I like reading books by authors I haven’t read before. Every author has their own writing style, and each has their own perspective of reality. Reading a new author can be like seeing the world through another set of eyes.
The problem I have is that I can easily fall into a rut reading books by authors I like. The Amazon recommendation engine, my arch nemesis, doesn’t help either. Because it knows what I buy and what I read, it feeds me a steady diet of books by authors I’m familiar with.
Fortunately, there are a few ways I have of discovering new authors. One is the Amazon First Reads program where they offer up free books to Prime members. Most of the featured authors are ones that I’m not familiar with, but it can be difficult to find titles in my preferred genres. The Naturalist by Andrew Mayne was one such book that appeared on the list. It wasn’t in my preferred genre, but I decided to take a risk anyway and add it to my reading list.
If you’ve read some of my other book reviews, you’d quickly realize that I am not a patient man when it comes to reading. I like an author who doesn’t mess around. I like to be dropped right into the action and have the story move while the characters and the environment are developed around it. In that regard, Mayne didn’t disappoint.
The plot moves immediately when our hero, Professor Theo Cray, is considered a suspect in the murder of one of his former students. In trying to clear his name and identify the killer, Mayne takes us on a non-stop adventure. What makes the story more interesting, or possibly spooky or creepy depending on your point of view, are the detailed forensic analysis techniques Mayne describes as part of the plot. I can’t speak to how valid the science and technical details are, but they certainly seem accurate. Either way, it makes the story more realistic and immersive. It certainly helped to draw me in deeper.
Another aspect I liked about the book were the short chapters. Mayne’s writing is direct. He keeps things short and to the point, which made the book an easy to read page turner.
My only nit-picking gripe about the book is the ending. The ending scenes are a little outrageous and not as realistic as the rest of the book. I found myself having to suspend reality a bit, but I’m not going to let that take away from the otherwise crisp storytelling and writing.
The Naturalist is a Must Read in my opinion. It’s fast-paced, well written, and easy to read. It may be the first novel I’ve read by Andrew Mayne, but something tells me it won’t be the last.