To survive any attack is no small feat. To survive one that kills your entire family in front of your eyes can haunt anyone for life. You’ll find unimaginable horrors happening in the world, and yet there are people who go out of their way to terrorize others in order to feel better about themselves. Catherine Ryan Howard, author of Distress Signals, shortlisted for the Crime Writers’ Association John Creasey New Blood Dagger and Irish Crime Novel of the Year, brings us The Nothing Man, a spine-tingling thriller that gives us a firsthand look inside a murderer’s mind.
Eve Black reaches notoriety at the age of 12 when she’s the sole survivor of a brutal attack on her family. The newspaper dubs the serial attacker ‘The Nothing Man’ as he leaves nothing behind at any of the crime scenes. It boggles and terrorizes the minds of the community of Cork County, and after several years of terror the attacker disappears. The relief the county feels is palpable but fear that pervades the community is still profoundly felt.
Now, 20 years later, Black has written a tell-all book that recounts her memories of that fateful night as well as the process of her hopes in capturing the Nothing Man. She stops at nothing and devotes her life to finding him.
The story replays Black’s memories as well as those of the Nothing Man’s. It may not surprise others to discover the former attacker is now a security guard, not even able to stop many people from shoplifting. But when the Nothing Man spies Black’s book, he pounces on it to see how far the investigation has gone. In a way, it tickles him to see the investigation go sideways, all because he didn’t leave any tangible evidence behind.
Having insight into a murderer’s mind is always interesting – and disturbing. Society has always been fascinated by these people, what with all the documentaries, movies, and series on serial killers and how they somehow managed to live among the rest of us. In a civilized world, what would make someone not only kill one person, but multiple people? And sadly, the answer isn’t always as engrossing as we think it’ll be. Howard does a fine job of laying out the facts and allowing us entrance into the mind of a killer. The balance between Black’s memories and the Nothing Man’s progresses the story at a good pace.
It’s an unfortunate part of living in a world where serial killers exist. They prey on the fear and vulnerabilities of those around them, and mostly for their own amusement. Howard’s The Nothing Man is an intriguing study into the mind of a serial attacker and that of a survivor who will stop at nothing to take him down. It’s exciting and chilling at the same time, and fans of the genre will definitely want to check this out – though it did make me wonder if there will ever be a time when we can live in a world without fear of possibly getting killed.