Murder Theory

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 19 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

An absolutely unputdownable crime thriller that will have you up all night! If you love how Andrew Mayne weaves a detailed and,  intricate plot,  you’re guaranteed to be hooked from page one.
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Murder Theory is a great thriller that kept me turning the pages. This was the third book, but the first I have read and I will be sure to read the others. I would recommend this to others.
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Really enjoyed this installment of the Theo Cray saga! I was invested in the story almost right from the first chapter. I feel like we get to see Theo grow up a bit in Murder Theory and really take a hard look at his life (with Jillian's help). And the slight cliff hanger at the end was an awesome way to end it... gave me some chills.

*received a free copy courtesy of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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This was not only an entertaining read but also an educational one. I love nothing more than reading fiction and learning a thing or two from it at the same time. I thought at first that the author must have had some type of a scientist background, which doesn’t appear to be so in the author’s description. Clearly, a lot of research must have been done to produce a work like this, making it a commendable effort.

The story is refreshing with the hero being a computational biologist than the usual police/detective character. It was nice seeing from that point of view of how a civilian bypasses the inefficiencies of red tape and bureaucracy to hunt down the killer, albeit with the most questionable methods. However in my honest opinion, I thought that the faking of the Butcher Creek crime scene is not realistic at all, and downplays the prowess of police/FBI. 

Overall, this really reminds me of Robin Cook’s books, which are also medical thrillers with the doctor as the crime solver. Fans of this book will love the way Cook covers stronger and more intricate scientific facts.

In conclusion, this book is well written and well executed. So far, it is the first and only NetGalley book to score a 5 from me.
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The third book in the series and just as enjoyable as the previous two. 
I thoroughly recommend this book.
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Dr. Theo Cray has found two serial killers that no one - including the authorities - even believed existed.  It's paid off and he's become a government contractor and head of his own research lab.  Now he's been asked to unofficially consult on a bizarre double murder that has taken place at the site of the body dump for the Toy Man - a crime scene tech working the scene has disappeared, his two co-workers were murdered.  Once he's found, his MRI reveals a bizarre degradation of his frontal lobe and Dr. Cray has a theory that something was done to deliberately turn him into a killer. 

The FBI doesn't buy his theory, so Dr. Cray is off to hunt another killer - this time, one whose weapon of choice appears to be whoever he chooses to turn into a killer. 

I found Murder Theory an engaging, quick read and enjoyed the story.  Four stars instead of five because of a few minor plot points I found to be implausible, but Murder Theory is a fast-paced, enjoyable third installment to the Naturalist series.
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I did not read the first two books so I had trouble getting in the characters. I will have to go back to the first book to see if that helps.
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Solid story, but missing the creepy factor I loved from the other books. This is the 3rd book in The Naturalist series and while it is still enjoyable, it is my least favorite. 

Basic Plot: Dr. Theo Cray finds himself embroiled in another case of trying to find a serial killer. He is just coming off finding the Toy Man and now something bad has happened at the site of the Toy Man's killing ground. A couple people are dead and a forensic tech is a suspect. The tech would normally be the least likely person to be suspected of violence, but Theo suspects that something or someone has altered his brain. And whatever caused a violent streak in this tech, might be effecting others.

Starting with the positive, I really like the Theo character. He is smart and quirky and doesn't shy away from getting involved in some dangerous situations. The science element that is added to these books is really interesting and it's what makes these books different from other crime mysteries. I often find myself trying to decide whether the science stuff is real or even possible and for me, it's kind of fun. 

In this book, Theo finds himself breaking a lot of rules in his quest to find out what is driving people to violence. Some of what he does just isn't well thought out. I am ok with some reaching in order to drive the plot and make a good story, but Theo is super smart and it just didn't add up. My biggest disappointment with this book is that the book just doesn't have the scare factor or creep factor of the other books. Without the creepy factor there was just a lot of inner Theo monologues and a lot of sciencey (making up a word) stuff. The sciencey stuff works out well when it is balanced with the proper amount of creepy...but, just not enough creepy in this one. 

