New crime fiction: Shot in the arm for the hackneyed serial killer yarn

The Nothing Man brilliantly deconstructs the genre’s cliches of the charming sociopath

Catherine Ryan Howard, arguably the most inventive of the current crop of Irish crime writers when it comes to subverting the conventions

Catherine Ryan Howard, arguably the most inventive of the current crop of Irish crime writers when it comes to subverting the conventions

The serial killer yarn is probably the most hackneyed of crime fiction’s sub-genres, which is likely why Catherine Ryan Howard, arguably the most inventive of the current crop of Irish crime writers when it comes to subverting the conventions, decided to give it a shot in the arm. The Nothing Man (Corvus, £14.99) is the title of Howard’s latest novel as well as the book-within-a-book (which comes complete with its own ISBN number), a true crime account written by Eve Black about the murder of her family in 2001.

Eve’s book, which is “the story of Cork’s most famous crime”, is being read by Jim, the media-dubbed Nothing Man, who is initially horrified to hear that his old crimes are being raked over, but who grows increasingly aware that the old thrill is being rekindled. Has Eve put herself in harm’s way by writing The Nothing Man? Or is that the whole point of the exercise?

The Irish Times
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