‘The Nothing Man’ – Catherine Ryan Howard

Thank you Catherine Ryan Howard for giving me such a read for my final book of 2022. A book about a serial killer might seem an unusual choice to rate so highly, but this was clever…and once I’d started I really didn’t want to put it down.

The story focuses on a decades-old series of crimes committed by the killer dubbed the Nothing Man. Though he seems to have got away with his crimes, Eve Black survived the attack on her family. She was twelve when The Nothing Man broke into her home, killed her younger sister, raped her mother and left her father dead at the bottom of the stairs. Eve has taken years to feel comfortable talking about her experience, and has now written a book that examines what happened.

Eve’s book has become something of a runaway hit, and it has everyone in Cork talking about this killer. No traces of him were ever found at the scenes of his crimes, and nobody linked to the attacks is seemingly able to offer any details that could help to catch him. But Eve maintains that her book will help in the ongoing pursuit of this killer.

Alongside the fictional book that has generated such interest, we are given the character of Jim. Never has a title felt more fitting as Jim was – is – The Nothing Man. Now in his early sixties, and a security guard in a local shopping centre, Jim’s viewpoint focuses on him learning about the book and his desperate attempts to find out exactly what Eve recalls of that night…and how he can stop her before she reveals what she knows.

From start to finish this was a compelling read. While the details given about the crimes were sparse, enough was given to help us understand the horror of such scenes. I was strangely absorbed by the character of Jim and the insight into his mind, though the real hit was the decision to let the story unfold through the pages of this fictional book.

A clever read, which was paced perfectly, and which I’m surprised not to have heard more about. It’s certainly one that I’d recommend.