Overall, I like this author and this character and I would read another Theo Cray book...hopefully one with a lot more creepiness.
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Intelligent, Dark, and Suspenseful! 

Murder Theory is a tightly wound thriller with an intriguing lead. 

Dr. Theo Cray, a computational biologist, uses science and the darkness he carries within, to catch serial killers. I can’t say much about the plot of Murder Theory without giving spoilers, but I can say without giving anything away that Theo is the only person smart enough to identify and track down the killer. He breaks laws, pisses off the higher-ups, and puts himself in danger all in the effort to save lives. 

This is book three in the series, but the first for me. It can be read as a standalone--I was not lost or longing for additional information. Sufficient background on Theo and his previous cases are provided.

I really enjoyed this book. In the beginning, I was more than a little overwhelmed by the scientific theory and questioned whether or not to stick with it, as much was going straight over my head. It is very well-written and clear that Mayne has done his research, but I am just not a huge fan of scientific theory. I also, at first, thought the plot was a little too farfetched. However, I persevered and I am so glad that I did!

Theo’s character won me over. He is both arrogant and fascinating. His arrogance is not off-putting, rather it worked to build my confidence in his ability to catch the bad guy and save humanity!

Overall, this is a well-written and smart read with an ending that left me wanting more! 

Thank you to all of my GR friends who brought this book to my attention! 

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review.
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"I am not a Minion of Evil. I am Upper Management." (Unknown)

Andrew Mayne has sliced open quite the watermelon here. Thickly separated into juicy portions with a trail of sticky seeds.

Dr. Theo Cray wears his newly found reputation of serial killer killer like an impressive tattoo. It ventures into a dark universe well beyond his usual territory of computational biologist. Mayne introduced us to Theo in The Naturalist which is the first book in this series. I had Looking Glass #2 up at bat, but so like me on Christmas morning, I couldn't wait and jumped into Murder Theory #3. Mayne fills in the missing pieces with just enough backstory.

Our story begins with a crew of FBI forensic agents sifting through the crime scene in the aftermath of a previous serial killer. The agents have reported flu-like symptoms. Two of them die within days and one of them goes missing. Eventually the agent shows up, but everything about him seems altered. An MRI will reveal something jaw-dropping.

Theo runs his own government backed lab in Austin, Texas. He's been known to fly aboard a State Department jet now and then to investigate hush hush sites. Theo had even been presented with the challenge of pursuing a common genetic thread for terrorists. Mayne ladles on mighty layers of scientific secret sauce within these pages. Never fear.......his explanations are thought-provoking and easily understood while avoiding the deer-in-the-headlights look. It's amazing to think of the scientific horizons within arm's length for the future in crime investigation.

Is it the nature of the beast to become a monster without even realizing it or is it a so-called fine art gleaned from experiential life episodes? Andrew Mayne will crack the door open a bit and we, as readers, step into this bizarro world at a fast pace. If you get a chance to pick up The Naturalist, this will set the tone. Murder Theory ends with a gasp.......and we'll be hyperventilating until the next one gets here. Hunka Munka time, People.

I received a copy of Murder Theory through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Thomas & Mercer and Andrew Mayne for the opportunity.
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I loved this book and the cliffhanger ending - wow!!! It was my first read by this author and I will definitely return to read more from him. The biology  jargon got a little deep for me at times, but it was easy to move past it into the meaty details of the plot. Well done!
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The nitty-gritty: Mayne continues his series about computational scientist/serial murder catcher Dr. Theo Cray, with another stellar entry that will terrify readers with its “what if?” premise.

