Friday, April 20, 2018

Looking Glass by Andrew Mayne

First Sentence:  Tiko kicked the deflated soccer ball down the alley, laughing as MauMau, the tan puppy with the chewed-up ear, chased it into the puddle, his too-big paws splattering mud and droplets everywhere.
Professor Theo Cray is trying to put his life back on track after having been responsible for the capture of a mass serial killer.  The father of a missing child has been ignored by law enforcement and sees Theo as the last hope for finding his child.  The only clue is the child’s bike still where the boy was last seen, and stories of “The Toy Man.”  As Theo investigates, it’s clear that this is a case of more than one missing child. 
Mayne has written an opening that tears at your heart but won’t let you stop reading.  One is drawn into the suspense almost immediately.  You are also drawn to the character—“What does your gut say?” “I’m a scientist.  I’ve trained myself not to have a gut.”  One is also drawn to the fact that Mayne is an author who truly makes one think—“The real danger is that the good guys will blindly keep doing bad things that they don’t see as bad.  It’s why people who would give the shirt off their back to help the poor and the hungry will then march against genetically modified food, even if such food products could save millions of children from blindness or starvation.  It’s when people who want democracy in the Middle East find themselves building military bases instead of schools and hospitals.”        
This is one painful book to read.  One is only peripherally aware of how many children, in fact, especially those from families of illegals, broken homes and those afraid to talk to the authorities are missing and that there is next to nothing being done to find them.   A major clue in the story is nearly as disturbing, but very effective for it so being. 
One weakness the plot has is the redundant references back to Cray’s previous case.  It almost seems to be a plot filler and takes the effectiveness away from this story.  There is, however, one link made which does work—“Don’t think just because you survived one monster you’ll survive the next.  I’m alive because I kept running from them.  Not to them.”   
Mayne does creepy well. He excels at creepy.  He creates visual images that may stay with one, but one certainly hopes they don’t.
The scientific information can, at times, be a bit overwhelming.  But it is fascinating and not so complex that one doesn’t get the gist of what is being conveyed.  Even Cray’s analysis can make one think—“Every murder has at least five important factors:  a victim, a means of death, a location, a time, and a murderer.  Solving for one or more of them can lead you to a solution, much like an equation, assuming they’re not all random.”   
The link between the killings is unique.  And then Mayne introduces the tried, true, and highly effective element of racing against the clock.
It helps that Mayne’s humor lightens the darkness of the events—“There has to be some other distraction that doesn’t involve a siren and dead hostages.  Shit. There is.  There’s actually an app for that.”  He throws in an effective plot twist, and some excellent advice--“Never believe anything that’s reported in the first twenty-four hours.  In the age of social media, this is especially true.”
The story contains a lot of information, some of which may not interest everyone but may well fascinate others.  One might wish for author notes. 
Looking Glass” is twisty, grim, and takes one to unexpected places.  While not Mayne’s best book, it keeps one reading non-stop from page one to the very end.

LOOKING GLASS (Trad Mys-Theo Cray-US-Contemp) – G+
      Mayne, Andrew – 2nd in series
      Thomas & Mercer – March, 2018                                                                                                                   

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