Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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Mr Nobody by Catherine Steadman

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Karen Grace
Reviewed by Karen Grace
Summary: An incredibly creative, original and captivating story of a man found on a Norfolk beach, with no identification and unable to speak, and the medical team and press who are all trying to find out what happened to him.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 344 Date: January 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
ISBN: 978-1984890641

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Don't you just hate it when people are multi-talented? Author Catherine Steadman is both a successful actress and writer, with this her second novel. I think in a way her acting background shows in her writing as to my mind the 'fight scene' at the end was somewhat unrealistic – you know the kind where the hero has been hurt so many times that it's virtually impossible they'd still be alive let alone able to fight off an attacker. The story also unfolded at a steady pace throughout until the ending which felt overstuffed in a frenetic bid to wrap everything up in the last few chapters. It was almost as if the author wanted to keep the suspense until the last possible moment (which I liked) but then was somewhat left with too much to do in the closing stages.

That said I liked this. The cover blurb hooked me before I even started reading - a man found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak. And, I remained gripped right through to the (frenetic) ending trying to uncover who this man is and what happened to him? It was a truly creative, original and fascinating plot that really captured my curiosity despite (or perhaps because of) there only being two characters. Although both Mr Nobody and his doctor, neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis, are enigmatic, interesting, complicated and multi-layered, providing enough character on their own.

Through these two there were essentially two strands to the story, that of Mr Nobody and that of Emma both of whom have secret pasts – not that Mr Nobody can remember his. Disappointingly though it was Emma's past that dominated and was revisited again and again. For me though the headliner should've been Mr Nobody – after all wanting find out who he was, was what drew me to the book in the first place. Unusually for me I also really wanted a different ending, I wanted Mr Nobody to be somebody different to who he eventually turned out to be.

Obviously psychological thrillers are all about the twists and turns, and this had many all of which kept me totally gripped throughout. However, annoyingly many of these, including Emma's mysterious past, petered out to nothing, being quickly dropped or explained away in the final stages. So, in hindsight it seems they were only ever included as tension-builders.

What I loved about this though was the fascinating scientific and psychological insight into our minds. Through Emma I learnt (in layman's terms) how our brains work and the way illness or trauma can affect our behaviours and personality – not to mention our memories. It also provided a poignant reminder of the difficulties the medical profession face, particularly when managing rare cases, and how sometimes despite their expertise and best efforts people can unfortunately remain un- or misdiagnosed with devastating consequences.

It might seem like I'm being quite negative about a book I like and have given four stars but that's simply because this could've been amazing. Like I said it was an incredibly original and easy read, which gripped me from start to finish due to the fascinating characters and many twists, which meant that I really really enjoyed it during the reading. But, afterwards because many of the gripping strands ultimately proved to be irrelevant and Mr Nobody was someone I didn't want him to be, it was a bit like Christmas as in the reality of the day can't quite match the excitement of the build-up.

This book has been likened to Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn or for another with complex characters and back stories why not try Last To Die by Tess Gerritsen.

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