Well, Andrew Mayne has done it again. Damn these stories are so much fun! I decided on a whim to pick up Murder Theory over the weekend and raced through it in only two days. If you’re new to The Naturalist series, Dr. Theo Crane is one of the most complex, intelligent and maddening protagonists I’ve ever run across. Maddening because he’s almost too smart for his own good and has a way of getting himself into a heap of trouble, even as he’s trying to do the right thing. Theo has a habit of hunting down serial killers—by himself, since most of the time his theories are so out there that the police don’t believe him—and this is what makes Mayne’s stories so good.

Theo has his own government-funded lab now and has hired top people to help him run it. He’s been tasked by his boss General Figueroa to come up with technology that can determine someone who might have “terrorist genes,” but in reality Theo is concentrating on his own personal projects. When the story begins, Theo has just found out about a strange murder that's been discovered at the site of the Toy Man murders, Theo’s last harrowing adventure from Looking Glass. Three lab techs were taking samples from the site and doing follow-up work, but now two of them are dead and one is missing. Theo is reluctant to revisit the site where he recently went through so much trauma, but he agrees to help out.

When the missing tech turns up, a man named Daniel Marcus, it’s clear to Theo that he killed the other two techs. But how to prove it? When the FBI interrogates Marcus, there’s something off about him, which puts Theo on a circuitous path to find out what made Marcus go crazy and turn on his friends. With the help of an FBI agent from D.C., Theo gets down to business, utilizing his unorthodox scientific methods to solve the crime. But as the clues are revealed, Theo realizes that they have an extremely intelligent killer on their hands, and in order to beat him, Theo is going to have to prove that he’s even smarter.

You really don’t need to read the other two books in the series to enjoy Murder Theory, as it stands alone quite nicely. However, Mayne does reference events and characters from those books, so new readers might stumble a bit. For example, in the first book, The Naturalist, Theo’s girlfriend Jillian plays a big part in the story, and while she does make an appearance or two in this book, she’s mostly in the background. New readers may wonder “who is Jillian?” because Mayne doesn’t rehash the past (thankfully!), but readers of the previous books will appreciate these brief scenes, which show Jillian’s snarky sense of humor and her ability to put up with such a wild card of a boyfriend.

Once again, Mayne adds lots of fascinating scientific details relating to the murders, and this time the plot revolves around viruses. Every time I read stories about viruses I’m reminded of how terrifying they are, and this book scared me to death! Mayne resorts to info-dumping at times in all his books, but it never bothers me because I learn so much. The reader follows his thought processes as he solves the mysteries of the murders, and trust me when I say that Theo’s mind is an intriguing place to visit.

But as smart as he is, Theo lacks the ability to stop himself from doing some crazy shit. There is one scene in this book that went WAY over the top from Theo’s behavior in the previous books, so much so that I almost started laughing. Ultimately it moved the story forward, but it was very hard to suspend my disbelief. Theo’s actions are becoming more and more risky as the books progress, so again, new readers might be shocked by his flagrant disregard for the law, especially since he’s such a high profile person now, famous in his own right for solving some “unsolvable” murders.

I also thought the ending wasn’t quite up to par with the first two books, in regards to the excitement and tension that I’ve come to expect from Mayne. That’s not to say that it wasn’t exciting, but for some reason it felt a bit flat to me. There is a WTF twist at the end, however, that made me wonder what Mayne will do in the next book. I guess time will tell!

Overall, I just love this series. Andrew Mayne continues to impress me with his near perfect pacing, vivid characterizations and the sheer amount of scientific detail that he smoothly inserts into an action-packed story.

Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
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Dr. Theo Cray is a very different protagonist than I typically see in murder mysteries.  He’s a computational biologist and in the prior two books, he’s used his scientific methods to track down serial killers.  As someone working with him says “ You’re like a time traveler trying to explain forensics to a bunch of medieval monks who still think in terms of humors and vital essences.” 

Also, the  premise of this book is very different than the normal murder mystery.  Something at the burial site for the victims of the prior book is causing the technicians working there to become violent. Then Dr. Cray finds another situation of what he starts calling the Hyde virus (as in Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde).   What is the same and is starting to wear thin is the whole Dr. Cray against the government scenario.  

