Updated on May 19, 2015
25. ‘Nobody True’ by James Herbert
When I was a teenager, I remember seeing Nobody True on sale in WHSmith. It was there for ages and every time I went in I would pick it up, read the blurb and nearly buy it. But for some reason I didn’t and now – years later – I’ve finally read it on the recommendation of a friend. Given my long will-she-won’t-she history with it, I really wanted to love it, but I’m afraid I didn’t.
This is a book about a man – Jim True – who is capable of having out of body experiences, that he can sort of control. One day, when he is away from his body roaming the streets in his ‘spirit’ form, he feels something strange and horrible. He returns to his body to find that he has been brutally murdered and mutilated.
Now he must come to terms with his own death and track down his killer in order to protect his loved ones, but he will uncover some disturbing secrets along the way.
It is a great concept for a book, but the execution wasn’t very good. Essentially, I think that Nobody True could have done with an editor (so maybe I can conclude that my editor hat is now permanently affixed to my skull).
There are times when the narrator repeats himself, comes to conclusions that we’ve already seen him make several pages before, and over-explains some of his more subtle points. There is a certain amount of padding too – it really doesn’t need to be as long as it is. Remove these faults and I think you’d have a rip-roaring novella.
The ending did take me by surprise, although I am notorious for not being able to solve whodunnits, so more astute crime readers might guess the killer way before I did. But there is another surprise revelation that was quite unexpected, and I don’t think many readers will see coming.
This is a book that stirs up some very thought-provoking questions (not least of which is ‘What would you do?’), but if you’re looking for a tight plot and literary execution this isn’t for you.
Why not read the book and let me know what you think?