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The Nothing Man

Paperback edition released 06/05/2021

by Catherine Ryan Howard

Crime and Mystery Books of the Month Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Star Books Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading Expert Review of The Nothing Man

Two books sit inside one with this thrilling and well-crafted blast of pure reading entertainment. Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.

Razor-sharp tightrope time with this belter of a read, it is as dramatic and different as it is fabulous. Discover two books in one novel as true crime is enveloped by breathtaking storytelling. Read Eve Black’s memoir as she searches for the man who murdered the rest of her family 20 years ago. Sitting by its side is the story of the killer Jim Doyle as he reads the book and fears he will be unmasked. This has such a clever premise, Catherine Ryan Howard ensures that this is one of the few instances where knowing the identity of the killer actually adds to the intensity and drama. The change from one book to the other doesn’t jar in the slightest, each embraces and calls to the other and the transition is seamless. The tension increases until it is fairly reverberating through the pages. I let myself be carried away in the story, and don’t forget, this is a story, and it works because there is no sneaking a peek at the end! The Nothing Man is a blast of pure reading entertainment, and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.

Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for The Nothing Man.

Liz Robinson

The Nothing Man Synopsis

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...

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781786496614
Publication date: 6th May 2021
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Publisher: Corvus an imprint of Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Collections: 90+ books that dare you to take a walk on the dark side., Our Favourite Books of 2020,
Primary Genre Crime and Mystery
Other Genres:
Recommendations:
Win a paperback copy of The Serial Killer's Wife alongside a Colourblock Papier notebook.

Win a paperback copy of The Serial Killer's Wife alongside a Colourblock Papier notebook.

Closing date: 30/06/2021

The Serial Killer's Wife by Alice Hunter is out now and to celebrate we are working with AVON to offer a copy of the paperback as well as a Colourblock Papier notebook.  "A snaking twisting ride into the middle of a young family torn apart by allegations of murder." Liz Robinson, Expert Reviewer This draw is open only for UK residents currently in the UK and is free to enter, multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once. The draw closes on 30th June 2021. Please ensure that the details you use to enter the competition will be correct at the time the competition ends. The winners will be notified as soon as possible.

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The Nothing Man Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

An original and clever concept. When the victim is writing a book to draw out her killer what could possibly go wrong!

This is a really cleverly written story. It's set on the backdrop of a peaceful Ireland where serial killers are few and far between. Eve, who was the sole survivor of a horrific attack on her family is determined to catch the man who killed her family. The book is written both from her perspective as the author and also from the killers which allow the plot to be wonderfully interwoven to create intrigue and suspense. The killer feels safe and beyond anyone's reach as no-one has got a clue who he is and his crimes were so long ago. But when Eve decides to write this book it all comes back to the surface and now it's a battle to see who will survive.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good crime thriller and it kept me gripped until the end to see how it would all end.

Julie Watkin

I have never read a book like this before – and I liked it a lot! It is rare and it is unusual featuring a real-life crime memoir - documentary-style writing within a fictional story.

I have never read a book like this before – and I liked it a lot! It is rare and it is unusual featuring a real-life crime memoir - documentary-style writing within a fictional story.

Eve Black’s entire family were murdered by a serial killer in 2001 when she was only 12 years old. She escaped the horror by hiding but has spent nearly 20 years both dealing with the aftermath and trying to solve the crime – who is the killer?

The police at the time were baffled as no discernible clues were left at the crime scenes and their lines of investigation soon trickled into nothing.

Nearly two decades after the event Eva Black publishes her book – The Nothing Man – the title the police and media gave the murderer. The marketing campaign attracts huge interest and the book is flying off the shelves.

One of the people reading it is Jim Doyle, a supermarket security guard, deeply unpopular and bored with life but seemingly innocuous. But he is the killer and as he sinks further into the book it becomes clear that Eve’s investigations into who had committed the crimes was beginning to move nearer to the truth. He knew he needed to act now before it was too late.

There are a few obligatory twists to the tale, but the final pages hold surprises too difficult to guess. I had to check the disclaimer at the end – ‘this is a work of fiction……’ You really do find yourself being drawn in.

Dana Captainino

It will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

Eve had a tragedy happen 20 years ago, her parents and sibling were murdered in their house and she was the only one left alive. She has now in her adulthood written a book about 'The Nothing Man' as she calls him and the other murders he went on to commit and she is hoping this book will prompt people to remember clues to who he is although she infers she already knows.

This is split into two narrators Eve herself and the 'Nothing Man' who having got away from detection some time ago is leading a 'normal' life.

I was hooked on this book from very first page and still glued to the book on the very last page. I absolutely loved this book.

Carol Peace

All in all a story I really did enjoy and I’d happily recommend The Nothing Man to fiction and non fiction crime readers young and old.

Last year’s Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard was a five star read for me ticking all the boxes of a tense thriller, so I was very much looking forward to starting her latest novel The Nothing Man. With an intriguing title and a blurb to set the pulse racing before even opening the pages, I couldn’t wait to get started on what sounded like a unique and thrilling read.

