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Our Little Cruelties

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Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother's unequal love. As men, the competition continues - for status, money, fame, women ...

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

384 pages, Paperback

First published March 26, 2020

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About the author

Liz Nugent

8 books2,279 followers
Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.

Unravelling Oliver was published in 2014, hit the number 1 spot for several weeks and won Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards.

Lying in Wait, published in 2016, went straight to number 1 and was chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club. It won the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listeners Choice Award at the Irish Book Awards.

In October 2017, Liz won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award in Literature.

Skin Deep was published in 2018. It also went straight to number 1 in the bestsellers charts and scooped two awards at the An Post Irish Book Awards in Nov '18: Crime Novel of the Year AND the Radio 1 Ryan Tubridy Listener's Choice Award.

Little Cruelties (Our Little Cruelties) was published in 2020. Another number 1 bestseller, it topped the charts for fifteen weeks, was nominated for Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, long listed for a CWA award at Theakston Crime Festival at Harrogate. It was listed as one of the most recommended thrillers of the Year by the New York Times.
Liz was presented with the James Joyce Medal for Literature (via Zoom!) in February 21 and was a Guest of Honour at Iceland Noir in November 21.

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5 stars
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237 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,587 reviews
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,607 reviews24.8k followers
February 17, 2020
Liz Nugent's latest psychological thriller gives us the Drumm family, the selfish and narcissistic show biz mother, Melissa Craig and her three sons. Mommie dearest overtly favours her eldest, William, a film producer, an entitled, nasty misogynist piece of work, is indifferent to the mean and grasping Brian, and is unbelievably cruel to her youngest, the fragile pop star Luke, ensuring that his mental health issues dog him throughout his life. The book opens with the funeral of one of the brothers, we are not told whose, and in a non-linear narrative, the brothers perspective on the events in their lives is laid bare, it culminates in a shocking finale that reveals which one dies. William and Brian are unencumbered by anything in the way of scruples or morality, behaving so badly that I wanted to biff them hard over their heads with the heaviest of frying pans, the vulnerable Luke elicited a little more of my sympathy. A deranged family drama with some dark humour, of murder, cruelties, betrayal, addictions, adultery, mental health issues, fame, rivalries, and #MeToo issues. Once again Nugent has me compulsively enthralled by the most despicable of brothers in this car crash of a family! Many thanks to Penguin UK for an ARC.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,204 reviews40.9k followers
May 16, 2023
The bloody Drumm brothers horrified and disturbed the hell of me more than Grimm brothers:
This is truly delicious, mind blowing, detailed, conflict, brain cell punching, twisty, nerve bending, fantastic masterpiece!

Three flawed, dirty, irritating brothers with dark secrets, both of them are ready to stab the other behind, reveal the dirty skeletons they hid in the closets for centuries.

Now three of them at the funeral and one of them is already in the coffin. Who is in the coffin? Who is responsible of the murder?

Do you want to hear the events from their perspectives throughout the years: You gotta get ready to have a time travel from 70’s to present time. But keep your attention and focus clear and intact because you’re going back and forth between different time zones and read the same events from three different perspectives and you may need to stay objective about the characters’ behaviors and natures.

This family seems like consisted of talented celebrities: Mother Melissa is show band singer. (she’s combination of the meanest and narcissistic characters Jessica Lange played at AHS) The elder boy Will is filmmaker, little brother Luke is rock star and Brian is talent manager(he represents his own brother). They’ve been meeting traditional Sunday brunches and sarcastically criticize each other’s lives including their professions, private lives embellished with condescending comments. Especially beef between Brian and Will turn into pissing contest at each time they open their mouths.

I know especially two of them are true dirty rotten scumbags: yes Will and Brian: I’m talking about you. It’s so hard to restrain yourself not to visualize kicking their asses and spitting on their faces. They were disgraceful brothers and the little brother (their ages were so close to each other but they were still ruthless SOBs- yes, Melissa you earned that insult at the most chapters, especially because of your shitty treatment to your little boy-) Luke who is literally fighting with depression, mental illness and burden of her mother’s verbal and mental abuse. He is the only emotional one of the trio. He is broken, sensitive, he seems like he may crumble into the pieces, suffering from eternal pain.

I don’t want to give more spoilers but I have to admit at too many parts of the book this family became more horrifying than the Succession’s The Roys, Haunting of Hill House’s The Crains family, Empire’s the Lyons. Oh boy, what am I talking about? They’re worse than Shameless’ Gallaghers, GOT’s Lannisters and the Sopranos! Especially Will and Brian did so many merciless, despicable, unbelievably jaw dropping things to his brothers. Will is true evil and Brian is sneaky, calculating Mr. Scrouge and distorted Robin Hood( stealing from rich giving to himself!) and poor Luke was just trying to fight with the demons, using different methods: religion, music, alcohol, drugs, more dysfunctional romantic involvements. WHO NEEDS ENEMIES WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE A FAMILY LIKE THAT!

Till the last pages, the tension grows on you, tightens your throat and more dirty, disgusting secrets come out. Three brothers finally come clean at the end but when there is too much mess to be cleaned.
The ending was well-played and jaw dropping! So I’m shutting my mouth. This book already took its place at the top ten thrillers of 2020 I truly adored. It was published as “Our Little Cruelties” and it is republishing as “Little Cruelties”.