Andrew Mayne doesn’t make it easy on his readers.  There’s lot of scientific theory in all his books. I can’t imagine the amount of research he must do.   For those that like to be made to think, these are enjoyable books.  And despite all the science and AI, this is a fast paced story.  Mayne has added some enjoyable secondary characters to this book and it’ll be interesting to see if they come back in book four.  This one ends with a big cliffhanger.   

This is the third in the series and I think the reader would benefit from having read the prior two.  

My thanks to netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for an advance copy of this novel.
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I was tipped off to this series by my podcast co-host, and decided to jump straight into MURDER THEORY because it was about a mad scientist trying to create serial killers. After a rough start, I was happy to find that Murder Theory delivers on this ridiculous premise. With its short chapters and science genius hero, it has the feeling of a punchy 1970s pulp series (like, say, The Big Brain), and I was also pleased to see the character engage in actual detective work. I would totally be on board for more of this series, assuming Dr. Cray (!!!) can get out of this one!
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This is a story of "serial killer(s)  that at times is hard to follow with Dr. Cray using computers and logic to solve the crime.   But then he does go off the rails to prove his point when local law enforcement and FBI doesn't understand or accept his theory of how and why the crimes are being committed.  This will keep you awake at night thinking of all the what ifs.  I could not put this one down  even as I rolled my eyes with the computer  and logical analysis.
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4.5 of 5 stars

The crime mystery and thriller genres are full of protagonists who claim they will go to any lengths to stop a killer, but computation biologist Dr. Theo Cray will give them all a run for their money in this totally insane and off-the-wall third volume of Andrew Mayne’s exciting Naturalist series. Once more our hero is on the trail of a serial killer, but this time, he may have met his match. You might even say that Theo is hunting for a dark version of himself, a difficult quandary that forces him to confront some uncomfortable truths about his own psyche.

Shortly after the events of Looking Glass, Theo has resumed his work on top secret projects for the government. However, the repercussions of his last investigation haunt him still. One day, he is approached by an FBI agent whose colleagues had been working on the site of where Theo had tracked down his last target, which was also where the murderer had buried all his victims’ remains. Now two of the agents are dead, and a third one is missing, presumably having gone on the run after killing the others. But when they catch the suspect, the man appears in shock with no memory of what happened. His erratic behavior, and the fact that those closest to him say they can’t even recognize him as the same person they once knew, led to MRI scans of his brain. And the results are terrifying.

Now Dr. Cray finds himself faced with the prospect of a literal mad scientist who is using their vast genius and knowledge to kill. Whoever it is, they’re also an expert in virology and pathological behavior, as well as a master at concealing their identity and not getting caught. And, Theo fears but is loath to admit, they might even be smarter than him.

Our protagonist has always been a driven man, motivated by problems to solve because they allow him to design models and exercise his intelligence, not to mention his work also saves lives and puts murderers out of commission. This time though, his ego is also a major driving force, and while he may be cognizant of the fact, his competitive streak stills gets him into all kinds of trouble. Of course, Theo being Theo, he’s no stranger to trouble, and half the fun of these books is watching him try to mentally MacGyver himself out of some super tight spots.

Things do take a slightly dark turn though, as Theo is pushed to the limits. Our boy takes vigilantism to a whole other level in this one, and if you thought his law-flouting and risk-taking was extreme in the previous books, just wait ‘til you see what he does here. There’s a lot I love about this series, including the thrilling action and fascinating science, but a big part of the enjoyment is also in watching the main character grow over time. In The Naturalist, Theo was a fledgling serial-killer hunter whose naivete was a weakness that almost became the death of him. As a result, he hardened his heart in Looking Glass and welcomed the darkness. By the end of Murder Theory, however, we may be witnessing another change in Theo as he realizes he may have taken things a little too far and that his by-any-means-necessary attitude might be swiftly leading him down a dangerous path.

