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Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent

Meet Sally Diamond, who lives a quiet life in an isolated Irish county. She can’t understand why what she did was so strange, after all, she only did what her father told her to.

“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. You’ll be crying your eyes out,’ and he would laugh and I’d laugh too because we both knew that I wouldn’t be crying my eyes out. I never cry.”

Not surprisingly, she causes outrage when her actions are discovered by a neighbour.


Suddenly, Sally is the focus of media and police attention, plus a sinister voice from a past she doesn’t remember.

From the opening sentences, with Sally’s literal translations of instructions and social awkwardness, it is obvious that Sally is navigating the world around her in a way that provides her a sense of control.

From the moment she was born, Sally’s life has been traumatic. Sally’s adoptive father, Thomas Diamond was a psychiatrist and Sally was as much an intriguing case study as beloved daughter. He left letters detailing what he knew of the appalling events that led to her adoption. When her doctor, Angela, discovers what Sally has done, having known Sally and her family for years, she steps in to help Sally navigate the legal and personal minefield she finds herself in. Sally begins to uncover the horrors of her childhood, at the same time finding her way in a world that she has been detached from for decades. She gradually develops her confidence, independence, making new friends and learning that people don't always mean what they say. However, when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she does, Sally's life will be thrown into chaos once again. Her trust issues are about to be put to the test… As the narrative develops we slowly begin to understand what happened not only to Sally’s mother, but also the reality of their life at the hands of her father. Strange Sally Diamond explores both physical and emotional abuse including domestic violence and paedophilia. Despite these challenging themes, Liz is able to tackle them sensitively while deepening the understanding of what has brought Sally to this point. Strange Sally Diamond is a shockingly smart, dark and twisted psychological thriller. I was compelled to continue reading (beyond bedtime!) and often laughed out loud, only to be shocked again as the chilling story continued to unfold. Although heart-breaking, it is a compassionate story of people damaged beyond repair. Liz Nugent is an award winning, bestselling Irish crime writer. Read an extract of Strange Sally Diamond here and follow Liz Nugent online. Reviewer: Andrea Molloy Penguin Random House

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