Title: The Nothing Man
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Genre: Suspense
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Source: ARC audiobook via NetGalley
Length: 288p; 9 hours, 57 min.
Publishing Date: 4 August 2020

When Jim starts his security duty shift at the local department store, he wasn’t expecting to be surprised. Nothing surprised Jim. Distracted by a woman acting suspiciously in the book section, Jim finds himself staring at a row of books with a title that stops him cold: The Nothing Man. He knows that name. He knows that name because he’s him. He’s The Nothing Man.

It set him alright, that night. Switched him on, brought him to life. He didn’t care about how bad the days were any more when there could be nights like this.

Catherine Ryan Howard, The Nothing Man

Eve Black was — is — the sole survivor of The Nothing Man‘s final and most gruesome attack that left her mother, father, and sister (“seven years old then and forever“) dead. After a personal essay she wrote about the experience of being a survivor went viral, she was convinced that telling her story could help, not just herself, but the other survivors. And maybe, just maybe, they could finally catch this killer.

Jim can’t help himself: he has to read. As he opens the cover of his version of The Nothing Man, the physical book (or audiobook) appears to start over. Title page, copyright information, and brand new narrator. Jim might be reading the book, but Eve tells the reader her story, in her own words, and in her own voice. For me, this is what made the book stand out especially as an audiobook experience. It wasn’t a single narrator doing the voice for both Jim and Eve. Of course, the way Catherine Ryan Howard wrote The Nothing Man, you can feel the shift from Jim to Eve even reading the physical book.

Eve goes into the details of the attacks that came before the attack on her family. Her motivation was clear: she wants people to know what she and others went through in maybe a pointless hope that they’ll care. Jim, though, voices what I felt: people just want to be witnesses to other people’s misery.

What all these people wanted to know about was the man who had made her what she was, who made her someone.

Catherine Ryan Howard, The Nothing Man

What The Nothing Man seems to set out to do is to remind the genre that there are real people behind their escapism. The criminal mind might be something that is fascinating to hear about, but criminals leave bodies and blood in their wake. A fictional answer to Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, The Nothing Man is a twisted, fascinating look into both sides of a crime story.

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