The Nothing Man offers something a bit different to the serial killer, cat-and-mouse thriller staple and two nights running I read up until midnight because I wanted to know what would happen. Initially, the book-in-a-book idea made me a little sceptical but I needn’t have been. We have two narrators; the first, of our book, is Jim Doyle, who we already know is the serial killer in question; the second, of the book he’s reading, is Eve Black, a woman who survived Jim’s most brutal attack as a child. Neither are 100% trustworthy, which adds some nice extra layers of mystery. Catherine Ryan Howard has done well to make Jim a really odious figure and – despite him being our primary narrator – we really want him to get caught.
Added bonus is this is not a thriller set in America, like so many are; it’s set in Ireland, in otherwise sleepy Co. Cork, and this gives the impact of the murders a little more punch because they truly stand out in the collective memories and because we know then that law enforcement was never prepared for such crimes.
Overall, this is a captivating read and well worth looking into for a bit of a different approach to storytelling in the thriller genre.
This was an Advanced Reader Copy, courtesy of NetGalley and the publishers, in exchange for honest review.
With lovely art style and a story told with compassion, Invisible Differences is about a woman in her late 20’s being diagnosed with Asperger’s in a country that doesn’t give it much credence where misinformation is rife. While Marguerite’s story is centred around autism, this is a story that anyone with a form of neuro-divergence can recognise themselves in and find a bit of comfort in seeing Marguerite triumph.
It is also wonderful as an educational tool to explain what living with ASD (or generally being neuro-atypical, or having a chronic condition) is like in a way that isn’t condescending or light-footed. It’s perfect to evoke an empathy and understanding in others who may not have first hand experience of conditions like this. To those of us who have, Dachez leaves us a heartwarming note at the beginning of the book to remind us we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the standards of others and to live our lives without fear. Something we could all do with being reminded of now and then.
I see a lot of myself in Marguerite: sensitive to noise, drained by social interactions and the spoon theory as well as some of the negative interactions she goes through before officially receiving her diagnosis. The uplifting outcome is all the better for knowing this is a true story of the author and her artist friend.
This has been a translation from a French original and I didn’t detect any jilted phrases along the way so excellent in every respect.
With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for offering an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) in exchange for honest reviews.
Invisible Differences’ English edition is set to be published 18 August 2020 from Oni Press.