This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
23.07.20 / W&N (Orion) / Thriller-Suspense / Hardback / 272pp / 978-1474610483
Target Audience: Readers looking for a hard-hitting journo-thriller set in the troubled yet charming lands of South America. A story of revenge gone bad that leads to a daring and violent escape from a corrupt and far-reaching threat.
About How To Be Nowhere
Life is finally on the right track for reporter and recovering addict Andrew: he is slowly coming to terms with the murder of his photographer boyfriend Carlos, pursuing sobriety and building a new home with a new partner.
Andrew has almost forgotten about the story that ruined his life – but that story hasn’t forgotten about him, and a series of deadly threats forces him into helping the very man whose gang murdered his boyfriend and left him homeless.
A literary take on the classic chase movie, HOW TO BE NOWHERE is the sequel to Tim MacGabhann’s genre-busting and critically-acclaimed debut CALL HIM MINE, and a blistering thrill-ride deep into the fog of Central America’s murky present and tragic future.
In How To Be Nowhere we see the return of Andrew, Irish journalist and natural born trouble magnet, who managed to blow the case his deceased boyfriend Carlos began wide open and is now the subject of a country wide manhunt. The corrupt governor, who was set to stand trial for his part in the horrific and corrupt pipeline development, is let go due to lack of witnesses. Not too soon after, the men that belonged to the band of Narcos that destroyed his life, come for him. Once before they brought him the chance to get Carlos on front page news, now they only bring trouble.
Puccini may be a piece of work but he is also a devoted father. The governor’s men are a threat to his daughter’s life and he wants Andrew’s help to save her and bring the rest of the corrupt officials down. Andrew has his friends, and the memory of Carlos, that he needs to protect so he agrees to assist Puccini. They are soon the sole focus of a far reaching and powerful hunter force that are relentless as they are deadly.
Andrew’s mind, already taxed from the death of Carlos, begins to warp even further as the violence escalates and he just holds on for dear life. How To Be Nowhere is a pure adrenaline thriller where the bullets never stop flying, the blood always flows and freedom is only available to the last man standing. Tim MacGabhann both charmed me with his genuine appreciation of Central American life and haunted me with descriptive violence that I’m probably never going to cleanse from my mind.
I want to clarify that if you have even a squeamish bone in your body then tred carefully here. I’m talking bone shards under skin, torture, blood, pain and suffering. It does sounding like a lot, and it is, but mixed with the adrenaline spiking pace it does fly by as Andrew scrambles to survive. There is a lot of beauty and pensive charm to be had in this novel too. Tim MacGabhann routinely stops in place to really breath in (despite foggy pollution) certain moments. I appreciated those moments between the chaos and it shows how much TM loves Central America, its geography, religion and way of life.
For those who have read Call Him Mine and are thinking ‘hmm… this doesn’t really sound much like that novel at all’ then you are absolutely correct. Call Him Mine was a grief stricken fog of revenge, redemption and preserving memories. How To Be Nowhere is an angry backlash at those who continue to attempt to ruin Andrew’s life and both novels are completely different ends of the spectrum. Call Him Mine was words. How To Be Nowhere is actions. The action and set pieces here are almost legendary. It takes a lot for an author to get a reader to truly experience what is happening during a deadly shoot out or a car chase and TM wrote his with such fluidity and clarity that I was right there with Andrew every bloodsoaked step of the way.
Andrew’s transformation in this novel is spectacular. The continuous violence becoming a chrysalis for change. Between facing his addictions and still being overwrought about Carlos, who makes more appearances in both memory and physical form, Andrew’s mind was already fragile but events in How To Be Nowhere fracture it almost beyond repair with unexpected but incredibly interesting results. I was also surprised to see different sides to other characters like Marco and Puccini. TM shines new light in these hostile gentlemen and the development of their alliance with Andrew is another highlight of the novel.
Tim Macgabhann’s perspectives on the world, addiction, grief and pain are somewhere between curious and volatile but the way he puts them into words is amazing. I was truly on edge for the entirety of this novel, praying that Andrew just make it a little further, and it was TM’s vision, as well as his love of detail, that took me there. I really do hope there is a part three to this narrative as I am not ready to say goodbye to Andrew just yet.
About Tim MacGabhann
TIM MACGABHANN was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and began his writing career as a music journalist while studying English Literature and French at Trinity College, Dublin. Since 2013, he has reported from all over Latin America for outlets including Esquire, Thomson Reuters, Al Jazeera, and the Washington Post. His critically-acclaimed debut novel Call Him Mine was a Daily Telegraph ‘Thriller of the Year’ in 2019. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry has appeared in Gorse, The Stinging Fly, and Washington Square, and he holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He lives in Mexico City.