Overall: Impeccable character development, gripping, exciting, unputdownable story-telling, shocking, twisty revelations and ticking bomb, high tension story-building with perfect ending. Five gazillion stars well deserved and all the previous works of the author are already added to TBR monster.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books, Gallery/Scout Press for sharing this incredible ARC with me in exchange of my honest review.
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,385 reviews7,088 followers
February 15, 2021
*4.5 stars *

This is by anyone's standards a brilliantly written novel. Highly original, with exceptionally well-drawn characters.

It is the story of a Dublin family, in which there are three brothers, William, Brian and Luke. The boys are the children of a famous show band singer, with access to all glitterati show biz personalities. Their mother is known professionally as Melissa, although by her birth family as Moll.

In the eighties, Bob Dylan held a huge concert in Dublin. Melissa has an entree into all the VIP areas and tells William and Brian she will take them to the concert. Luke, who is 13, will have to go into the creche. William thinks this is totally unfair, but Luke is used to being unfairly treated by his mother and is much closer to his father, who has an ordinary office job and does all the family chores. Luke has many friends in the creche including some young girls who love to hear him sing. He is extremely good at networking himself.

As the years pass, their father dies young of prostate cancer, apparently not greatly mourned by Melissa. William is happily married to Susan and has a much-loved daughter, Daisy, and Luke (to everyone's astonishment), has become a world-famous pop star with more money than the rest of them put together. Brian makes his money by acting as an agent for his famous brothers, in the process swindling them out of a great deal of money. He also tries to take over Daisy's life, making her into a pop star, which ends in her suffering from bulimia. Susan and William part company. Luke becomes mentally ill and has to have prolonged sessions of therapy, eventually losing most of his money.

The narrative jumps about in time a great deal, which can be confusing, but the brilliance of this novel lies in the way it is told by each brother in turn, leading to the eventual denouement. Very enjoyable.
May 17, 2020
A psychological drama that paints the most magnificently crafted characters with family interactions that are fascinating, absorbing and downright shocking. The Drumm family, led by their mother Melissa, with her three sons, Will, Brian and Luke, seem to be adept at handing out little cruelties (or not so little) to everyone around them, especially each other. A seriously dysfunctional family that has lived the dream in the media industry and paid a heavy price for it.

The story starts at the funeral of one of the brothers, not to be revealed until the end, although the suggestion is that one of the other brothers is responsible for the death.
“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.”
There are four distinct parts to the book, the first three parts see each of the brothers tell their story from childhood hopping about through time. The fourth part is backwards and forwards interplay with each brother as the pace mounts to the incident we’ve been waiting for. This is masterfully written by Liz Nugent and her skill abounds as she deftly controls the narrative, the plot and the multiple perspectives on decisive moments.

Our Little Cruelties is a monument to character development, full of light and shade, complex personalities, and psychological turmoil, which is just mind-blowing in its scope. Melissa is a narcissist who is cruel in her selective treatment of her children, with Will being her favourite and no attempt is made to hide it, especially from Luke whom she almost hates. Will is a film producer, self-centred, a womaniser, and a family man to wife Susan and his daughter Daisy. Brian is mean, ruthless, always looking to screw someone out of money, and defrauds his younger brother Luke out of his house, all while representing him during his popstar days. Luke has a natural media chemistry, a look, and a voice that rockets him to the top of the charts although he is a drug addict, alcoholic and suffers from deep mental health issues. Luke is the self-destructive guy that your heart bleeds for because deep down he is loving, kind, forgiving, vulnerable and lonely, he struggles throughout his life in the knowledge that his mother made it abundantly clear she didn’t care for him.

The fabulous way the book is written enables major incidents in the brothers’ lives to have a unique perspective from each brother, and the unreliable accounts stemming from each twisted personality provides multiple lenses that entice us to look deeper to discover the truth. The turbulence of their lives is fascinating but if I have one criticism is that the achievements and circumstances the brothers find themselves in, covers everything life could throw at mankind and the sheer volume of it lessens the believability. I’m not sure this will be an issue for everyone but it just didn’t feel flawless for me and quite overplayed.

This is a book a read with my wonderful reading buddy Beata which always adds extra pleasure. I rate the book 3.5 stars and would recommend reading it. Many thanks to Penguin Books and NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC copy of the book in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jayme.
1,141 reviews1,902 followers
November 11, 2020
There have been some really GREAT thrillers this year.

Unfortunately, though, this one does NOT make that list for me.

This is a dysfunctional family drama-not the THRILLER, that I was expecting!

The book opens with a funeral.
Three brothers in attendance but one is in the coffin.

You are reading to find out WHO it is, HOW he died, and WHY.

Each brother will tell you in his own voice, his perception of his childhood years, his early adult life, and his life in the present day-this is a dysfunctional family drama.

A character study of one DESPICABLE brother after another-all of the ways they were mistreated , and all of the ways they mistreated others.


I was bored.

I don’t have to like the characters to enjoy a story....
BUT, I do have to like the story to become invested in the outcome.

I couldn’t care less about finding out WHO was in the coffin!

This book is available now in the UK, under the title “Our Little Cruelties”
and is now available in the U.S. under this title.

