Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne

First Sentence:  The helpless man in the wheelchair thrilled him.
Dr. Theo Cray is a computational biologist who has established a reputation with the FBI as a hunter of serial killers and has been called upon to fulfill that role again.  At the site of Cray's previous case, an agent with no history of violence has murdered two of his colleagues.  But this isn't the only incident of violence on the site. As Theo investigates, he recognizes that he's up against someone as talented as he is and finds himself crossing the line to stop a killer.
Prologues, even when not so named and no matter how suspenseful, are a device unnecessary to a good book. There is no reason why this book could not have started with the first chapter, which is interesting and makes one suspicious of Q-Tips.
One of the attributes of Mayne's writing is his observations about people and human nature—"In parts of Africa even today, "witch children,” boys and girls born with albinism or other uncommon features, are treated as outcasts and killed for their supposed magical powers. … To be sure, it's one thing to murder a child for having different genders and another to make a joke at the expense of someone who is dealing with a handicap, but they're both acts of cruelty and dehumanization.'  The comparison of the two killers in Mayne's previous two Cray books is fascinating and thought-provoking.  It also leads to the age-old question—"Do you believe in evil?".
There is quite a lot of geek-speak and scientific information.  One may either focus on it and learn some rather fascinating bits of information, or one may choose to skim through it and still pick up rather fascinating bits of information.  Either way, one must pay attention as these passages can lead to sudden realization and/or twists.
Reading Mayne is not for the weak of stomach or heart.  What offsets it, however, is understanding that his character is operating for the greater good and that he has a conscience when he crosses a line—"Um, God, uh, forgive me for not believing. And forgive me for what I'm about to do.  Uh, may they all rest in peace."  We do also get flashes of Mayne's humor—"I look up to the sky as if I'm expecting Morgan Freeman to look down at me and wink, giving me his approval."
When Mayne creates a plot twist, it's a serious twist.  Unfortunately, the climax is a bit too fantastical and Theo's co-rescuers are opportune and improbable.  Fortunately, there is a great deal of humor among the suspense.
"Murder Theory" is, sadly, not Mayne's best book.  But, between the unnecessary prologue and the nearly wall-banging last sentence, there are very good characters, plot twists, and breath-catching suspense.

MURDER THEORY (Suspense-Theo Cray-Georgia-Contemp) - Okay
      Mayne, Andrew – 3rd in series
      Thomas & Mercer – Feb 2019


  1. Hmm....I wouldn't say I'm faint of heart, but I usually don't go for the gory stuff. Still, it sounds as though there are some interesting characters in this one, and I do respect an author who can do skilled plot twists.

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