Skin Deep by Liz Nugent | Book Review | #SkinDeep #PsychologicalThriller

Published by Penguin
Available in ebook and paperback (15 November 2018)
384 pages

   About the Book   

‘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?’

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 . . .

   My Thoughts   

I’m a huge fan of Liz Nugent. I’ve reviewed both her previous books here (Unravelling Oliver) and (Lying in Wait) and loved them both. Skin Deep has only served to confirm her place on my list of ‘must read’ authors.


‘I wondered when rigor mortis would set in, or if it already had.’

What on earth!  Liz Nugent has gained rather a reputation (in a good way) for her killer first lines and now we have another.  Who wouldn’t keep reading on?

As a young girl, Delia O’Flaherty was a precocious child. She was a beauty; everyone told her so. Adored by her father who could see no wrong in her, she got her kicks by playing her parents off against each other and causing as much trouble as she could with her lies. Until one day it all backfired on her.

Cordelia as an adult hadn’t learnt from her mistakes. I didn’t feel that she had any redeeming qualities at all – she was completely self-centred, utterly selfish and only did something if it was for her benefit – I don’t think that anyone who came into contact with her ended up a better person because of it. For all her faults however, I couldn’t help but feel a slight grudging respect for her – and dare I say it, there were times (ok, just a few) when I couldn’t help but like her.  What does that say about me for heavens sake!

As Cordelia grows older and can no longer rely on her looks to get her what she wants, her actions become ever more desperate and ruthless. She seems to be devoid of any feelings of empathy, remorse or shame for her actions but it is this aspect to her character that makes her so intriguing. I think it’s fair to say that the bad guys are always the most interesting of characters.

The story travels from Ireland to England to the South of France – whether the scene is set on the desolate Irish island of Inishcrann where sinister folklore tales occasionally interrupt the story or in the sunnier climes of the Cote d’Azur – each location is so vividly described.

Skin Deep is another fantastic book from Liz Nugent. I never fail to be impressed at how much depth and insight there is to her characters – many of whom you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near in real life.  The one thing you never get from a Nugent book is unnecessary waffle or over description.  Every sentence is carefully constructed for maximum effect.  The prose is succinct and often brutal in its simplicity.

Skin Deep is a dark and quite disturbing read with a final denouement that chilled to the bone. The sheer callousness of the main character may be rather too much to bear for some.  Me – I loved it.  Another stunning book from this very talented author.

   About the Author   

Before becoming a full-time writer, Liz Nugent worked in Irish film, theatre and television. In 2014 her first novel, Unravelling Oliver, was a Number One bestseller and won the Crime Fiction Prize in the 2014 Irish Book Awards. Her second novel, Lying in Wait, went straight to Number One in the Irish bestseller charts, remained there for nearly two months and won her a second IBA. She lives in Dublin with her husband.

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