Book Review: Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Book 2 of The Naturalist
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (March 13, 2018)
Length: 316 pages
Before I started Looking Glass, I made sure to clear my schedule for the rest of the day because I had a feeling I wouldn’t want to be interrupted. As it turned out, I was right. God help anyone who would have dared disturb me, it sure wouldn’t have been pretty! This was a book I finished in just one sitting, and in that time, you couldn’t have pried it loose from my hands with a crowbar.
This second installment of The Naturalist follows protagonist Theo Cray as he once again digs his heels into a case involving the missing victims of a serial killer. You can jump into it without having read the first book, but just bear in mind there will be some references and spoilers to his time in Montana if you ever have plans to go back and read it. In the aftermath of those events, Theo has become a bit of national celebrity for helping catch a prolific killer, but at the same time, his involvement in such a high-profile case has also made him anathema to the academic community. Stuck doing soul-draining work for the government, Theo finds himself drawn to the hunt again when a distraught father of a missing boy shows up on his doorstep with a request to look into his case.
The only problem? Little Christopher Bostrom disappeared nine years ago, and for most investigators this would mean a cold case with no chance of being solved. Theo, however, is scientist who finds patterns, and after crunching some numbers and doing some database searches, the results he finds are disturbing. Not only was Christopher a likely victim of a serial child abductor and murderer, there is evidence that this killer is still on the loose and active today. The only clues Theo has to go on are a couple of kids’ drawings and an eerie urban legend told among elementary school children about a mysterious figure called the Toy Man.
The author has done it again. I spent most of this book with my heart in my throat, because even when there wasn’t much action on the page, Mayne was able to keep up the intensity and fast pace with his vivid descriptions of the scientific processes and fascinating facts. Looking Glass was an electrifying book that never had me bored for a second. Because so much of what Theo does also involves computational biology, or the study of the development and application of biological data to generate patterns and models, readers with an interest in any of the related scientific fields will likely eat this one right up.
In addition, Theo Cray is fast becoming one of my favorite protagonists. As a vigilante scientist, he’s an unconventional hero, a bit socially awkward and tactless because he’s more used to dealing in facts and not feelings. He’s also frighteningly clever and fast on his feet, using what he knows of social and behavioral patterns to spin elaborate scenarios and identities for himself to get out of sticky situations. What’s more, ever since the events of The Naturalist, Theo’s heart has become hardened which has in turn emboldened him, making him more focused and gutsier when it comes to getting what he needs. When he’s not keeping me on the edge of my seat with his high-risk escapades, he’s making me laugh with his reckless yet ingenious stunts like that one particular incident involving an Amazon delivery box and glowing bacteria. At the end of the day, Theo Cray is a weirdo nerd, and I love him for both his intellect and humor.
As for the story, I won’t be going into too much detail because the less you know going in, the better it is going to be. Suffice to say Mayne knows how to get a reader’s blood racing. One small lead from a cold case ends up snowballing into a series of bombshell clues which lead to even bigger and more shocking discoveries. From my experience with The Naturalist, I already know the author is not afraid to go all out, even if it means delving into the realm of the incredible and far-fetched, though in the context of this tale it was easy to just follow along. I’m certainly glad I did with Looking Glass, because I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a book.
Hard to believe the first book could have been topped, but I believe Andrew Mayne has done it. I love this series so much, it’s almost ridiculous how badly I want to read more right now. I’m thrilled to discover a third book is already in the works, but the bad news is that it’s not listed to come out until early next year. Oh, this wait is seriously going to suck…
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Naturalist (Book 1)