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Strange Sally Diamond

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Member Reviews

Liz Nugent is an extraordinary author who always lives up to the hype surrounding the publication of each of her books. She deserves every word of praise heaped upon her and the only fault I can find is that she doesn’t write books quick enough to keep up with my insatiable appetite to read more of her astounding work. Just when you think, oh she couldn’t possibly better her last book or that’s it I’ve found my favourite book by her then she just goes and outdoes herself once again and she has done that here with Strange Sally Diamond.

It’s a tour de force of a read which you will greedily inhale in one sitting and then be left bereft that you did so because you know an indeterminable amount of time is ahead of you as you wait for more stories from this incredibly talented author who is at the top of her game and just gets better and better with each book. I read Strange Sally Diamond long before publication day because I just couldn’t bare to leave it lingering on my Kindle and without doubt, I know come the end of 2023 it will be one of my books of the year. It’s a mightily impressive story that should come with a warning that you will not get any work done because once you pick up this book Sally gets a grip on you and you can’t bare to be away from the character for any length of time.

Every Liz Nugent book always begins with a killer opening line and this one is no different. ’Put me out with the bins’, he said regularly. ‘When I die put me out with the bins. I’ll be dead so, I won’t know any different’. Well those few words certainly had me sitting up and paying attention as that’s literally what Sally did upon the death of her father Thomas Diamond. By doing so she sets in motion a whole chain of remarkable, horrific at times and compelling events which have you gripped from beginning to end. Sally lives in rural Ireland in a remote area and it was just herself and her Dad ever since her mother passed away. From the outset it’s evident that she is a little bit different from everybody else but you love her all the more for this.

The further the story develops and we uncover her history and Sally starts to adapt to life without her father and to welcome in the outside world, the more you understand her social deficiencies and why she literally says and does what she thinks instead of always taking other people’s feelings or opinions into account. Sally craves routine and regularity. At school she was viewed as a weirdo and now when she has to venture to the village for supplies she pretends to be deaf so as not to have to interact with people. But all that is about to change as Sally is now on her own. Yes she does have the help of the local doctor Angela and her partner who become friends and in a way almost surrogate parents to her but Sally has to forge her own path now that she has lost her anchor. Will that be for the best or for the worst?

Sally gets anxious if too may people are around her and things are too noisy or if too many questions are being asked that she does not know the answers to. Her mind works perfectly but she is emotionally disconnected from people, so she finds this new stage in her life packed full of apprehension and fear and navigating her way through it is proving challenging to say the least. It’s never actually said that there is something specifically wrong with Sally or that she has a certain illness. It’s easy enough for the reader to read between the lines and I appreciated that no specific label was assigned to her. Sally’s actions regarding her father’s body at the beginning of the book inspire newspaper headlines around the country and it soon comes to light that Sally once made headlines before and for all the wrong reasons. To go into any detail regarding this would spew forth endless spoilers so I will say no more. Suffice to say this is where the story really gets going and its becomes so dark, depraved, cruel and twisted that just when you think you can’t be shocked again you start a new chapter and a whole new set of revelations and secrets come to the fore that leave you open mouthed in equal amounts of shock, horror, disgust and revulsion.

As Sally learns more of her family history and of certain circumstances, the reader is taken back to the past and from that point the story seamlessly flits between the past and the present and we hear from a new character's perspective which in turns shifts the readers perspective too. I was constantly guessing as to certain things and yes I guessed who was behind sending Sally an item in the post but as for the meaning and the entire story behind it well quite frankly it was simply mind blowing. The whole thing was so twisted and convoluted but in the best possible way that you feel like stopping reading and just applauding the sheer brilliance of Liz’s writing. You wonder how on earth does she come up with such scintillating plots and themes which are so disturbing yet you can’t help but want to read on. The mind boggles at how she does it but constructing brilliantly drawn characters and dealing with such raw, powerful and potent emotions is what Liz does best and this story was no different. Sally is creating a new life for herself and developing friendships and experiencing fun and happiness for the first time but when she learns the truth is this all about to come crashing down? Given the gnarled, hideous and nasty truths and secrets that come to the fore and Sally’s fragile emotional state anyway you’d wonder can she battle through?

