husband to Alice, but when Oliver savagely beats Alice into a coma, it becomes clear that nobody knew him at all. Oliver’s history is revealed through the eyes of others: his love rival, an old school friend, his gay admirer, a former lover and his ex-employer, as we slip back in decades to a Catholic boarding school, a French vineyard and a leafy south Dublin avenue, but it is Oliver himself who gradually discloses the full tragic and dark truth behind what makes up a thoroughly modern monster. I TRY TO BE GOOD is a gripping and beautifully controlled debut, an exploration of a random act of savagery that marks Liz Nugent as a vivid new talent in psychological fiction.Actually, that sounds terrific, possibly because it’s putting me in mind for some reason of a Patricia Highsmith novel. It may also be because - as John Connolly so pithily puts it - character is life’s great mystery.
Incidentally, it’s a brave move to offer up a lead character called Quirke in an Irish crime novel when Benjamin Black might have reasonably expected that he had already staked an irrefutable claim to said moniker.
But who, I hear you cry, is Liz Nugent? Over to the blurb elves again:
Born and raised in Dublin, Liz Nugent was attracted to literature and drama from an early age. Liz had an early career as a stage manager working in theatres in Ireland and touring internationally. For the last ten years, Liz has worked as a story associate for ‘Fair City’ in RTÉ, co-wrote a six-part children’s adventure series for TG4 called ‘The Resistors’ and a radio play for RTE Radio 1 called ‘Campus’. She has been shortlisted for the Francis McManus short story competition and has written children’s stories for the edification of her fifteen nephews and nieces.So there you have it. The picture credit, by the way, goes to my good friend (and superb photographer) Beta Bajgartova, whose website can be found here.