Book Review: Strange Sally Diamond

Liz Nugent ~ Strange Sally Diamond


Sally Diamond cannot understand why what she did was so strange. She was only doing what her father told her to do, to put him out with the rubbish when he died.

Now Sally is the centre of attention, not only from the hungry media and worried police, but also a sinister voice from a past she has no memory of. As she begins to discover the horrors of her childhood, recluse Sally steps into the world for the first time, making new friends, finding independence, and learning that people don’t always mean what they say.

But when messages start arriving from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she knows herself, Sally’s life will be thrown into chaos once again…


A lot of thrillers try to be dark and horrific, but often miss the mark and avoid any true shock factor. Not Strange Sally Diamond. This book is extremely twisted and disturbing, dealing with topics like violent abuse, imprisonment and rape.

Yet the book itself is well-written, the subject matter handled sensitively and the characters compelling. Sally herself is described as strange, but Nugent helps us to see the world through Sally’s eyes and empathise with her. Characters all have their secrets, making it hard to figure out motives and history until they are revealed to us. This makes the book a gripping read.

Told in a dual timeline, the story takes us from Ireland all the way to New Zealand, as we try to untangle the web of lies and deceit that envelop Sally’s past. Why can’t she remember anything before she was adopted when she was 7? Following her father’s death and her misinterpretation of his joke, Sally is thrown into chaos, as her actions result in a media storm. Her reaction to these events makes us pity and admire her in equal measure.

This book has several similarities to Room, but it’s even more horrific. In this we see two sides of the story; while we may not sympathise with all parties, this additional insight into the story helps us to build a stronger picture of the situation. It’s no less sickening, but the other perspective is interesting. Nugent takes several people who have suffered abuse and shows us how this can affect them in later life; although they all suffer, the impact and trauma manifest themselves in different ways.

The ending feels a little too tidy and a bit underwhelming, which is a shame as the rest of the book is a fast-paced page turner that readers will struggle to put down. Sad, funny and horrific, Strange Sally Diamond is an excellent read.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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