Thank you to the Publisher for my gifted copy. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,535 reviews32.6k followers
October 24, 2020
everything you need to know about this book is in the title and the synopsis.

the story begins with a funeral, but we dont know whose and we dont know why. the vast majority of the book is a reflection on the lives of each of the brothers, how they waned in and out of their relationships with each other, and the little cruelties they have both endured and inflicted throughout their lives.

and because the funeral doesnt come back into play until the last 20 pages or so, i wouldnt call this a mystery or a thriller. i never felt any suspense or anticipation for some big reveal. this is definitely a psychological character study, one that is intricately woven across three different lives. and i think this is some of LN strongest writing thus far.

this is definitely a book for those who dont mind a slower and less exciting take on the genre and enjoy more character focused narratives.

thank you to gallery books for the ARC!

4 stars
Profile Image for Debra .
2,296 reviews35k followers
November 2, 2020
A Funeral, three Brothers - two alive, one dead. What a mess.

This book is told through the POV of the three brothers: William, Brian and Luke. William is a successful film producer; Luke is a worldwide pop star and Brian is a teacher who also manages Luke's career and finances. They could be typical normal guys, but they are not! They are all a mess in varying degrees. Each doing "little cruelties" to each other. Betrayal after betrayal. They give new meaning to the term "dysfunctional family"

The only real mystery in the book is the identity of the dead brother. You will not know his identity until the end. The book takes you from the funeral and moves back in time to their childhood and throughout their lives, with each sharing their POV. We learn secrets, watch them lie, watch them manipulate, watch them love, watch them fall apart, watch them get back on their feet, only to fall apart again.

This book touches on several things: family, addiction, mental illness, greed, infidelity, the pros and cons of fame, money, sibling rivalry, and even the #METoo movement.

Will you like these characters? Probably not, although there was one, I felt sorry more than his brothers. But their relationships were fascinating. Plus, their mother was a whole other can of beans as was each's relationship with her.

The storytelling was a little bit of a mess in that it was all over the place, but that felt right as these brothers were all over the place as well. I thought Nugent did a good job keeping the reader in the dark with the "mystery" narrator who tells the story in the beginning. We do not know who is telling the story, so you have to hang in with them on the chaotic ride/journey of their lives until the end of the book.

This is not your typical mystery/suspense/thriller book. It is not fast paced. It is more character driven. As I stated earlier, the real mystery is who is dead, why, how and who is to blame? Otherwise it is a decent into the character's lives, those in their lives, and what motivates them.

Thank you to Gallery/Scout Press and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Kim ~ It’s All About the Thrill.
542 reviews619 followers
May 26, 2020
Well... 😬😩 Guys it is hurting my heart to give this 3 stars, it really is. I always try to be honest, even if I don't want to be! Look I LOVE Liz Nugent's books! I am obsessed with them. Unraveling Oliver was my favorite book of the year, two years ago. This writer is brilliant! I just didn't mesh well with this book and I think I know why. I just had a different expectation built up from my experience with her last three books. Her writing style is dark, twisted and some super snarky humor. I LOVE that super snarky dark side. This book was missing that. So she took a different approach- get over it. I just had trouble doing so because, I just expected something different. I look forward to that snark like a kid on Xmas morning!

The books starts out with a bang- normal Liz Nugent fashion. We are at a funeral with a family of brothers- William, Luke and Brian...but one of them isn't standing upright..Yep you got it, one of them is in the casket. How did he get there and which one is it? Well that is what this story is all about. This story is alot of family drama...drugs, mental illness, cheating, lying...all the good stuff! The characters are not likable- at all, which is fine by me, that always intrigues me.

Overall it was an okay read, but I thought the story lacked alot of suspense. It wasn't the normal page turner her books normally are for me. I would classify this as a family drama vs the normal psychological mind bending thriller I have seen from her in the past. It did pick up the last part of the book but not enough to bump it up any further in the ratings. I was expecting a smashing ending but it fell a bit flat. This was a buddy read and our group was split down the middle with this one!

I adore her writing and I am really looking forward to what she comes out with next! Thank you so much to Gallery/Scout Press for this ARC.
Profile Image for Sumit RK.
492 reviews459 followers
June 23, 2020
” Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin” “

The opening line of the novel is enough to grab your attention and it manages to hold your attention till the end. First thing first, though classified as a mystery thriller, Our Little Cruelties is more of a family drama. The main mystery is the identity of the dead brother but it’s not critical to the main story. This is a dark, disturbing story of a dysfunctional family of three brothers Will, Brian, and Luke, and their twisted relationship with their mother and with each other, starting from their childhood through to the rest of their lives.

Will, Brian, and Luke grow up in a dysfunctional family. Of all the dysfunctional families I have read over the years, this has to be the worst of the lot. Will, the eldest and most successful brother, Brian, the middle child who is a perennial loser and Luke, the youngest, who has probably the most exciting life journey of all, is more of rivals and competitors than brothers. As they grow up and go ahead in their different careers, the 3 brothers often find themselves, crossing each other’s paths, always with disastrous results.

The story is narrated by the three Drumm brothers, told from their individual perspectives. Covering one brother’s story at a time, their stories move forward and back again in a random manner. The author skillfully manages to keep the narrative running smoothly as keeping track of individual events may prove tough. The story tracks their bitter relationship full of betrayals, adultery, rivalries, and full-blown rivalry towards each other. Though disturbing at times, I found the Drumm’s family history immensely readable.

