Corvus | 2020 (6 August) | 352p | Review copy | Buy the book
When the serial killer known as The Nothing Man attacked the Black family, 12-year-old Eve was the only survivor. Her life was changed forever by the terrible events of that one night. There were no more murders to follow but Eve never stopped wanting to reveal the identity of the man who destroyed her family. Years later she publishes her true crime memoir, The Nothing Man, the result of her own investigations to track down the killer. Security guard Jim Doyle is reading the book. He has a vested interest in it. He is the Nothing Man and he knows that Eve is very close and she will not stop. He realises his biggest mistake was not killing her all those years ago. It’s time to put that right.
I do enjoy Catherine Ryan Howard’s psychological thrillers very much and it came as no surprise that The Nothing Man is every bit as good as its predecessors The Liar’s Girl and Distress Signals. Once again we have a stand alone thriller that is very much character driven while still maintaining pace, chills and tension.
I love the style of it. Much of the novel is Eve Black’s true crime memoir, right down to its acknowledgements. It’s extremely clever and it’s a great way for us to get inside Eve’s head and understand what’s happened to her and to the other victims. It’s also fascinating as a piece of fictional true crime. This mixes with the chapters spent with Jim Doyle, which I particularly enjoyed. Eve always remains a little aloof from us as we only know her from her memoir and what she chooses to reveal about herself, but we’re given full access to Jim Doyle’s mind and what an unpleasant place it is. It’s good to watch him squirm as he reads the book. What I also found intriguing is that this is also a portrait of a retired serial killer, raising all sorts of interesting questions about the nature of such people and why they might stop and why they might do it in the first place. It really is one of the most fascinating depictions of a serial killer that I’ve read.
As you’d expect from this excellent author, The Nothing Man is very well-written and compelling. It’s surprising, original and very entertaining. The portrayal of Jim Doyle especially stands out while Eve Black’s pursuit of a killer is engrossing. Which reminds me I must read Rewind very soon!