Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But, at the same time, they leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.
That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People of Choice: a mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.
Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe. It becomes a movement. A social-media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers.
The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader who does not seem to exist.
How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they’re a member?
Nothing Important Happened Today is, in all honesty, like nothing else I have ever read. From it’s dark and disturbing opening, to the very last twist, this is a pitch-black thriller that will shock and astound in equal measure.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review, I should say that this novel comes with a number of trigger warnings. The books deals head-on with issues of suicide, self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health – and it doesn’t shy away from the details. So if you’re likely to be triggered by those topics, or are of a more sensitive disposition, this is not going to be the read for you.
Because Nothing Important Happened Today is as dark as they come, pushing the reader into ever more uncomfortable territory as the plot progresses. Told in a detached, almost aggressive style, it relates the stories behind the individuals who become the People of Choice.
These characters are not named. They are given numbers, personality traits. The Lovers. Ungrateful. Nobody. 225 – 233. But this doesn’t mean we don’t get to know them during the course of the book. The narrative flits back and forwards, giving glimpses into the lives of these characters. You’d think this would also give some insight into why they chose to become People of Choice. But there’s the rub – it doesn’t. These things, after all, sometimes cannot be explained. And that, in itself, is disturbing and frightening.
Or maybe there is an explanation, but only if you find the link. The invisible leader, hiding in the shadows. The spider in the centre of the web. Throughout the book, you get occasional glimpses into the head of this sinister individual and it is not a pleasant place to be. But Carver has done an excellent job of making his cult leader believable. You can hear the charm in their voice, see that charismatic countenance and unassuming persona.
And then there are the detectives. Because, alongside all the mind games, Nothing Important Happened Today is a first-rate thriller. There are a number of people hunting for the person behind the People of Choice. The police are desperate to find a link between the suicides. A retired officer with a link to one of the victims starts a desperate vigilante mission of his own. And a detective with secrets to hide is gradually being drawn to the case. It takes a while for the sinister cat-and-mouse game between the various authorities and the killer to really kick-off but, once it does, it’s as thrilling as they come.
Told in short, sharp chapters that propel the novel forward, this is a ‘sit-tight, hang-on, you’re in for a wild ride’ kind of book – if you’re anything like me, you’ll finish it in a weekend whilst simultaneously ignoring your nearest and dearest. Then you’ll turn the final page and be knocked for six when you realise how much the novel comments on precisely that kind of scenario. Because there are a number of social comments being made here. About connectedness – and the illusion of it – and about social cohesion and control. It’s definitely a book that made me think and challenged some assumptions.
Nothing Important Happened Today is a unique and mesmerising novel. With its dark and disturbing plot and whip-smart narrative, anyone daring to pick this up should be prepared for a compelling and page-turning read.
Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers, including the Orenda Books online store, Hive, Book Depository, Waterstones, and Amazon.
My thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until the end of the month so do check out the other stops for more reviews, content and more!