Mastermind: A Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood Thriller

Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. (Theo Cray and Jessica Blackwood, Bk. 1). Sept. 2021. 332p. ISBN 9781542020398. pap. $15.95. THRILLER
Mayne (a TV host and authority on magic and illusions) brings two of his protagonists together (one from his series “The Naturalist” and one from “Jessica Blackwood”) in this series opener. When Manhattan disappears into a cloudlike void, disgraced FBI agent and former magician Jessica Blackwood is called in. She rescues Dr. Theo Cray (a computational biologist, a genius at seeing patterns in behavior) from foreign forces to enlist his help in finding Michael Heywood, a.k.a. the Warlock, who she is convinced is behind the terrorism in New York and in other cities. The Warlock has targeted Jessica in four previous books; he was imprisoned in the last (Black Fall) but has now escaped. He is using the Void to steal massive amounts of data to build a computing algorithm to defeat disease. Government authorities support him, but Jessica and Theo believe he has killed thousands in medical experiments. They must battle secret U.S. agencies while trying to find the Warlock.
VERDICT This high-energy tale reads like Wonder Woman and Dr. Who came together to battle the Joker in an over-the-top thriller that still entices readers to keep feverishly turning pages. Blackwood, Cray, and the Warlock are likely to appear again in future confrontations between good and evil.
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