Review: Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

A psychiatrist treating a man with no memory discovers that her patient knows far more about her past than his own in a gripping psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of Something in the Water.

Who is Mr. Nobody?

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?

Some memories are best forgotten.

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.

Places aren’t haunted . . . people are.

But now something—or someone—is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes that he knows the one thing about her that nobody is supposed to know.

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman. Netgalley Kindle ARC edition. Published by Ballantine Books, January 2020. 320 pages. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Like most of the people who have picked up this book, I too was a huge fan of Something in the Water by Catherine. It wasn’t my typical type of read and I was really blown away with how much I enjoyed it. A few months back when I saw an advanced reader copy of the author’s new novel on Netgalley, I jumped at the chance to read it. I didn’t even read what the plot blurb was, I just clicked to get it! So, I was pretty excited to read this one.

Mr. Nobody starts off with a great hook. Just who is this man? What has happened to him? Ok, you got me, Catherine! I’m dying to know what happened. I am officially hooked.

I really enjoyed watching the story of Mathew (the Mr. Nobody himself) unravel. It was very interesting and I was completely stumped at where the author was going with him. There were so many little clues and tiny bread crumbs to follow but I had no idea what they all meant. When we finally find out who Mathew is, I’ll admit it… I was pretty surprised. I’m pretty sure my mouth was hanging open when I read what had happened. Out of all my theories (and they ranged from the silly to the extreme), I had not once thought in that direction. So I give Catherine a gold star for that. I really liked her plot twisty idea.

The story chapters were written where they alternate back and forth between the two main characters, Mr. Nobody (Mathew) and his Doctor (Dr. Emma Lewis). Normally I’m not a huge fan of this kind of thing, but it seemed to work well in this book. It was easy to follow and it didn’t get too convoluted with who was doing what when.

I really liked all the characters in the book. They had a good chemistry together and their interactions felt natural. Their flow was nice and I felt like they convey their emotions really well. They felt super relatable.

I definitely felt a connection with Emma and the subplot going on with her and her father’s death when she was a child. She had something bad happen in the past which has cast a shadow over how she lived her whole life. She felt haunted by it. Her memories grew and morphed into this horrible unreal nightmare.

At first, when I found out the truth about what happened to her father, I felt let down. Like, that’s it?? Just that? That’s not that big and scary! And I was kinda angry at the author for having such a let down of a backstory. I kept thinking about it and how disappointing it was.

And then one day, I realized. Shit. That’s the whole fucking point! What her father did… yes, it was bad… BUT. In her mind… in her memories of what happened… over time they got twisted and warped, turning this tragic event into something much more monstrous then it should have been. It made me stop and think about my own monsters and villains from my past, things that I’m scared of. Have I, too, let those bad memories twist into a giant nightmare of false memory monsters? Have I miss remembered a bad event and made it into something monumentally horrifying, when maybe it’s not? How many times have my memories of something “bad” turned a mole hill into a mountain? Have I let my own false memories control my adult life through fear? Hmmm. Something a little uncomfortable to think about, huh? I ended up really liking this subplot and the “disappointing” reveal about Emma’s father. It showed Emma (and us) that if something bad happens, don’t let the memories of that event get out of control and turn into something that it wasn’t… don’t let those false memories rule your actions and your life. Very subtle but powerful message by the author.

Now, the very end felt a little anti-climaticish. But only just a tiny bit. There was not a big fight scene or crazy whirl wind rescue or anything like that. It was actually kinda sad. I felt bad for Mathew and Emma for the situation they found themselves in. At first I was a little bummed about the slower paced ending, but after some thought, I felt like it was actually pretty fitting. This isn’t an action movie. It felt more believable for the type of characters in the story ( Emma is a doctor, not Laura Croft). Emma dealt with the ending in away that felt realistic for a doctor. My only big complaint with the end is that it felt a little bit abrupt. Didn’t ruin the ending or anything like that though.

After finishing Mr. Nobody, it took me a few weeks to think on the review to give it. I knew the review was past due for Netgalley, but it feels like there are a lot of layers to this book to ponder over. I knew I liked it, but I wasn’t quite sure of what all I wanted to say about it.

I did enjoy this book a lot. I found it entertaining and it moved quickly for me. A great hook that had me guessing the whole time. I was dying to know what the hell was going on all the way til the end. I was entertained the whole time, even though the pacing was slow in some spots. I felt like this is a nicely done character driven mystery. I liked it a lot, but not as much as Something in the Water. Still, Mr. Nobody is very well done and I will definitely continue to read this author’s future works.

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