Book Title: The Naturalist
Author: Andrew Mayne
REVIEWED BY: DENNIS
Series: Naturalist #1
Genres: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction
Pub Date: 10/01/17
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?
If you enjoy the tv channel Investigation Discovery or shows like Forensic Files, then Andrew Mayne’s The Naturalist is the perfect read for you! It is a quick, dark read that doesn’t sugar coat the plot, while not explicitly getting too grotesque. The story starts off with Dr. Theo Cray being questioned about the disappearance of one of his past students, Juniper, who police claim has a direct link to Dr. Cray. After routine questioning, police confirm Juniper’s death as an accidental bear attack in the nearby woods. Dr. Cray, professor and biologist, can’t leave well enough alone because if Juniper was a dedicated student of his, she would know how to react to a bear in the woods. As Dr. Cray investigates the small Montana town that he’s visiting, he begins to see how a town crippled by drugs, poverty, and a lack of education can only continue on by keeping their darkest secrets hidden. Through Dr. Cray’s investigation, he realizes that things aren’t always what it may seem.
The Naturalist was very different read for me—it had a lot of science background in it that I was not familiar (nor really wanted to be familiar) with, while keeping me on the edge of my seat by keeping the mystery at bay. Dr. Cray was sarcastic, witty, and a profound protagonist for me. This book is approximately 400 pages, but the dialogue isn’t overtly sophisticated so you can easily brush through this read quickly. The Naturalist ‘s storyline was very original in a sense that it took key common themes (i.e.: drugs, town corruption, crime), and interweaving it into a robust plot development. I would also recommend anyone who enjoys anything by David Bell or Noah Hawley to definitely pick this one up. I immediately got Bring Her Home and Before The Fall vibes as I was trekking on with the story although neither book is similar in terms of content.
This book will not be for everyone—I’m telling you now. If you really aren’t into the multifaceted world of biology, genetics, DNA, etc; this isn’t the read for you. At points The Naturalist can be a little too technical and I had to catch myself from skipping through those sections. Once I was about 1/3 of the way into the story, I actually began to care more about the characters and was focused on finishing.
I was provided a copy of The Naturalist in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Wunderbooks PR, it was a pleasure.