This was a really fun book!!! Earlier in the year, I read Every Last Fear which follows the story of a young man whose family was killed and whose story became a true crime phenomenon. The Nothing Man falls into the same category of meta-true crime fiction, and it highlights the importance of the victims who are often left out of the narrative.
The story of The Nothing Man takes place in county Cork in Ireland, and is told from two perspectives. One is from Eve Black – a 30-year-old woman who wrote a book about her family’s murder at the hands of a serial killer called “The Nothing Man” when she was 12. He’s called The Nothing Man because he leaves nothing behind to identify him – no clues, no DNA, no fingerprints, no images… nothing. We only hear from Eve directly through the text of her book which she writes in the hopes of encouraging the public to identify the heretofore unknown rapist and killer.
The other perspective is that of Jim Doyle – a security guard, retired garda, and The Nothing Man himself. We hear Jim’s voice as he reads the book and reacts to the narrative that Eve creates. We see him at home with his wife and daughter. And we hear him recount the crimes from his own perspective as he obsesses over the book.
The tone of the book seems deliberately created to antagonize The Nothing Man, with Eve Black alternately calling him a loser, a nobody, unimportant, unimpressive, and unskilled. And she unceasingly highlights the names of the victims and their journeys to healing after their encounters with The Nothing Man. This, of course, upsets Doyle, and his behavior begins to spin out of control.
The juxtaposition of the thought-out narrative with the real-time reactions of the man about whom the book is written is so great. It wasn’t until halfway through the book that I realized we don’t hear from Eve Black directly unless it’s through an interview being viewed by Doyle. And yet, it feels like the two are in direct conversation.
If you’re a fan of true crime, this a thought-provoking and well-written story about what happens after the craze is over and the realities of the natures of men like Doyle.