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Little Cruelties Bets On...

Little Cruelties

November 2020

Liz Nugent’s LITTLE CRUELTIES opens with this line: “All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in a coffin.” It goes on to say, “Three is an odd number, so there had always been two against one, although we all switched sides regularly. Nobody would ever have described us as close.” It’s a great setup, and when I reread it, I saw just how clever it was.

So we meet William, Brian and Luke, and we track their lives in no particular order. They are brothers, but to me much of the time they seemed really alien to each other. And their growing up was quite dysfunctional. But hey, how many thrillers are written about well-functioning families?

William is somewhat famous as an indie film producer, though his ego has him feeling much more successful than he actually is. He has a wife and a daughter, and he cheats on the former. A lot. So much so that she shows him the door. Luke becomes a teen idol after years spent as a religious zealot, until the death of his father unwound that part of his world and made him quite heathen. And Brian is a teacher who lives a life where he’s the classic middle child. He wants what his older brother has, including William’s wife, and feels a need to care for his younger brother. In fact, he spends a lot of time in subtle manipulation of others’ lives for his own benefit.

We creep in and out of their worlds…and oh, did I mention that their mom is a diva --- a washed-up actress with an inflated sense of self? Yes, there’s that too. From your perch as a reader, you will watch their cruelties to one another…again and again.

Did I guess right on who was in the coffin? I am not saying!

Little Cruelties
by Liz Nugent