Mastermind (Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood #1) by Andrew Mayne

My Five Word TL:DR Review: Ridiculously over the top fun


This isn’t my first Andrew Mayne book and certainly won’t be my last.  I loved his Naturalist series and Professor Theo Cray has to be one of my favourite fictional characters.  With this new start the author brings together two of his favourite characters with the crazy professor teaming up with Jessica Blackwood (Angel Killer being the first book in which she makes an appearance.  A book I definitely want to read).  On top of this crazy combo he also brings into the story an evil mastermind that he has previously written about known as the Warlock.  Let the shenanigans begin.

To be honest I hardly know where to begin with this one.  It is a fun ride for sure and is completely over the top madness.  As the story sets out, well, how can I put this, New York City seems to disappear!  Surprise!!  Yes, I was surprised, fear not, it hasn’t literally disappeared, even though it seems to be little more than a dark hole,  NY has been plunged into darkness with no electricity, no services, no nothing.  FBI Special Agent Blackwood is called to the scene and immediately has her own thoughts on whats taking place here – although she seems to be at odds with those in charge.  Queue a risky rescue and getaway and Professor Cray is brought into the fray and not a moment too soon as the nightmarish attacks seem to be spreading to other cities.

These two are a force to be reckoned with for sure.  With Theo’s remarkable thought processes and Jessica’s street smarts the two make a scarily unpredictable yet effective team and this is just as well as they certainly get into a lot of trouble.

I don’t really want to give the plot away so won’t elaborate.  What I can say is this feels like the start of a very entertaining partnership.  I think there’s an element of trust here, both on the part of Jessica, who has to go with Theo’s outlandish lateral thinking, and on the part of the reader, who may be used to one or other of these characters but not used to the two together.  However, as ever with one of Mayne’s books I practically inhaled this story.  The pacing is just off the scale, there is a constant barrage of fascinating places and scenarios and I literally couldn’t put the book down.

Criticisms.  Well, one of the feelings I had relates not so much to this book as the slightly lacking feeling of completion with the Naturalist series.  Admittedly the author does a great job of rounding up where the professor went next and what he got up to but I still have a slightly bewildering feeling of incompleteness somehow.  The other slight issue is a feeling of rushing to bring both these characters into a relationship together.  I actually didn’t feel it at all.  Maybe it was too quick.  And I can completely understand the desire of the author to go down that route, in fact I think it’s a good plan, it just felt rushed.  The chemistry wasn’t strong enough and it feels like it should have been teased out a little more.

That being said I can’t deny that I am strangely addicted to Mayne’s body of work.  With his imagination I wouldn’t want to get on his wrong side.  This author seems to make everything possible and the way he explores the impossible is just a little jaw dropping.  

I would say for new readers, you don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. Personally, however, I think it might help to have a feel for both characters before delving into this one – just to gradually get a feel for things.  But, that’s a personal choice as I intend to go back and read the Blackwood series. 

As it is, if you want an over the top, slightly crazy, intelligent, madcap adventure involving two characters that make a rather formidable team as they tackle the slightly OTT Bond style villain and his plans to take over the world – then here you go.

Slight reservations aside I can’t wait for the next book.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 4*


Wondrous Words and Can’t Wait Wednesday : Mastermind: A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

Every Wednesday I take part in Can’t Wait Wednesday, I’m also hoping to take part in a new meme being hosted by Elza Reads called Wondrous Words Wednesday.  I’ll be combining these into the same posts as they’re both short and sweet.

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

MastermindA mysterious electrical storm plunges Manhattan into darkness. As a strange, smothering fog rolls in, all communication crashes. In the blink of an eye, the island seems to vanish into a void.

FBI special agent Jessica Blackwood and brilliant scientist Dr. Theo Cray know this isn’t a freak accident. It’s a sinister sleight of hand. Their greatest adversary, a serial killer and cultist known as the Warlock, has escaped during a prison transfer in New York. A depraved master of manipulation, he promised the end of days. He’s making good on it.

One by one, cities across the globe are erupting in chaos as they disappear into the same black holes. Even for two ingenious trackers like Jessica and Theo, there’s still so much to learn about the pattern to the Warlock’s madness. The voids are just a warm-up for something bigger. To discover it—to stop it—Jessica and Theo must descend into the darkest of shadows—and minds.

Expected Publication September 2021


This meme was first created by Kathy over at Bermuda Onion Blog and has now been adopted by Elza Reads.

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered, or spotlight words you love.

No rules just enjoy and for further info check out Elza Reads.

My word this week is :


My word this week is literally the title of my most recent read which is a thriller with a horror vibe that takes place during a terrible storm high on the mountains in a luxury hotel, that used to be a sanatorium.

A sanatorium (also spelled sanitarium or sanitorium) is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century before the discovery of antibiotics.

To be honest, the word ‘sanatorium’ has always given me an ominous vibe and in my brain I always connected the word with early asylums (which were very unpleasant places by all accounts).  I did a little reading about this and it does appear that some sanitorium were converted to asylums following the introduction of antibiotics for TB – prior to that, it was believed that clean air and a good diet were the best treatment – hence sanatoriums were usually set in remote places where the air was less likely to be polluted.

This got me to thinking about another word:


Now, to me- bedlam is a word that means absolute chaos but in fact it is actually a word that comes from the name of a notorious asylum in London. Definition:

an asylum for the mentally ill
1 : a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion There was bedlam in the streets after the verdict was announced. 2 or Bedlam : an asylum for the mentally ill. 3 obsolete : madman, lunatic.

If you want to know more check out this history site :

Anyway, this is the book that inspired the thought process: