At the age of twelve, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an encounter with serial attacker the Nothing Man. Now an adult, she is obsessed with identifying the man who destroyed her life.
Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle has just started reading The Nothing Man--the true-crime memoir Eve has written about her efforts to track down her family's killer. As he turns each page, his rage grows. Because Jim's not just interested in reading about the Nothing Man. He is the Nothing Man.
Jim soon beings to realize 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 really liked this book. I spent the past weekend working on a jigsaw puzzle that was much more difficult than it should have been while Mr. Crime watched soccer and NFL playoffs, and this book was the perfect companion for that.
When she was 12 years old, Eve Black was the only member of her family to survive an attack by a serial killer known as The Nothing Man. He was called that because he left nothing behind. No prints, no hair, no DNA, absolutely nothing. The garda had no way to even start to figure out who he is and after the attack on Eve’s family, he stopped.
But now Eve is an adult, and she’s written a book about the experience, vowing to catch him. And The Nothing Man is reading the book, and growing angrier and angrier as he does, because he realizes that she might actually be able to do it.
This isn’t a mystery as much as a cat and mouse game. We know from the very beginning who the killer is, in fact, it’s told to us in the jacket copy of the book. And we don’t really spend any actual time with Eve at all. The only time we spend with her is through Jim Doyle’s eyes, as he reads the book Eve has written. In it, she details her experience, The Nothing Man’s other crimes, her life since the event, and her path to uncovering his identity. We see, through her book, exactly how close she’s getting to finding Jim Doyle, and exactly how Jim is unraveling.
The Nothing Man was active in the early aughts, and even though that doesn’t feel like it was very long ago, in the field of forensic investigation, it was a lifetime ago. But since he didn’t leave anything behind, there’s nothing forensically that they can do. They just have to do some old-fashioned pavement-pounding and talk to the victims who are still alive and work out who this man was. And Jim Doyle could only sit and read an already-published book about them doing exactly that.
Catherine Ryan Howard isn’t the first to do this story structure, but it’s still uncommon enough that I enjoy it when I come across it. Even though it was pretty clear how the story was going to wrap up, the journey there was so much fun. I don’t say that with mysteries very often, but it’s true in this case. I really enjoyed the experience of listening to this one, and I highly it for the next cold, wet weekend you’re stuck inside.