The premise of The Naturalist was pretty cool – a computational biologist uses his unique skillset to create an algorithm that helps him find the likely location of bodies from missing people files. The writing was fair and the supporting characters are written pretty well. The problem is that the main character, who otherwise almost comes across as Asperger’s-level analytical, makes really counter-character decisions repeatedly through the story. He goes forth and does stuff that just don’t make any sense in light of everything he describes himself to be. And he just keeps doing it to an absurd degree. Even his self-talk is “why am I doing this?” “I shouldn’t be doing this.” “Nobody will believe me or understand why I’m doing this.”
So rating the book was hard. I liked the premise. I wish there were more books with a biology professor as the main character (please suggest any if you know of others). I liked the AI algorithm part of it. I liked the supporting cast and the writing of those characters. The book gets 5 stars on all of that. But the main character stuff mentioned above is a 2-star kind of deal. And the main character is key to a fiction book, right?