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Strange Sally Diamond Bets On...

Strange Sally Diamond

August 2023

I have been a fan of Liz Nugent’s books since her debut, UNRAVELING OLIVER. So when STRANGE SALLY DIAMOND got on my radar, I had a feeling that I would be in for a terrific psychological thriller. And boy, did it deliver, with a very interesting premise and execution.

As the book opens, Sally’s father has passed away, and she has followed the instructions that he told her in one of their conversations --- that after he died, she should put him out in the bin. And well, since garbage is typically burned, she takes steps to try to burn him. Readers quickly see that Sally has some challenges with taking things literally. She clocks in on the neurodiverse spectrum and does not always get an implied joke. From this action, the town is now paying attention to Sally.

Soon we learn a lot more about Sally, including that the kind man she called her father was actually her adoptive father. He was a doctor who worked with her, along with his wife, when she was taken from a brutally tough situation. Her birth mother had been kidnapped at a very young age; by the time both were rescued, they had been traumatized for years. Sally was born from anything but a loving relationship.

I know, you are thinking: Carol, you are betting that I am going to like this book? Yes, I am. Because in Liz’s hands, the story builds and builds, getting more complex with every chapter as we learn more about Sally’s life --- and her past. There is a teddy bear that has meaning to her and becomes something of a character in the book. And there is someone who also was part of her early days who has a slow reveal. Sally is not telling us the story, but things are being discovered from letters she was left by her adoptive father and others stirring her memories.

We are discovering things along with Sally, who has only vague thoughts about her early life. The way it all gets set up and comes together is what makes the book work. It’s a “one more chapter” kind of novel.

It’s hard to believe that Liz did not plot out this well-tuned thriller. By the way, there is no overt violence on the page. There are setups, but where you head with them…well, that’s just saying something about you and your imagination. Things are implied, yes. But spelled out? Um, not really.

I had the chance to discuss STRANGE SALLY DIAMOND with Liz in a “Bookreporter Talks To” interview, and we covered a lot of ground. It definitely is worth watching or listening to, and we give nothing away to spoil your read.

Strange Sally Diamond
by Liz Nugent