The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
Published by Blackstone Publishing
Publication date: August 4, 2020
Genres: Book Clubs, Fiction, Suspense
I don’t like to be stingy with 5-star ratings, but I do question myself when wanting to give this best of all scores to books in certain genres. Maybe I’m a bit of a snob? But truly, when a book is amazing, when I can’t find any fault with it—even my own peculiar pet peeves—then I need to relax and go with it. All of which is to say, I loved The Nothing Man, a thriller by Catherine Ryan Howard. Part of the novel’s allure is the fact that I’ve read several challenging books recently and this was a sensational change of pace.
Disguised as a book within a book, the novel showcases two characters, Eve Black, a young woman who writes a true crime memoir called The Nothing Man, and Jim Doyle, a 60ish security guard. The two would seem to have nothing in common except that Eve is writing about the man who murdered not only her family, but another couple, and raped and assaulted several women. Jim Doyle is that man. CALM DOWN—that fact is not a spoiler, just the main device Howard cleverly uses to lure unsuspecting readers into the sticky web of her story.
The Nothing Man got his name because he left behind no physical evidence of his crimes; nothing for the police to use to catch him. After killing Eve’s parents and younger sister his crimes stopped. 12-year-old Eve went into hiding in a remote area of Ireland with her grandmother, living with a made-up past until going to university. The Nothing Man’s crimes had long since faded from the public’s mind.
But not Eve’s. She writes an article about being the girl who can’t forget and it leads to a book deal where she goes beyond remembering and vows to catch him. The book is released, Jim starts reading it, and realizes he’s left something undone.
Suffice it to say, knowing who the killer is doesn’t detract from The Nothing Man’s suspense. Instead, we experience Jim’s harrowing crimes from the beginning, through Eve’s research. Howard goes a step further by adding a character who gives Eve (and all of us) much needed perspective on the Nothing Man and serial killers in general.
Howard walks a tension tightrope between Eve’s fear and Jim’s simmering rage in a story so carefully crafted that stopping reading at any point is not an option. And that includes the ending. If you love suspenseful, creative thrillers then The Nothing Man is a great way to start this year’s reading.
The Nothing Man was amazing backlist reading, but Sarah and I welcomed 2022 with 16 new releases we want to read this winter. If you’re looking for great reading you need to listen to this episode! Link here or on the graphic below.
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