Actress Catherine Steadman (of Starz’s The Rook and ITV’s Downton Abbey) made a promising start to a second career as a thriller writer with 2018’s Something in the Water. Her new novel, Mr. Nobody, confirms this was no fluke; Catherine Steadman is a born storyteller. Perhaps it is her background in performance, but Steadman knows how to navigate all the necessary milestones when crafting a compelling narrative – the emotional connects to (and between) characters, the cinematic action set-pieces, the picturesque setting, and the tantalizingly revealed secrets, all culminating with a satisfying and unexpected resolution.
Mr. Nobody is the name bestowed by the media onto a man who is found wandering an isolated beach in the United Kingdom. Due to the unique nature of this man’s affliction – and the possibility that he is one of the rare genuine fugue cases on record – neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis is approached about handling his case. However, doing so would require Emma to return to the one place she vowed to forget forever – the location of a devastating event that changed her life forever.
Career advancement, skepticism, and undeniable curiostiy win out, so Emma Lewis packs her things for journey that could once again ruin both her life and that of her family. The more she studies Mr. Nobody, the deeper the mystery extends. He seems to know nothing of who he is – or was – and yet, he has an inexplicable ability to hone in on the secrets of those around him, not the least of which concerns Emma’s past. How is that possible? Who is this man?
Catherine Steadman controls the pacing of this novel throughout, never letting the action lag for too long, but always allowing time for the more in-depth moments to resonate with readers on an emotional level. Side characters are introduced who add richness to the canvas, even as Steadman is carefully negotiating the placement of all the puzzle pieces for her final shocking reveal. Though this is a misnomer because the truth is that this author has several surprises in store for her audience in the final act of this complicated story. Just when Emma seems to have figured things out, readers realize that just as she has done, they have followed a misguided path straight to the wrong answers.
Mr. Nobody cements Catherine Steadman’s status as a bona fide thriller superstar and readers will anxiously queue up to await the release of her next twisted tale.
This review is based on the audiobook version of this novel, which is read by the actress-author herself.