Name: The Naturalist (The Naturalist #1)
Author: Andrew Mayne
Number of Pages: 382 (ebook)
Published: October 1st 2017 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Professor Theo Cray is trained to see patterns where others see chaos. So when mutilated bodies found deep in the Montana woods leave the cops searching blindly for clues, Theo sees something they missed. Something unnatural. Something only he can stop.As a computational biologist, Theo is more familiar with digital code and microbes than the dark arts of forensic sleuthing. But a field trip to Montana suddenly lands him in the middle of an investigation into the bloody killing of one of his former students. As more details, and bodies, come to light, the local cops determine that the killer is either a grizzly gone rogue… or Theo himself. Racing to stay one step ahead of the police, Theo must use his scientific acumen to uncover the killer. Will he be able to become as cunning as the predator he hunts—before he becomes its prey?
The Naturalist is a page-turning thriller and proved to be addictive reading for me. The story follows Professor Theo Cray, an academic working in bioinformatics who finds himself suspected of murder when one of his former students is found dead. So begins a hunt for a serial killer who most of the police are not convinced even exists.
Theo is an intriguing central character. He knows how to analyse information and data in ways that others may not see, to look for patterns and use his knowledge and skills to make discoveries and connections that are not initially obvious. This comes in useful when he finds himself initially at the centre of a murder inquiry. A former student turns up dead and Theo is brought in for questioning.
That would be alarming enough for most, but when the death is declared the result of a bear attack Theo isn’t happy. The evidence and the signs point to human involvement and instead of getting out and back to his usual life, Theo immerses himself in tracking the data and following where it leads, despite this putting him back under the eye of the police.
The plots drives on at a rapid pace that left me wanting just one more chapter before I had to put the book down as Theo follows the patterns and becomes increasingly convinced there is a serial killer operating in the area and that it’s been going on for many years. There are some wonderfully creepy moments throughout as Theo narrows down the options as to who this killer might be and where they might be.
Alongside all the action the story includes all kinds of science information and it’s delivered in a fascinating way without being overwhelming.
Some of the actions Theo takes as he discovers more evidence seems likely to raise suspicions against him again and yet he doesn’t stop, he’s so convinced there is more going on that random animal attacks. He puts himself in danger more than once and the lengths he goes to to convince the police become more and more extreme.
Following a trail that becomes more grisly with each revelation leads inevitably to an exciting final showdown.
I really enjoyed The Naturalist, and as it drew to an exciting and tense conclusion I was almost sorry I’d reached the end of the tale, but it’s the first book in a series and I would certainly like to check out more of Theo Cray’s adventures.