I really can’t praise Strange Sally Diamond enough. Yes, you may think when you first read the blurb that this will be really dark and difficult to read and one wouldn’t blame you for thinking so. Yes there are innumerable dark moments, shocking scenes, horrific imagery, abject cruelty and unscrupulous twists and turns and revelations but thanks to the sublime writing of Liz Nugent she has you feeling empathy with ‘some’ of the characters and there are moments of hope and happiness amidst the appalling and ghastly main plot. There is so much light and shade intertwined in moving moments as Sally’s past comes back to haunt her and as the layers are unfolded and the truth comes to light the reader becomes engrossed in a story that will linger long with you once you have reached the final page.

This is a disturbing yet riveting read packed full of fear, trauma, manipulation, damage and mistreatment with a central character who will affect you in so many ways. As for that ending, wow is all I can say, the twists keep coming right until the finale and you are left stunned and almost numb upon completion. As soon as I finished this outstanding read I wanted to get on social media and make sure everyone would read it but as it was several months before publication day that wasn’t possible but now that time has come and I urge you get your hands on a copy of Strange Sally Diamond as soon as you can. You won’t regret it one bit. It’s masterful storytelling which deserves endless awards.

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Oh gosh, this book simply destroyed me.  😞🥺

Thanks NetGalley and Penguin General UK Books for the ARC .  

Like the name suggests, everything about this book is far from normal. Disturbing, dark and eccentric can only come close to describing it.  

🚫No synopsis. Best to head in blind for the ultimate experience.  

Shortly into the book, I discovered how prolific the writing by Nugent is. She has done a phenomenal job of bringing the character of Sally into life. The character development, the multi-layered storyline, the plot complexity, the grave and heavy subject matters that are dealt with here, just show how accomplished this author is. It is not easy to tackle such topics and characters.  

Pretty early on, I had an instinct this was going to be a 5 🌟 read. I really wished it was. But, I have my reasons for rating it 4. 

Sally’s weirdness and anti-social behavior is only the façade. Behind this, there is a horrific past. What Sally experienced as a child is unimaginable and let me tell you, you just can’t digest it once you get to know. Trigger warnings galore, this book is not for everyone. In my view, you need to be mentally prepared and in the right mindset to take it all in - preferably with a lighter read accompanying it.  

I started this book over two weeks ago, but I had to take my time, struggling to get to the finish line. I just couldn’t handle it at some points. Seething with fury, I was spent with disgust, the enormity of the horror, the extreme injustice and unfairness of it all. I realized how precious our freedom was and how we take our life for granted sometimes.  

It was the ending that made me rate this book one star less. I mean I truly hoped that the author would bring in some redemption, retaliation and revenge for the past. But instead, all I got was more injustice and crimes going unpunished, though there was a very good opportunity for righting the wrongs as much as possible.  

No doubt, this is a masterpiece of a book, but I wished the ending was handled better and not left so open without a proper closure, after having put us through this ordeal.

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This is an absolutely amazing read. the plot is dark and certainly raises the questions of natural versus nature, however, still manages to interweave some comical moments. The storyline never became slow and raced along keeping me wanting to read more.

I highly recommend this book you will not be disappointed.

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I previously read Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent and really enjoyed it. When I saw her upcoming book, Strange Sally Diamond on Netgalley I had to request it!

It starts off introducing Sally Diamond who at first I thought was going to be yet another Eleanor Oliphant type character. Trust me when I say it's not that at all and this book takes many dark twisted turns that I was not expecting!

Sally is someone who takes people at their word, so when her father tells her to throw him out with the bins when he dies (which I think is a bit of a plot hole here because he raised Sally and knew she would take that literally) she does exactly that. And then tries to burn him in their incinerator.

This brings a lot of attention onto Sally from the police and media and then it comes to light that Sally has this dark, mysterious past she has no memory of.

And it gets pretty dark!

Plot hole aside I absolutely loved this book and flew through it in a matter of days. I was just completely addicted to it and raced through the pages to uncover what happened to Sally. I loved her as a main character and was rooting for her the whole way through!