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent is a dark story full of cruel individuals, doing despicable things to each other. So, it’s not a surprise that none of the characters are likable but Liz Nugent has kept the readers engaged despite the characters. The narrative is engaging and you keep reading on. There are shades of dark humor, probably to lighten the mood. The alternating point of view make the story more unpredictable.

The stories of brothers often overlap and feel repetitive; especially when each brother’s story starts right from the beginning. As none of the characters are likable, you tend to not care about them over time, and that includes the final reveal. The final third act feels unnecessarily stretched with a lukewarm ending.

Overall, Our Little Cruelties is more of a family drama than a psychological thriller. If you enjoy dark & twisted family dramas, you will enjoy this one.

Many thanks to the publishers' Penguin Ireland and Netgalley for the ARC.

Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,977 reviews1,510 followers
December 19, 2019
Think your family might be somewhat dysfunctional? Think again. The Drumm family puts the dys into functional. The book starts at a funeral which is a cliffhanger as until the end we don’t know whose it is except that it’s one of the Drumm brothers. They’re a talented bunch which they probably inherit from their mother who had success as a show band singer. The eldest Brian is an agent, Will is a filmmaker and Luke has had a successful music career. They are a colourful and intriguing family as becomes clear as each brother gives their perspective on their lives and stories. This is told non-chronologically which from a writer less skilled than Liz Nugent this could have been an unholy mess but it works brilliantly and I think it makes their stories much more interesting.

The characters are so well created and crafted and though they are not all likeable by any means, you get a real insight into what makes them tick and the root of many of their issues lies with their mother Melissa. For Brian it’s money, he makes Scrooge and Silas Marner look like big spenders. He’s not likeable as he can be jealous, belligerent and smug. Will is a womaniser which gets him into untold trouble. Luke is the most likeable, he’s very damaged, vulnerable and has serious mental health issues. The boys are truly awful to each other but especially to Luke and some of their ‘little cruelties’ aren’t so little. I really like the fact that the three boys narrate the story because you can check the veracity of their accounts and see if they are reliable and trustworthy.

This is a very well written, suspense family drama. The pacing is good and there are plenty of revelations and twists throughout. However, it’s the ending that firmly places this in the 5 star category because it’s mind blowing, it makes you gasp and your jaw drop it’s so shocking.

Overall, this is another outstanding novel from Liz Nugent who is an extremely talented writer, creating stories that are hard to put down. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for the ARC.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
July 1, 2020
A disappointing Family drama where a bunch of dislikable characters take precedence over the plot, so much so that by the end of the novel I was very happy to part company with the Drumm brothers. A dysfunctional family that became monotonous and annoying and just didn't make for compelling reading.

I am fan of Liz Nugent’s novels as she is known for her smart, dark and brilliant story telling, her opening lines are always terrific one liners that draws the reader in and her opening line in Our Little Cruelties creates the suspense and darkness I have come to expect from a Liz Nugent Novel. . All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in the Coffin.

Unfortunately all the characters in this novel were just too loathsome and detestable with no saving graces, that they made for boring and repetitive reading. While I enjoy dislikable characters in novels they need to be interesting and entertaining and unfortunately none of the Drumm brothers or indeed any of the characters had any of these qualities.

Each of the brothers narrate a chapter from their prospective and their stories tended to overlap and became repetitive. It felt a little like ground hog day and I didn't enjoy this aspect of the storytelling.
The plot had none of the suspense or cleverness of her past novels and I found the twists and turns way too exaggerated to be believable. So much happens in this family that it just became farcical. I did finish the novel but this one isn’t going to make my favourites shelf.

My favourites by this author are ;
Unraveling Oliver Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent 4 Stars
Lying in Wait Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent 4 Stars
Skin Deep Skin Deep by Liz Nugent 5 Stars

Many readers are loving this one and if you enjoy family dramas with dislikable and horrible characters then you may well enjoy this one too and as is the case with all books, we all react differently.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday is (reluctantly) on hiatus.
1,975 reviews2,042 followers
March 31, 2020
EXCERPT: All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in the coffin.

Three is an odd number so there had always been two against one, although we all switched sides regularly. Nobody would ever describe us as close.

As the service began, I became tearful. Without ever realising it, I had inherited my mother's acting abilities. My living brother and I stood, side by side, at the top of the crematorium while people lied to us about what a brilliant man our brother had been, all the usual meaningless cliches.

His death was sudden. Horrific. The investigation was quick and conclusive. I was not a suspect. I had a sense of freedom and relief I hadn't felt in quite a while. I didn't expect that this air of serenity would last. But I thought I would enjoy it while it did.

My surviving brother was unreadable to me. Maybe he was thinking of our brother's smashed and broken body. Still, even he must have known that this outcome was all for the best.

Daisy sat in the pew behind us. She seemed not only to be aware of her surroundings, fidgeting and whispering to herself. I caught my brother's eye as her babbling became audible and people began to notice. He reached out and asked her to join us. That reaching out of his hand made me shudder momentarily. She seemed to return to reality and moved to stand between us without any argument. We both attempted to put a proprietal arm around her, but she shrugged us off. We brothers looked at each other. The old rivalry resurfaced.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin.

Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother's unequal love. As men, the competition continues - for status, money, fame, women ...

They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead.

But which brother killed him?

MY THOUGHTS: There is a passage in this book that says '...here I was, a millionaire with a hot young girlfriend, the most successful Irish film producer of all time with every material possession one could want within my grasp, crying and whining like a child.' that, for me, sums up what I managed to read of this book. I dnfed at 42%, unable to stand the infantile rivalry and whining any longer.

If I had wanted to listen to three grown men bitch, whine, play oneupmanship and fight, I would have invited my own three brothers to visit.

None of the characters are at all likeable. And the plot was slow and, sorry to say this, boring. The story is told from the pov of William (hates to be called Willy), the eldest brother and one of the most narcissistic characters I have encountered in a long time. The thing that really annoyed me was the constant chopping and changing, with no apparent logic, between timelines.

I know I am alone in my one star rating, but I honestly could not bear to read one more word.

Reading is a personal and subjective experience, and what appeals to one may not please another. So if you enjoyed the excerpt from Our Little Cruelties, and the plot outline appeals, please do go ahead and read it.


#OurLittleCruelties #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Liz Nugent worked as a stage manager in theatres in Ireland and toured internationally before writing extensively for radio and television drama.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Books UK for providing a digital ARC of Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews39 followers
June 24, 2020
“The Drumms sounded like characters from a Greek tragedy or the shoddiest soap opera there ever was”.

In much the same way that I loved Joyce Carol Oats book, “Night, Sleep, Death, and The Stars”....
I loved this novel > marveling the storytelling > marveling the characters....
contemplating....difficulties....struggles...worries...moral values...human flaws and decency....and life experiences.

I read a little each morning ....pausing to look out the window savoring each page - appreciating Liz Nugent’s talents.

Liz Nugent is a highly favorite ‘ psychological-domestic-suspense’ writer for me.
I’ve read all her books: “Unraveling Oliver”, “Lying In Wait”, “Skin Deep”, and now “Little Cruelties”. Each one is insightful; taking us into the minds of her characters....with a compelling ‘who/why/dunnit’ thread running throughout.

I wasn’t only interested in the suspense mystery thriller - ( I never figured out the perfect ending).....I was equally interested in the characters unconscious thoughts/feelings and behavioral projections. ....enjoying the entire journey.

I admit to figuring out one aspect-part of the ending ....but not until about 95%...so does it even count?.... Haha!
The 2nd’ ending-part (the ‘thinkers’ -most intriguing ending), was so gut truthful....that I felt full & satisfied. Sad.... but it was cohesive to the tribe at large.

Thoughts running through me since reading “Little Cruelties”:
.....Sadness contributes to our lives. None of us escape sadness....
.....We can’t choose to control what other people choose to think…or actions they choose to manifest.
.....We can’t make everyone happy…
.....Most of us can’t pick our parents or our siblings.
.....Self-defeating behaviors .... problems at home, with work, substance abuse, emotional and physical abuse, fighting, tempers, sex, eating, trust issues, cheating, withdrawals, mental illness, .... do not naturally lead to personal integrity, feelings of strength, self-respect, confidence, hopefulness, and pride....
Ha.....it’s this chaos we try to make sense of while examining the characters coping mechanisms, their communication skills or lack there of, and their behaviors.

This is a wonderful literary mystery suspense novel with shifting dynamics and tensions between three brothers, William, Brian, and Luke....[The Drumm Brothers], including the family they came from - Mum and Dad, other friends, employees, wives, girlfriends, an aunt, a daughter....
how one recovers, if he does,
how they handle adult success and failure, if they do...
how they deal with secrets, lies, and betrayal.

I have concerns that this story may not be flashy enough for some readers.....but the world Liz Nugent created - several worlds - engaged all my senses...
allowing me to feel as if I was a part of this network-
a family....reflecting....chewing the meat off their bones every inch of the way.

A few excerpts:
Brian asked Susan if she thought of him as a penny-pincher.
“God Yes!”
“You make Ebenezer Scrooge look good, Brian. You are a skinflint”.
“That’s ridiculous! I don’t splash money around like Will, but he loves flashing the cash. He thinks it makes him look like a big man”.
“Yeah? Well in terms of generosity, you look like a small man”.

“I had everything I could possibly want: fame and fortune, TV appearances, adoring fans, more money than I could spend, world travel, sex on tap, antipsychotic medication, and an on-call psychiatrist for when things got bad. But that spring, everything was good. I felt strong and stable, and everyone said I was at the top of my game. Though, everyone always says that when I was at the bottom too. There weren’t many people I could rely on to tell me the truth”.

"William, was 25 years of age, when their child was born, (his mum helped out financially), but times were tough for newlyweds with a baby.
However the plan was for William and Susan to live happily ever after".

“William, Brian, and Luke: three boys, born a year apart, trained from birth by their wily mother to compete for her attention. They play games, as brothers do… Yet even after the Drumms escape into the world beyond their windows, those games— those little cruelties— grow more sinister, more merciless, and more dangerous. And with their lives entwined like the strands of a noose, only two of the brothers will survive”.

“All three Drumm Brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in a coffin”.
“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”.


