The title may be Skin Deep but there is nothing superficial about the characters in Liz Nugent’s third novel.
The story opens with Cordelia Russel in a room where she has just murdered somebody and is wondering when rigor mortis will set in.
Born on a remote Irish island, Cordelia has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck has run out. And we find out why as her story slowly unfolds over the coming chapters.
Like Liz Nugent’s earlier novels — Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait — Skin Deep is dark. Cordelia is not a likeable character but slowly you come to understand at least some of the reasons why she behaves as she does. And those reasons go back to her early life on the island, particularly her relationship with her father and the expectations he encouraged during her childhood — expectations grounded in myth and dark storytelling.
There are a lot layers to explore in this novel — island life with its hardship, secrets and tight community, family jealousies, betrayal, myth, charity, home, retribution, the elements of fire and water, earth and the mercurial nature of Cordelia herself.
This is carefully crafted novel where the threads are well interwoven and expertly tied together in a satisfying conclusion.