This is a really well written, enjoyable ,dark book with strong characterisation, heart and soul and a little bit of humour thrown in. It's not a fast paced, in your face thriller but it is a mysterious and gripping read.

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WoW, This book Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent was superb from start to finish.......I loved it. All her books I have read have been a 5 star review but this one......Just took my breath away and I had to sit there with a coffee at the end and take it all in! WoW!!! Liz writes from her heart and always her characters are brilliant. This book was no different!

Sally Diamond is the main character and she is in her early forty's She cannot understand why what she did was so wrong bit so strange. She only did what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died. Thats normal isn't it!

All of a sudden, Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past who she has no memory of. She begins to discover the horrors of her childhood.......Sally is a recluse and has just started to do small steps into the world for the first time, after her dad died. By making new friends, finding her independence, and learning that people don't always mean what they say. - Sadly she found out the hard way!

Then, messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself,

Who are they??

Sally's life will be thrown into chaos once again . . .

This book was Excellent and I highly recommend it.

Massive Thank you to Penguin UK and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read and review.

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A new novel by Liz Nugent is always a mouthwatering prospect, and Strange Sally Diamond was precisely the literary feast I expected it to be. Beautifully layered, and with an unforgettable lead character, it is for the most part a dark and disturbing read, but one thankfully leavened by splashes of light and gentle humour.

Forty-two year-old Sally Diamond is not like other people. Neurodivergent, a social recluse and inclined to a literal understanding of the world around her, it should come as no surprise when, following her widowed father’s written instructions, she puts his dead body “out with the bins.” Suddenly the police are at the door and Sally is all over the media. But the event is a trigger for something much more momentous: the total unraveling of her roots, her identity and her already precarious life.

What follows, when Sally discovers the awful truth about her origins, makes for utterly compelling reading. You cannot help but warm to her, as she determinedly tries to adjust to this new reality, while seeking to acquire the skills to live independently. I cheered her on as she transformed in front of my eyes from Strange Sally Diamond to Amazing Sally Diamond.

All of this takes place, however, interwoven with a second plot strand. A deeper, uglier layer, filled with menace. A voice that reveals in brutal detail a historic tale of cruelty, tragedy and irrevocably damaged lives. The voice of someone from Sally’s past, who is about to come crashing into her present.

I absolutely loved the masterful blend of light and shade in this novel. Yes, it makes for very uneasy reading at times, but it is exactly this that elevates the story beyond the mediocre. The themes of mental and physical abuse are graphically explored but handled with sensitivity.

It is the ending, though, that had the greatest impact on me. Cleverly balanced, it is hauntingly sad but at the same time redemptive and leaves you with a lot to process and ponder. A book and a character I will not forget in a hurry.

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My favourite word PHENOMENAL, PHENOMENAL, PHENOMENAL. I can't tell you how good this book is, apart from saying it's bloody PHENOMENAL. What a strange but lovable character Sally Diamond is, she is definitely strange but awesome. It's a mysterious, creepy, twisty, one more chapter read. I loved everything about it. I can't wait for my pre-order to come so I can read it all over again. Liz Nugent is brilliant author and her books need to be made into films or series. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT.

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I have been dying to read Strange Sally Diamond ever since I first heard about it – and boy, it didn’t disappoint. This is a book that has so much – at its core it is dark and disturbing, incredibly sad at times, but in amongst that there are heartwarming moments and endearing characters, as well as a sprinkling of humour. I was hooked from the first page and didn’t want to put it down, fully invested as I was in the unconventional world of Sally.

Sally is a 40-something woman who lives in a small Irish village with her adoptive father and, a little “unusual” and lacking social skills, is something of a recluse. When her father dies, she takes him rather too literally and as instructed “puts him out with the bins” – to her horror and surprise, she finds herself at the centre of a media storm and with the police at her door, and suddenly her life begins to unravel as her shocking past is gradually revealed.

Nugent’s skill lies in the way she develops the character of Sally – as a reader you really feel you get to know her and I defy anyone not to root for her. She is naïve, socially awkward and unfiltered, but you feel for her as she tries to navigate her way in an unfamiliar world and has to come to terms with some truly shocking horrific revelations about her past. I loved Sally, even at her most exasperating, and I loved the (often black) humour her character brought, relieving the tension in such a dark tale.