Thank You Gallery-Scout Press, Netgalley, and the wonderful Liz Nugent.
Profile Image for Beata.
736 reviews1,111 followers
February 28, 2020
Liz Nugent knows how to engage a reader without bonding with her characters. At least, this was the case with me. I have a soft spot for non-linear narration delivered by different characters. Interestingly enough, I did not care who murdered who or whose funeral the two remaining brother are attending in the opening scene. What gripped me was the characters, their little, or not that little, cruelties, and the reasons behind such degree of dysfunction in a family. And I was rewarded as a reader.
This was the first buddy read of 2020 with Peter. Thank you!
Profile Image for Carole.
489 reviews108 followers
December 16, 2020
Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent paints a portrait of a dysfunctional family (with a capital D). The Drumm brothers of Dublin, Will, Brian and Luke have spent their childhood seeking love and approval from their mother, a selfish performer with a giant ego. This competition has driven a wedge between the brothers and they turn against each other, go out of their way to make the others miserable. This does not change when they become adults. The rivalry simply becomes more cruel. And this ends with two brothers attending the third brother’s funeral. Which one died and what caused his death? The narration is by each of the brothers, at different ages. This helps the reader get to know each one individually. This is dark family drama at its best: reading Little Cruelties is so fascinating that it is difficult to look away. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy family fiction with a helping of suspense. Thank you to Simon & Schuster, NetGalley and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,071 reviews3,615 followers
December 9, 2020
This was my second go around with this book. After nearly a third of the way I set it aside and called it a day. When the audio version was released I quickly snatched it up hoping it would be an improvement. But sadly it didn’t sway my opinion.

Always a fan of Liz Nugent books in the past, I was anxious to read this one as well. I can’t pin-point what happened. I just wasn’t able to connect with the characters, finding each one to be mean, selfish and unlikable. I think this left me with the inability to make a connection with the storyline.

I dutifully stayed with the audio right to the end, hoping the big reveal would save the read. But once again, I was disappointed at how the author handled the finale.

Lots of mixed reviews for this book. Hope your experience will be better!💖

Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for an ARC to read and review.
Profile Image for Nina.
841 reviews217 followers
February 19, 2023
There are good books, and then there are brilliant books. That’s what I though continuously while reading this masterpiece. How Nugent managed to portray the bad and the ugly so convincingly is nearly impossible, but she did it. I can’t shake the story away, it clings to me like a leech, impossible to not notice. She gets into the minds of the three brothers as if she was them, and that is truly an accomplishment.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
2,179 reviews617 followers
February 26, 2020
The Drumm family in this novel would have to be one of the most dysfunctional and toxic fictional families ever!

Mother Melissa Craig, a self obsessed musical show biz celebrity was mostly to blame, as her family always came second to her career. Any maternal love she had was reserved for William, the eldest of her three sons who could do no wrong in her eyes, resulting in jealousy from her middle son Brian while her youngest, most sensitive son Luke couldn't understand why his mother doesn't love him. Melissa also openly flirted and had affairs with other men, while her quiet and loyal husband cooked and kept house for the boys when she was on stage. Not surprisingly all the boys grew up with a range of issues, including misogyny and difficulty forming relationships.

The novel opens with two of the brothers attending the funeral of the third. How he died and which brother was involved isn't revealed until the end of the book. Each brother gets a turn to relate their experiences during their childhood and later adulthood. The time line jumps around but as each brother relates the same experience from a different perspective it all fits together into some distorted jigsaw. All the little (and the big) cruelties that the brothers (mostly Brian and William) inflict on each other as children and adults come to light and shape their lives and relationships with each other.

None of the characters are likeable, in fact they are often totally despicable, but they are brilliantly depicted and fascinating in a train-crash waiting to happen way. Luke was the only character I felt any sympathy for. Basically a kind and good hearted kid, he became a famous rock star but struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and his life and happiness was badly affected by his both his brothers. The writing is sharp and clever and there is a touch of dark humour that makes this book so engrossing to read.

With thanks to Penguin Books and Netgalley for a digital ARC to read.
November 23, 2020
2 stars.

It is really disappointing for me to give 2 stars to one of my most highly anticipated books. I am a huge fan of this author but this novel felt like it was written by someone else entirely.

The storyline was dark and depressing and it failed to draw me in. I kept waiting to feel a connection that never happened. I didn’t care for any of the characters. The writing itself felt quite basic and rambly - like a personal journal that was never edited. Perhaps I missed the whole point of the way this was presented?

There are many heavy topics presented within the pages of this story. I didn’t enjoy the way they were included and handled. Overall, this comes down to me not being the right reader for this book as there are many glowing reviews which I encourage you to check out.

Thank you to NetGalley for my review copy!
Profile Image for Felicia.
254 reviews931 followers
Want to read
August 14, 2019

What's the procedure?
What's the procedure?!!!

Stay fucking calm!

Everybody just calm down!

