Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

When Eve was just twelve years old, her family was brutally murdered by a man the media had dubbed "The Nothing Man." 

They called him that because he never left behind any evidence. And his crimes had escalated from serial attacks to murder by the time he targeted Eve's family. 

Years later, Eve has resurfaced as the author of a true crime book about The Nothing Man. 

Jim Doyle knew he shouldn't have let Eve live. And as he reads about his own exploits, he becomes determined to fix his mistake. 

For anyone who's read The Nothing Man, it's no surprise to find that Catherine Ryan Howard was heavily influenced by Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone in the Dark. This was a book that, although I don't read much true crime, captivated me. McNamara's mission to finally bring the Golden State Killer to justice was a passion that even she said was an obsession. Sadly she passed away before the book was published and the killer was finally caught. And I wonder to this day what else she could have accomplished had she not died at such a tragically early age. 

But anyway! 

In The Nothing Man Catherine Ryan Howard imagines a scenario in which the survivor of a serial killer pens a book about her experience. And the murderer is reading the book as the story unfolds. 

The structure is interesting because it alternates between Jim's narrative and the book within the book. So Eve's story is just that, the fictional true crime book that spurs Jim on. This approach controls the pacing of the book, forcing the reader to read alongside the killer. And just as you're starting to sink into one or the other parts of the tale, you're ripped out of it and dropped into the other. 

I don't mean it to sound violent :) In actuality, I found that this worked quite well for the story. We know Jim is the killer all along. And in his narrative we see him start to deteriorate as he reads more and more of Eve's book. 

I have to say that I really enjoyed this book. I'd meant to read it last year when it came out, but...life. And so when a buddy read opportunity popped up over on Instagram, I decided it was past time! In fact, I ended up reading it back to back with the author's latest release 56 Days and now can't wait to go back and read the rest of her backlist!

With all the talk about supply chain issues (yay for even more Covid fallout), there's a push for shopping early and suggestions for shopping backlist. With that in mind, this is a perfect book for anyone who was also drawn into the Golden State Killer news, I'll Be Gone In the Dark, and (another one I read but still need to review) Savage Appetites by Rachel Monroe. 

Order a copy from your favorite indie via Bookshop!

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