This book has it all – it is original, dark and utterly compelling. I loved it, commend it to anyone – and am off to read more of Nugent’s books because she is clearly a must-buy author.

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Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent
As the book opens Sally Diamond, a forty year old woman, takes her father seriously when he says “Just put me out with the bin.” And that is exactly what she does when he dies. The fact that this was said in jest completely passes Sally by because she does not react to other people in the usual way. She has led a life sheltered from others just with her father for company since the death of her mother.
She hates people touching her and pretends to everyone in her small village that she is deaf so she does not have to engage in conversation. When it becomes obvious to others what Sally has done to her father steps have to be taken and her mother’s GP friend steps in to provide support. Gradually what happened to Sally is revealed through her father’s letters and his case studies of her.
It is apparent that Sally has been terribly damaged both by her kindly stepfather and by what happened to her mother. Sally is an interesting character and we fully understand her inability to manage her feelings and control her anger.
This is an absorbing novel and Sally is a haunting character. As a reader you become completely involved in her story. The other characters are also extremely well drawn.
This novel takes you through a range of emotions and the ending leaves you haunted by the horrors to which Sally has been exposed.
I will be recommending this novel to my various book groups and would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the author, the publishers and Net Galley for the opportunity to read it in return for an honest review.

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Liz Nugent is one of those authors whose books are always a must read. She is always distinctive, never short of compelling and her characters have a unique voice that you simply won’t see replicated anywhere else. Add to that some deep darkness and the reader is drawn into a world they have not experienced before.

Strange Sally Diamond is an excellent example of all these things. Sally is a woman with a literal mind and an incredible back story and this is the story of what happens when Sally’s father dies and she is left alone.

Sally is neuro-divergent and as a consequence she doesn’t know how to carry out the social niceties that make up much of our interactions, nor does she think that they make much sense. But Sally is also intelligent and more than capable of learning. After the death of her father and following the dropping of any charges arising from her unorthodox disposal of his body, Sally learns that her parents have not always been truthful with her. She discovers she was adopted and slowly learns that her father is the one who has chosen, for his own reasons, to keep Sally in the dark about her origins. Living in an isolated part of rural Ireland, Sally has a small circle of neighbours and no real friends but has also been kept away from the truth about who she is and how she came to be there.

Finding out the truth is a lot to come to terms with, and as she reads through the correspondence that details how she joined the Diamonds she is shocked at what she learns.

It is to her credit that she finds a way through everything she learns and begins to live her life properly, even making some friends. But then Sally starts to receive messages and even a gift from a stranger which stirs something in her. Sally’s curiosity has been aroused and she desperately wants to know more about herself and her family.

As the story unfolds, Nugent masterfully weaves together Sally’s traumatic childhood experiences with her present-day investigation into where she came from. The narrative is told through multiple perspectives, including Sally’s own.

Liz Nugent weaves a dark and shocking plot line which reveals more about Sally, her mother and what led to her adoption. Her writing is flawless, pitch perfect and evokes shock, horror and yet great empathy for Sally alongside the hope that she can survive the trauma of all she uncovers.

One of the strengths of Strange Sally Diamond is its complex and well-drawn characters. Sally is a flawed but deeply compelling protagonist, and the supporting cast is equally well-crafted. Nugent does an excellent job of exploring the motivations and psychologies of each character, and as a result, the novel feels rich and multi-layered.

There is more than one dark and vile character in this book and Nugent expands the footprint of this story to cover incidents in New Zealand as she sends us to consider the nature versus nurture argument to allow us to examine whether we are all the product of our upbringing.

Strange Sally Diamond is dark and really disturbing. It pulls you in and never lets go. And yet for all the evil in this book, the goodness that is Sally Diamond shines through. Here Nugent has created a character for whom we have nothing but respect and who we overwhelmingly want to triumph over her adversity.