(If you don't know what this references to then your life sucks and I can't help you.)
Profile Image for Frank Phillips.
504 reviews250 followers
November 20, 2020
What can I say, other than this was yet another Nugent vintage domestic drama that had me nothing less than completely enthralled! The beginning scene of this incredible novel was at a funeral of one of our three protagonist Drumm brothers, although we are not given any indication as to which one it is! At that point I was a goner. I was what you would call obsessed with this, taking it everywhere I went: bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, when I had to drive to go get food (in case there was a temporary wait), that's how much I enjoyed reading this. There's not much to tell about this story other than it's about a very dysfunctional family consisting of three sons, named William, Brian and Luke, a fading celebrity mom and her much older husband. Nugent alternates her chapters back and forth in time, providing the three brother's perspectives throughout the years, very successfully illustrating how this family came to be so very dysfunctional. This resulted in a richly fleshed out ensemble of a deeply flawed characters that I felt I knew personally! One of the many strengths and Nugent's writing is that she can create antagonists that you can't help but sometimes like, no matter how villainous their actions are at times, and that's how I felt whilst reading this. I loved William at times, Brian at even a few more occasions, and Luke, who was my absolute favorite, and whom I also felt was the best person among the three. At the point of the reveal I had already figured out which one of the brothers had passed, however that didn't take away one ounce of my determination to finish and see how all of the other characters storylines ended. A wonderful, complete, well-written drama that is definitely one of my top five favorite books of 2020! This is the type of novel that will follow you long after putting it down, and I'm absolutely gutted that I have to wait most likely another 12 months before getting more from Nugent, who is undoubtedly the most consistent author as far as quality goes in all her releases (along with Lisa Jewell too), and she gets better with each book. The countdown begins!
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,478 reviews605 followers
July 21, 2020
4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
This is a dark, disturbing story of a dysfunctional family. None of the characters are remotely likeable, but always intriguing in this compulsive tale of sibling rivalry, competition, insidious mental cruelty, drugs, alcoholism, betrayal, and emotional breakdowns. The author, Liz Nugent, portrays family dynamics at its most shocking and fascinating. There are touches of diabolical black humour to make one laugh or gasp.

The story begins with one of the three Drumm sons dead in the presence of the other two brothers. We do not find out which one is the victim until the end, nor how he was killed, or the motive. Each of the sons has reasons to want the others dead because of the 'little' cruelties inflicted during their lifetimes.

Melissa, their mother, is a cold, self-absorbed woman who was once a popular showband singer. Her sons eventually find themselves in show biz careers after some missteps along the way. Her favourite son is the eldest, William, who can do no wrong in his mother’s esteem. He is a film producer, misogynist, womanizer and sexual predator. She is indifferent towards Brian, a show biz agent who is not above enriching himself by representing family and friends and defrauded his younger brother out of his home. He is regarded as behaving like a miser with his money. William and Brian lack empathy and morals. They perpetuate cruelties on one another and are especially mean to the younger brother Luke.

Luke has always felt disliked by his mother and brothers. He is vulnerable and fragile. He becomes a hugely popular pop/rock singer but fritters away his fame with liquor and hard drugs and suffers bouts of mental illness. Touched by the turmoil and confusion is Daisy, who is the daughter/niece of William and Brian. She had the ambition to be a singer/ songwriter but is damaged emotionally by the chaos that surrounds her.

The story consists of narratives by the three Drumm brothers, told from their individual memories, perspectives and self-interests. Their stories skip around in time without any chronological order. The author skillfully manages to keep all their individual stories running smoothly as the suspense builds up to the final revelations.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster for this compelling and suspenseful ARC, which is a well-written portrait of family discord. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,294 reviews2,964 followers
July 28, 2020
4.5 stars

This is the 4th book I have read by this author and once again it was a good read. Liz Nugent has a knack for coming up with these crazy characters who you wouldn't want to encounter in real life but are so much fun to read about in her books.

Brothers William, Brian, and Luke Drumm grew up in 1970s Ireland. And let's just say their childhood helped shape them into the men they became as adults. The beginning of the story opens up with the funeral of one of the brothers. So how did the brother die? The story will go back in time to pivotal moments in each of the brothers' lives.

This book could be classified as a mystery or psychological thriller but if you are primarily interested in those elements there might not be enough here to sustain your interest. I guess what I am trying to say is it's much more of a character driven novel than a plot based one. To be honest, half the time I forgot a brother was dead and I needed put on my thinking cap to figure out if one of the brothers was responsible for his death. I was so intrigued by their backstories that the whole mystery portion wasn't as important to me. For what it's worth though, the ending did catch me off guard.

The timeline is all over the place as one chapter might feature something that happened in 2001 while the next chapter goes back to an event in the 1980s. I personally thought it was easy to keep up with the story despite the back and forth. Eventually you get to hear each brother's perspective and by the time you get to the ending it's like all the pieces of the puzzle fit into place. The characters, including the mother, and the relationships they had with each other was fascinating to me.

Lots of disturbing elements to the story, and yet it was a fun read. I'm already looking forward to whatever this author comes up with next!

