DNF Review: I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers



The event that changed all of their lives happened on a Saturday afternoon in June, just minutes after Michael Turner – thinking the Nelsons’ house was empty – stepped through their back door.

After the sudden loss of his wife, Michael Turner moves to London and quickly develops a close friendship with the Nelson family next door. Josh, Samantha and their two young daughters seem to represent everything Michael fears he may now never have: intimacy, children, stability and a family home. Despite this, the new friendship at first seems to offer the prospect of healing, but then a catastrophic event changes everything. Michael is left bearing a burden of grief and a secret he must keep, but the truth can only be kept at bay for so long.

Moving from London and New York to the deserts of Nevada, I Saw a Man is a brilliant exploration of violence, guilt and attempted redemption, written with the pace and grip of a thriller. Owen Sheers takes the reader from close observation of the domestic sphere to some of the most important questions and dilemmas of the contemporary world.


Big fat DNF! I went into this book expecting an intense thriller but shut the book half-way through to an intolerably white, middle-class drab fest.

I knew this book wasn’t going to be for me when we get to the 30-page mark and there’s a grotesque, badly written sex scene. I haven’t had the chance to get to know the characters by this point, so why do I want to know how sensational their sex is? It just started on a major downer.

The writing:

To begin with, other than the bad sex scene, of course, I thought the writing in this book was pretty good… I then came to realise it was overly descriptive and way too detailed. This soon made the book far too tedious to enjoy. I will give props to Sheers for elements of his writing where his descriptions were eloquent, but they were few and far between his other pretentious ramblings.

The characters: 

The main characters in this book did my head in from page one. It’s instantly clear that this book is going to be about over-privileged boring white folk, and those are really not the sort of characters I’m interested in. There are deep set emotions in the main character, Michael, that does add some depth to his character, but Sheers’ never managed to build his characters well enough to garner any sympathy form me.

As for the neighbours, I really didn’t feel like we got the chance to get to know them well enough, even though they were supposed to be a big part of the story. I never felt I knew them very well, but the small moments we did get some insight into their lives, I ended up not caring.

This is a character-driven novel, not a plot-driven one, and that’s OK, as long as you’re interested in reading about privileged, artsy, fencing, white people.

The plot:

As I said before, I went into this one expecting an intense thriller about a home invasion or domestic abuse or something similar, but no. Without giving too much away, it’s nothing like those things. And then when it does happen, nothing comes of it and the story peters on in an extremely slow manner. I didn’t finish the book, however, from reading others reviews, the story doesn’t go anywhere with the “big” revelation…. so what’s the point?


This book was nothing like I’d hoped it would be and I’m cursing 18-year old me for getting sucked in by that train station poster to buy this. There are hundreds of better character-driven mystery novels out in the world, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

15 Replies to “DNF Review: I Saw a Man by Owen Sheers”

  1. I actually quite like lengthy descriptions, but not with bad sex scenes, hahaha 😀
    In fact i don’t think i particularly like detailed sex scenes at all cuz they usually just end up being cringy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah a random sex scene with characters you don’t care about yet can spoil the mood for a whole book. It’s like some authors sometimes forget that a sex scene is supposed to tell the readers something about the characters their emotional state at the very least, it shouldn’t exist just because, nothing in a book should. But it’s like when it comes to sex scenes authors just go “people love sex scenes, let’s leave that in”.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: