Orenda Books | 2019 (ebook: 14 September; Pb: 14 November) | 276p | Review copy | Buy the book
When nine people jumped off Chelsea Bridge in London with ropes around their necks, all in the same moment in a mass suicide, the world noticed and was shocked. What could have driven these ordinary people, strangers, each so different, each with loved ones, to commit such a desperate act? But to somebody else, scrutinising the media and the world’s reaction, these deaths represent something else entirely. For these nine men and women were members of his cult. They just didn’t know it.
Nothing Important Happened Today is an extraordinary, original crime thriller, with a most unusual killer and an equally intriguing detective. Its premise is bleak and utterly grim, and the novel itself is as dark as can be. Suicide, murder, grief, loss, guilt, isolation and evil are among the themes and it takes the reader into the deepest shadows. It’s raw and painful but there is more to it than this. It’s an utterly compelling and gripping read. It’s addictive, luring us in with its sharp, witty prose, its brief chapters, its concise snapshots into people’s lives, its delving into the mind of a killer, its scrutiny of the daily, hourly difficulty of many lives. I was engrossed from the very first unusual and dramatic page.
Will Carver presents to us The People of Choice, the cult members, but much of what we learn is told to us by an omnipresent, questioning presence. We’re addressed directly, our opinions are steered, our emotions are tested. But who does this voice belong to and what is it telling us?
This is the intriguing and wonderful puzzle at the heart of this bleak yet darkly human novel. I must admit to moments of profound sadness as I read it. There are some scenes that strike painfully close to home and I found some of the descriptions of family relationships agonisingly tender. This is not an easy read but, at the same time, it’s a fast and gripping one. It’s almost as if you don’t want to look but can’t look away.
Will Carver is clearly a clever and original writer who is able to capture an intense depth of feeling in some surprising and insightful ways. So while the book could be challenging – suicide is not an easy subject by any means – it is rewarding. Even though I read it in just a couple of days I must admit to alternating reads of this novel with dips into another, cosier book! But you may well be braver than me. It’s certainly one of the most unusual books I’ve read in quite a while, which gets equally into the head of the killer, the victim and the hunter of justice. Extraordinary.