Steadman’s debut novel, Something in the Water, blew my mind. It was such a tightly crafted thriller, and it showed a clear and unflinching understanding of human psychology, so I’m not surprised at all that Steadman is an actress.
Mr. Nobody has all the makings of an interesting thriller. The idea is solid. The backstory of the main character is intriguing. There are twists and turns along the way that keep you guessing.
When a man is found on a British beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him, to international medical experts who are baffled by him, to the national press who call him Mr. Nobody, everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?
Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient in a small town deep in the English countryside. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for, and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same town fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.
I enjoyed Emma, the flawed main character. I appreciated her drive and fearlessness.
Unlike Something in the Water, this book switches perspectives throughout, and I wonder if it would have been more gripping to read if it didn’t. If we’d just stayed with Emma the entire time, I think there may have been more tension and mystery.
Regardless of the point of view, once I passed the midpoint of the book, things started to unravel a bit. The most I can say, without giving any spoilers, is that it didn’t all seem to come together. Some things seemed disparate, I guess you’d say. Certain mysteries and tensions were built up incredibly well, but then felt unresolved or perhaps a bit unimportant in the end. It felt like I was being led one way, then the rug was yanked out from under me, and not necessarily in a good way. And while all stories are contrived, the trick is to make them seem real and organic. This book definitely seemed very real during many of the scenes, but at a few points, I just didn’t buy it.
This is still a fun page-turner. I’m very glad I read it! But I’d say if you haven’t read any of Steadman’s work, maybe opt for Something in the Water instead.
A huge thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine at Random House!