As the story progresses, Nugent gradually reveals the events that led to Sally’s current state of mind, including traumatic incidents from her childhood and a toxic relationship. Nugent handles these sensitive topics with sensitivity and nuance, never shying away from the uncomfortable truths that lie at the heart of Sally’s story.

Another standout aspect of the book is its vivid and atmospheric setting. Nugent paints a vivid picture of the small Irish town where the story takes place, and her prose is both evocative and haunting.

Liz Nugent’s Strange Sally Diamond is a masterful exploration of the human psyche, told with empathy, insight, and a deep understanding of the complexities of trauma and mental illness.

It is a deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. A thought-provoking read that will appeal to fans of psychological thrillers and character-driven fiction alike. With its intricate plotting, memorable characters, and tense atmosphere, it is an unmissable ‘must read’. No wonder it has been selected as a BBC Two ‘Between the Covers’ Book Club pick this season.

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Wow, this book was one of those that had me gripped from the very first page - I couldn’t put it down and I certainly didn’t know how it would all end!
It was very dark and contained many shocking themes including misogyny and paedophilia but there was also some humour and lightness amongst all the bleakness.
Sally Diamond is a forty something woman who lives alone with her aged father in a remote village in Ireland. She appears to be neurodiverse and takes everything very literally. She does not mix with other people and even feigns deafness to avoid talking to her neighbours.
When her father dies and she tries to incinerate him in their rubbish disposal, following his instructions - “ When I die, put me out with the bins” she draws unwanted attention and publicity to herself. This starts a chain of events which leads her to discover her very dark past. She has always known she was adopted but she was not aware of the circumstances and the fact that she could only remember her life from the age of 7 now strikes her as strange.
As well as Sally’s story the book contains a diary from someone called Peter and it is not clear until further into the story what the relevance of this is.
This was not a light read, it was quite difficult in places. The characters were well drawn and I was really rooting for Sally, hoping she would have a happy ending. Peter was even more complicated and I really didn’t know how I felt about him.
I won’t reveal any more of the plot as it is one of those books that has to be read without much prior knowledge.
I have a feeling that “Strange Sally Diamond” might just be the book everyone is reading in 2023. Highly recommended and definitely five stars.
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for my advance copy.

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Wow this book was fantastic and definitely my favourite read this year so far. It was a gripping and shocking psychological thriller which kept me hooked from start to finish that I read in two days. Sally is such a wonderful, likeable and memorable character that made me laugh. This was also heartbreaking and difficult to read at times but it was wonderfully written and I loved every minute of it.

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From The Cover📖
Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don't always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally's life will be thrown into chaos once again . . .


Upon reading the synopsis this was wasn’t what I was expecting at all it was a very pleasant surprise it is brilliant I couldn’t put it down.

Don’t expect a fluffy coming of age story with a nice ending that you might expect reading the synopsis

I loved Sally and her development this very heartwarming and heartbreaking but what this brilliant was the sinister surprises as the novel progressed.

This book is unique, breathtaking, well written, well plotted, twisty, chilling and deeply disturbing…perfect late night reading

This is first book I’ve read from the author it want be the last

Will be in my top ten books of 2023 without a doubt.

Thank you so much for the ARC

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When Sally put her father out with the rubbish after he had passed away, she couldn't understand why everyone made such a big deal out of it. She'd only done as she was told. Shielded for most of her life by her adoptive parents after a difficult start, Sally has lived a reclusive and sheltered life and doesn't like that the media attention is now on her. Burning her father introduces her to society, where Sally makes friends, reacquaints herself with relatives and starts to uncover secrets of her past and is faced with some hard truths.

Sally is a peculiar character and I'm still not 100% sure how I feel about her. Her story is not only chilling and dark at times, but there is a quirky uniqueness that comes from her "socially different" persona. I sympathised with her majority of the time, but there were occasions that I felt something akin to frustration and irritation.

This is the first time I had read anything by this author. The book description intrigued me and I honestly didn't know what to expect going in. It definitely got me thinking more about the old nature versus nuture debate that often rears its head.

A recommendation for those that love an obscure and oddly likeable character such as Eleanor Oliphant.

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Strange Sally Diamond

Well, what can I say? She’s done it again.

