It’s not often that a piece of narrative-based media – be it comic, film, book, game or anything else with a story attached – can truly surprise or shock, but writer Luke Smitherd has certainly crafted a tale that has plenty of unforeseen twists and turns with his 2020 novella, The Man with All the Answers.

When Rachel meets Dan, it’s pretty much love at first sight. There’s just something about him that makes her fall for Dan almost effortlessly. Yet there’s a nagging feeling of something not being quite right; he’s somehow armed with knowledge about Rachel that he shouldn’t be aware of – and, despite always having a convenient excuse handy, things are starting to get a little creepy. Is he a stalker? Is there something even more sinister going on behind this all-too-convenient façade?

Smitherd’s twisty tale grabs the reader right from the weird opening scene, which presents something completely inexplicable before we meet central character Rachel. Her encounter with the mysterious Dan will change both of their lives forever, with much of the book devoted to their relationship and the exposition that shows us exactly how – but, for a long time, not necessarily why – he knows so much about her. The story’s shocks and surprises are central to the book’s appeal, so it’s next to impossible to say anything more without spoiling the experience.

It’s well worth reading to find out for yourself though – and it’s a book that I read in just a few sittings, finding it very difficult indeed to put down. I hadn’t heard of Luke Smitherd prior to this book being recommended by Amazon’s algorithm, but he’s a popular and successful writer with a legion of fans known as ‘Smithereens’; on the strength of the tightly plotted, surprising events of The Man with All the Answers, it’s easy to see why his books would inspire such devotion. This may be the first of Smitherd’s books that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last.

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