For this reason, I highly recommend starting the series from the beginning, though one could probably get away with reading Murder Theory as a standalone. A thing to note is that the book does make many references to Theo’s past investigations, in essence forming a thematic link between the serial murder cases in each book that only someone familiar with all three can fully appreciate. Plus, these books are just so much fun, it would be a shame to miss any of it by jumping in at a later point. I continue to be impressed by the scientific aspects, as well as Theo’s knack for spotting patterns in the data. Mayne’s storytelling is also once again on full throttle in this fast-paced no-stops thrill ride boosted with plenty of humor and straight up crazy twists. 

That said, Murder Theory probably wasn’t my favorite of the series (an honor that still belongs to Looking Glass) due to a couple minor faults. One, I found the early parts too heavy on the scientific jargon. Two, this book didn’t make me laugh nearly as much as the previous ones did! I guess I’m just going to chalk it up to the darker, more macabre direction of the story. And three, though technically this isn’t a real criticism, I found it way too short. Talk about leaving me wanting more; this was a book hangover that hit me even before I could finish! I’m not exaggerating when I say I would have happily gone for another hundred pages or two following Theo on his pursuit of the killer, and I was practically distraught when the book ended, because damn, that last line!

What more can I say, but I just loved this. I love this series. I love Theo Cray. Yes, things can get a little bonkers sometimes, but that’s what makes these books so amazing. Every time I pick up something with Andrew Mayne’s name on the cover, I know I’ll be in for a hell of a good time, and he hasn’t let me down yet. Can’t wait for the next one.
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I really liked this installment.  I have read the two previous and enjoyed both.  I thought the book was fast paced and witty.  I really liked the science aspect of it.  I am excited to read the next one.
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I read the first book in the series and rated it highly. I didn't like the second as much. This one was back on track for me. Mayne is a talented writer, and he creates interesting characters and plots. I'll try his other series next. Recommended.

I appreciate the free advanced copy for review!
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Another stellar entry in this constantly surprising, uniquely compelling series - which is as thought-provoking and morally-challenging as any series I can think of. Top marks.
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In Murder Theory, Computational biologist and serial-killer hunter Dr. Theo Cray is back after slaying dragons and killing monsters in the previous two novels. Well, okay, no dragons and the monsters were serial killers. Now there is something strange lurking in the dig around the last murder site, something that is making seemingly normal people kill and kill violently. While the local cops and even the FBI are quick to write this off as a one time psychotic break, Cray begins to see a pattern of behavior that could be viral based and, if it is, could spell potential problems if it falls into the wrong hands aka WMD used by any government or military. As Cray searches for the causes, the how and why of the virus and how it could be spread, he begins to trip ever so lightly over the line of good and evil and, at times, appears a little closer to the monster he once was chasing. Has the virus affected him or is this just part of his mad genius working overtime?

Mayne is an excellent story-teller. His writing style and quick chapters propel the story along at a rapid fire pace making this a thrilling ride to the finish. There are times when the story could get bogged down in the scientific jargon, and there is a lot of that, but Mayne makes the science so interesting that it lends to the excitement of the tale rather than detracts from it. It creates substance rather than has the reader skimming over the dry parts because, quite simply, there are no dry parts. I have no idea if any of the science is real but it certainly sounds authentic to me and I love it! And let me tell you – I’m a sucker for last lines that make me go “WHAT!?!?” and the last line of the book had me doing exactly that!!! I would read this book all over again just to get to that last line! You know me well enough by now that when I write that, it’s a killer ending! And in this case it may very well be just that!

Murder Theory could be read as a stand alone. There is enough back story that a new reader could pick up and carry on without reading the first two installments. I do, however, highly recommend the first books as well as his Jessica Blackstone series. They are well worth reading and highly enjoyable!

Murder Theory is available today at your local book seller or library. Many thanks to #Netgalley, #AndrewMayne and #Thomas&Mercer for my copy of this great thriller!
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