“I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man. Now I am the woman who is going to catch him... Two Stories. One Killer. No Mercy”


Set in Cork, Ireland where the author is from, this part fiction, part fictionalised true crime, read like a realistic true crime memoir with chapters interspersed with the killer, whom we know from the start is called Jim and his thoughts and reactions as he reads the book written about himself. Eve Black is the author, the lone survivor of his worst and final attack and she is determined that by writing about ‘The Nothing Man’ (dubbed because the Gardai had ‘nothing’ to identify him) that she will finally uncover who he is and bring him to justice.

A couple of things near the end just had me doubting the integrity of the story a little, but this cat and mouse thriller entertained me from start to finish with a unique layout and storytelling. I found the whole story easy to follow and understand, especially with everything explained in the true crime parts. In the early pages, I was quite freaked out with the killer creeping up the stairs while his victims slept and felt Catherine did an extra job in drawing me into the dark and atmospheric scenes.

All in all a story I really did enjoy and I’d happily recommend The Nothing Man to fiction and non fiction crime readers young and old. I expect it to do really well with readers who are maybe looking for just that something different from the usual run of the mill serial killer thrillers.

Miriam Smith

Eve’s book and her investigation behind the book had some powerful psychological lessons, and I enjoyed learning everything. If you already love true crime, and psychological thrillers, you have to absolutely read this and soon. This book is too good to be skipped.

Needless to say, this book made me stay up all night, just to find out how it ends.

The Nothing Man starts when Jim is at work, walking through the supermarket, and he notices that a girl has a book with the name “The Nothing Man” with her. His heart starts racing – because he knows what it means. The Nothing Man is a mysterious man that has assaulted and killed many people in the area, and even after twenty years, no one has found him yet. But Jim knows the truth – because he is the man who did all these crimes.

Eve Black is one of the survivors, that managed to escape his attack by hiding in her bathroom. She writes a book about her experiences and the experiences of the other victims. With her whole family dead and nothing to lose, she is set to find out, once and for all, who the mysterious man is.

I loved the writing style – the book within the book – it was unusual and very interesting for me to engage with. I was so intrigued and invested, and that did not change at all. There are many twists and turns in this book, and you will enjoy them all, especially the very ending, where everything just comes to a big climax. It kept me glued to my seat, and I want more.

I loved the difference between Jim and Eve – their different recollections to how things happened, and why they did. In her book, Eve is explaining how the attacks and murders took place, and right after that, we also witness Jim’s reaction to Eve’s writing, and whether he agrees or not with how correct her facts are. It was very scary at times, to read from the killer’s perspective, and the reasons of why he made some choices.

The more Jim reads, the more he realizes 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…
Usually, in our standard crime books, we have a crime scene, then suspects, and then we figure our way to finding the murderer. But here – we already know who the murderer is at the beginning of the story. But the rest of the world doesn’t. And this is a concept that I haven’t encountered yet, but really enjoyed it. Because this is something we don’t think about often – when we have a crime, and we don’t know who did it, the person that is guilty is out there somewhere, and knows he’s deceived us.

The other important message from this book is to remember the victims.
Everyone remembers the name of a serial killer – but only few remember the victim’s names.

“It’s fine to be fascinated by serial killers,” she tells me in her office after the lecture. “I am myself, obviously. They are fascinating because even though they look just like the rest of us, they do things the rest of us would never, ever do. But they are not especially intelligent. They don’t outsmart authorities. You know David Berkowitz? Son of Sam? They caught him because he got himself a parking ticket at the scene of one of his crimes.

They are boring, ordinary, failures of men – not always men, of course, but predominately – who can’t even manage to live, love and process their feelings in a world where the rest of us have all managed to master it by the time we’re in our teens. These are no dark magicians. They have no special skills. People seem to forget that we know their names because they got caught. In fact, the only remarkable thing about them is what they took from the world: their victims. It’s their names we should know.”

Eve’s book and her investigation behind the book had some powerful psychological lessons, and I enjoyed learning everything. If you already love true crime, and psychological thrillers, you have to absolutely read this and soon. This book is too good to be skipped.

Ivana - Diary of Difference

Catherine Ryan Howard Press Reviews

Ryan Howard is a gift to crime writing. - Liz Nugent on Catherine Ryan Howard

Compelling - Skinny on Rewind

Fast-paced and vividly rendered. - Irish Times on Rewind

Chilling and mystifying from the get-go. - Times Crime Club on Rewind

A major new talent in thriller writing. - Daily Mail on Catherine Ryan Howard

Gripping, beautifully written, and genuinely chilling, The Nothing Man had me from page one. Simply stellar. - Meg Gardiner

Expertly crafted - storytelling at its best - Patricia Gibney

The Nothing Man is the most original and chilling thriller I've read in a long time, and is perfect for fans of Serial and The Fall. - Mark Edwards

The queen of high-concept crime fiction strikes again: this is the first novel I've read that really captures the chills and twists of the true crime that obsesses us. Catherine Ryan Howard has always been thrillingly good at what she does but she's just getting better and better with every book... I was utterly wowed. - Jane Casey

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781786496614
Publication date: 06/05/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781838951061
Publication date: 06/08/2020
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Catherine Ryan Howard

Catherine Ryan Howard was born in Cork, Ireland. Prior to writing full-time, Catherine worked as a front desk agent in Walt Disney World, Florida, and most recently was a social media marketer for a major publisher. She is currently studying for a BA in English at Trinity College Dublin.

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