#Book review # The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard


At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man–the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family’s killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim’s not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.

Jim soon beings to realize how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won’t give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first …


My thoughts:

Clever concept masterfully executed by a superb story-teller!

This is my second book by Catherine Ryan Howard and once again I have to admire the narrative structure she chose for her thriller. The Nothing Man is a book in a book and both of them are impossible to put down!

Eve Black survived a horrifying experience of losing all her family at the age of twelve. A masked man crept into their house and killed Eve’s mother, father and her seven year old little sister. Eve hid in the bathroom and by miracle was not noticed by the Nothing Man, a serial killer who never left any evidence behind him, no trace of DNA, no witnesses, nothing.

Jim Doyle is working as a security guard in a department store. He notices a customer with a brand new thriller and then is shocked to see the title- The Nothing Man: A Survivor’s Search for the Truth. The Nothing Man is Jim’s other name given to him by the press twenty years ago. Jim is so fascinated by Eve’s account that he buys a copy for himself going to great lengths to hide the fact. He needs to know what Eve has written and how accurate her description of his five crimes is. Jim’s eighteen year old daughter asks him to go a local bookstore where Eve is going to sign copies of her true crime memoir. This is his chance to see the writer close up and get a feel how much she really knows.

We never meet Eve in real life. All we get is her riveting book where she talks about her life after the attack, her grief for her lost family, her desire to protect her identity and avoid being pigeonholed as The Girl Who Lived, her need to get closure that can only come with finding the serial killer. Eve’s account of the past events is vivid and perfectly paced, it makes such compelling reading that we get completely immersed in her search for the identity of the Nothing Man…only to be thrown back into real life which happens whenever Jim’s reading is interrupted and he is back to his present. Very soon Jim realises he will have to silence Eve once and forever. Incredibly, she managed to find the tenuous link between the victims, the reason why they were ‘chosen’.

We do get inside Jim’s head, get to know his character, his motivations, although, mercifully, do not see the crimes themselves. Step by step, we see how unremarkable, ordinary and forgettable he is. All that remains is the pain and suffering he inflicted. Catherine Ryan Howard sets out through Eve’s book to show that the world should pay more attention to the victims, not the serial killers.

Unusual, clever, focused, The Nothing Man is totally addictive -you won’t be able to stop reading until the last page is turned. It is extremely well-written with it’s tight plot, memorable characters, and fascinating structure. Highly recommended.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

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