Honestly, there is no other writer out there quite like Liz Nugent ….and there is certainly no other character quite like Strange Sally.

(Where does Ms Nugent get the ideas, that’s what I’d like to know!)
Dark, chilling and sometimes laugh out loud funny, Strange Sally Diamond is a book that will grab you from the first page and will keep you enthralled & entertained to the very end.

Thanks to the publisher & to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this title.

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Sally Diamond has always been strange. But after she does what her father has always told her to do, and puts his body out with the rubbish, Sally and everyone around hear learns just why she might be so strange.

Reading the synopsis of Strange Sally Diamond, I thought I was in for quite a dark read, maybe something Gothic. But whizzing through the first few pages, I couldn’t quite pin down the genre.

I’ve seen mention of the ‘horrors’ of Sally’s childhood, but in my opinion that is insufficient in preparing the reader for some of the content, and trigger warnings should probably be employed.

After the death of her father, Sally begins to navigate adult life on her own for the first time. She meets new friends and just about everyone she encounters is understanding and accepting of her sometimes humorous honesty. But I struggled with these whimsical encounters when then faced with a chapter detailing the really brutal backstory, which is told in a dual narrative.

There are some genuinely funny moments in the book, and Nugent’s style is really readable, but for me, that tone was jarring when interspersed with the crime elements. It sometimes felt like the horrific abuse was downplayed.

Certainly not a heart-warming tale, the tone of the ending was quite out of tune with the rest of the story, and one that may be bothering me for a while.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Strange Sally Diamond
by Liz Nugent

This book goes into very dark territory so quickly that it may not be a spoiler to discuss exactly what territory, but I'll desist. It is getting so many 5 star ratings that it is obviously a hit for most people, but for me, it was a bit disappointing. Given the themes it covers I thought it should evoke harrowing feelings, but I found it dispassionate and unmoving. Perhaps it was the narrative voice that didn't reach me, or the predictability of the story.

I expect more nuance and depth from Liz Nugent's characters, but I can't make any connection with these, even Sally didn't ring true. As an adult survivor of childhood PTSD she reads more like someone presenting with ASD. I found her thoughts and actions quite cliched.

This is a much quicker read than page number would suggest, partly due to short chapters which made me want to push on to just one more...just one more and the dual timelines seem to suggest a big reveal, which sadly never arrives. Is this a thriller or a rollercoaster of suspense as the marketing suggests? There are some elements of good psychological fiction, but to me it lacked tension and suspense.

Publication date: 2nd March 2023
With thanks to #netgalley and #penguingeneral for the ARC

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I was slightly put off by the beginning of this book, thinking what on earth have I signed up for. But then I just couldn't put it down, it is a very dark tale, very disturbing with some moments that will make you laugh, some that will make you cry. All in all I enjoyed the book, apart from the ending, I wanted better for Sally after all she'd been through.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.

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Sally - what a character: Such a different voice and brilliant story telling, Liz is a fabulous insightful writer and this is no different to the quality of her other books & yet also - even better! thank you for letting me read it early :)

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Many thanks to Net Galley and Penguin General UK for an ARC of this book in exchange for a review.
Wow! I loved every single minute of this book. A gripping read from page one, a twisty psychological dramatic read.
Sally Diamond is indeed a little strange, she definitely has no filters, she says exactly what she is thinking. She has no social skills, having been home schooled by her father and totally sheltered from the outside world.
Her father has died at home, Sally had been looking after him, he had told her not to be fussing and just to put him out with the rubbish, Sally takes any instructions literally, so this is exactly what she does. This leads to the police at her door and a huge change to Sally’s world, the media have the story and everyone is suddenly interested in her.
Her father had left her some letters to be read at intervals after his death, through these Sally learns about her traumatic childhood, there is also someone out there trying to get in touch with her. The story is told in the past and present, I could not stop reading, this is a dark read, and in places a little disturbing., brilliant story telling though, her biological father was a sick monster, unfortunately Sally is not the only one who was damaged by his cruelty..
I was rooting for Sally from page one, there are also some other interesting characters. This is definitely a 5 star read once again from Liz Nugent.

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