- The Nothing Man.
- Catherine Ryan Howard.
- 352 pages.
- Crime / Thriller / Mystery.
- My Rating: Hellyeah Book Review.
I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him…
You’ve just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.
Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was – is – the Nothing Man.
The more Jim reads, the more he realises 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…
I won a copy of this book from Reader’s First.
Jim Doyle is a sixty-three-year-old security guard who works in a supermarket, years ago and in a former life he was the Nothing Man, he was never caught. In the early 2000s, The Nothing Man roamed the county of Cork, Ireland, a denizen of hell hunting, preying on unsuspecting families and terrorising his victims for two years. Jim was dubbed ‘the Nothing Man’ by the media as the Garda (police) had nothing on him. He left no physical evidence behind at the scenes of his crimes only the blue rope that he used to tie up his victims, no DNA, no fingerprints, no forensic evidence, nothing, he was a ghost apart from one lone sighting, a fleeting glimpse at night of a figure walking furtively along the side of a road seen in the headlights of a car and after his final attack, he vanished without a trace.
Since then, Jim has hidden the evil within, consigned the Nothing Man to the past, laid him to rest and put on a mask, that of Jim the nondescript and ordinary security guard. He lives wife his wife under a facade of nondescript normalcy and is someone who blends into the background and is instantly forgettable.
Back in 2001, Eve Black was twelve-years-old when she was the sole survivor of the final brutal attack by the Nothing Man that left her mother, father and younger sister, seven-year-old Anna all dead. Eve survived the night of violent horror that irrevocably changed her life forever by hiding in the bathroom. Now, eighteen years later, Eve has released a book ‘The Nothing Man: A Survivor’s Search for the Truth’.
Eve had hidden from her past, but after writing an article for a university course about her experience, she was asked to write a book on the Nothing Man. Eve’s book is a true-crime memoir, alongside her own personal experience and with help from Ed Healy, the sergeant on the initial Nothing Man case, the original evidence and information that the Garda gathered over the course of that investigation and interviews with various sources, the victims and family members from the other devastating Nothing Man attacks she has dug deep, exposed new links between the crimes, unearthed the past and formed a full picture of the Nothing Man. Writing the book will potentially lead to answers and allow Eve to heal. The void of her lost family will never be filled, but answers and the truth will hopefully allow her to move forward.
Eve hopes that finding Jim will close the wound and let her look to a possible future rather than spend the rest of her life looking at the past and living a life full of hurt and sorrow. She has spent the last eighteen years in a half-life, existing and not ‘living‘ and to move on first, for closure she needs to go back to the past and confront the Nothing Man. Eve wants to catch the Nothing Man, wants to make him face justice and pay for his crimes. She wants to know his identity, who he is, why he did what he did and ask him why he targeted her family? She wants to look at the man who has been free to live his life while her family had their lives snuffed out by him, for her mother, her father and for Anna, taken away like a candle in the wind, flickering and then gone. Eve is playing a mind game with the Nothing Man, a game of cat-and-mouse, using her book and taking the chance that he will read it to draw him out from the shadows where he has been hiding.
One morning, while at work Jim is watching someone that could be a shoplifter when they accidentally drop a copy of Eve’s book, Eve’s book with Jim’s other name emblazoned upon the cover. Until then, Jim had no idea that the book existed, but now that he knows, he gets his own copy and he can’t stop reading. He needs to know what Eve knows, what she has managed to uncover and find out over the last eighteen years and he needs to know if he is in jeopardy of finally being discovered. Paranoid, Jim hides the book, but as he reads he becomes obsessed, transfixed and the clouds start to converge. Dark and stormy, with the turning of each page, his anger and his rage builds. Eve is telling her story, the story of her experience and that of the victims and the terrible aftermath of the Nothing Man’s crimes, but it is also Jim’s story, he was, he is the Nothing Man. When he retired from being the Nothing Man it is a name that he put aside, but now, the fire is being stoked and the flames are beginning to burn bright. Shaken by the book, Eve has stirred something in Jim that had lain dormant and she has awoken the monster. Jim realises that he will have to kill Eve, eighteen years ago he should never have let her live and now, his decision has come back to haunt him. The Nothing Man will return for one final killing, the death of his most famous survivor to allow him to keep his freedom and to allow him to fade into legend.
The dark and disturbing story in The Nothing Man is filled with a tension that is almost tangible and unfolds through a gripping dual narrative with Jim in the present and then, by Eve in the past with a ‘book-within-a-book‘ format through the excerpts of her own book. Jim isn’t a likeable person, but his part of the story is fascinating as you get inside his calculating and slowly unhinging mind. Eve is brave, resilient, scarred and strong and her part of the story is harrowing and moving. The writing in The Nothing Man is crisp and clear, elegant and sharp, there is a strength to the storytelling and it is perfectly plotted for maximum thrilling effect.
The Nothing Man is an addictive, atmospheric and twisted delight that is executed in a clever, fresh and original way.
Purchase The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard.
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