Thank you to Netgalley and Gallery/Scout Press for providing me with an advance digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Profile Image for Gary.
2,622 reviews370 followers
January 4, 2020
I read the simple preface of this book and instantly wanted to read it. 'Three brothers are at the funeral. One lies in the coffin. Will, Brian and Luke grow up competing for their mother's unequal love. As men, the competition continues - for status, money, fame, women ...
They each betray each other, over and over, until one of them is dead. But which brother killed him?'
Added to that I had previously enjoyed 'Skin Deep' by the same author.
This book had me hooked from start to finish although I was slightly disappointed by the ending but nevertheless I very entertaining read. The book is told by each of the three brothers all the while the victims and the killer are kept secret. They all have their own story and it is interesting to see their individual take on each plot line. The characters are not not people but fascinating all the same.
I would like to thank both Net Galley and Penguin UK for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Melissa (Catch Up Mode).
4,575 reviews1,881 followers
April 11, 2021
Did you ever read a book that was so long and tons of things happen but really nothing happens? And you don’t care about any of the characters because they are all miserable awful people? This is that book.
I have really liked Nugent’s books in the past and hope I will like the next one but I struggled with this one.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book, all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,342 reviews700 followers
December 25, 2020
“Little Cruelties” by Liz Nugent is, for me, a domestic drama about a narcissistic mother who is one of the most heinous mother characters I’ve read. This has been billed as a suspense/thriller, and it was not for me. I’m happy I didn’t know it was to be a thriller, as I would have been disappointed. My ignorance helped me enjoy this tragic story.

The novel opens at the funeral of one of three brothers. The mystery is who is the dead brother? Nugent writes her story as a character driven story, with the oldest, William, informing the reader his view of his life in the Drumm family. William is self-absorbed, cutthroat, misogynous, and opportunistic. Next is Brian who is lazy, selfish, treacherous, and also opportunistic. The youngest, Luke, is sensitive and fragile. Luke ends up having mental illness issues, but given his upbringing, it’s no surprise.

At the heart of the family is their mother who creates a trio of dysfunctional boys. Her wanton disregard of Luke, her fascination and over-the-top love of William, and her cruelties to Brian shapes boys who become dysfunctional in gaining her hard sought out attention. She openly berates Brian’s nose, making him self-conscious and neurotic. She ignores Luke, and when she chooses to talk to him, it’s inappropriate. She treats him so badly that he comes to the conclusion that he must be a product of rape.

Nugent does a good job showing how nurture can create more dysfunction than nature. After reading this, a book club could engage in a lively conversation about whether the boys would have been as cruel with a different mother or if Luke would have fallen into mental illness if he had a supportive home environment.

The story skips some timelines in each character narrative. The stories do interconnect and it’s interesting to see each boy’s perspective of different events. Nugent does a good job keeping the reader guessing as to who the dead brother is. Each of them had a history that could result in his death.

I really enjoyed this dark story. I’m a fan of Nugent and find her writing easy to get lost in. The characters are over-the-top abnormal, yet she carefully writes them where they are believable.
Profile Image for Mandy White (mandylovestoread).
2,036 reviews536 followers
March 6, 2020
If this tagline doesn't suck you in then nothing will - " Three brothers are at the funeral - one lies in the coffin" Although we do not find out who, how or why until the very end this book is addictive! At any point in the story it could have been any of the 3.

The Drumm family are so dysfunctional they would make any other family look normal. The mother is a minor celebrity in Ireland and does not know how to be a real mother to her boys. Brian, Luke and Will all grow up craving the love and attention of their mother. None of them turn out too great, all self centred and troubled. Theirs lives are a mess and they show no family loyalties. We hear each brother's story and learn how they become the way that they are. We see each life occurrence through each set of eyes. It all comes to a head in the last few chapters and the ending will shock you.

Thank you to Penguin UK and Ireland and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
Profile Image for Bridgett.
Author 20 books428 followers
August 22, 2020
“The Drumms sounded like characters from a Greek tragedy or the shoddiest soap opera there ever was."

What an incredibly fecked up family. I mean, holy cow. I think every single character in this book was completely off the rails, but man, was it a naughty pleasure.

Divided into three sections, each voiced by one of the three Drumm brothers, this story was absolutely masterfully written. I loved how we got to see different life events, both tragedies and celebrations, but through the very different perspectives of each brother...

The eldest, William, who was a momma's boy and total womanizer. The middle child, Brian, who was miserly and manipulative. And the baby of the family, Luke, who was mentally unstable and somewhat self-absorbed.

None of the brothers, or their mother, Melissa, were particularly sympathetic. Yet after reading the very first sentence of the novel, 'All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral although one of us was in a coffin,' I couldn't stop turning the pages. I had numerous thoughts about who I thought the deceased sibling was throughout the book, but my final guess was incorrect. For that reason alone, I was impressed by this story.

Our Little Cruelties lived up to every expectation I had, and surpassed many. The plotting and pacing were on point. I highly recommend this one.

The U.S. version is available November 10, 2020.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Gallery Books for my advance copy.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,453 reviews7,562 followers
December 18, 2020
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

The Drumms sounded like characters from a Greek tragedy or the shoddiest soap opera there ever was.

I loooooooooooooooooooove some fucked up family drama – especially during this time of Covid when you have to isolate from any real-life action that might occur within your own jacked up family tree.

This one starts off with Nugent’s signature “you had me at hello” whammo of an opening line . . . .

All three of the Drumm brothers were at the funeral, although one of us was in a coffin.

You’re then provided narratives from each of the siblings with timehops that bounce all over the place until you come to a “Liane Moriarity” type of ending when the dead person’s identity is finally revealed. The same, monumental moments in the brothers’ lives are told from their unique perspectives and they are all garbage humans. Oh talk about my idea of a good time! I haven’t met people this despicable since I ran into Maurice last year.

Bottom line? I would read Liz Nugent’s grocery list . . . .

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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