I received an ARC (advance reader's copy) of this book for free from Penguin through the First to Read program for the purpose of honest review. My honest review follows--and don't worry, this is a no spoiler zone.
Double Vision by Colby Marshall is the second book in the Dr. Jenna Ramey series, but you needn't read the first book, Color Blind, to enjoy Double Vision.
Admittedly, I don't often read crime/thriller/mystery novels, but since I'm studying to be a librarian, I want to be decently versed in as many genres as possible. Not to mention, the gorgeous cover and the book jacket copy had me intrigued from the start.
Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
New from the author of Color Blind... FBI profiler Jenna Ramey has synesthesia, a neurological condition that causes perceptions of color to flash through her mind, triggered by seemingly unrelated stimuli. But she has learned to understand and interpret these associations. They help her do her job. They can help save lives...
A little girl has witnessed a mass shooting. What she knows may be the key to finding the man responsible. Jenna has been tasked with drawing her out, figuring out what she saw, what she remembers, and what it means.
But Molly is an unusual child. She is sweet and bright, and eager to help, but she has a quirk of her own: an intense preoccupation with numbers. It helps her notice things that others don't. It also leads Jenna into a maze of speculation that could turn into a wild goose chase while the body count continues to rise.
Jenna and Molly view the world through their own filters. In some ways, they speak different languages. Now Jenna must learn to communicate, to break Molly's code, to understand the mind of a murderer...
As I mentioned earlier, I'm a newbie to the genre so I don't know if some of the elements I liked about the book are typical of the crime/thriller/mystery genre or if they're particular to this book. Either way, there were several things I particularly liked....
I really appreciated the diversity in the characters. Dr. Jenna Ramey has synesthesia, her boyfriend, Yancy, is an amputee with a prosthetic leg, and Jenna has a daughter, Ayana, from a previous marriage and she's mixed.
Guess which one of these traits takes center stage in the book? The synesthesia. All too often I see books about someone with a physical disability and that character lacks dimension because all the character talks about are the challenges of having a disability.
Likewise, all too often I see Black/African American characters who are written as though they lack dimension because the whole premise of their characters are to talk about what it's like being Black/African American. While these perspectives are certainly valid, I feel they're overdone and don't explore the complex range of thoughts and emotions that these characters might feel just by being human. It's almost like in lieu of a personality, these characters are defined by one dominant trait about them.
I'm happy to say that Colby Marshall doesn't do this--all the characters are just portrayed as normal human people with normal human emotions. The characters are larger than life and therefore don't fit into the narrow boxes societal stereotypes often try to force them into.
I also appreciate the family structure the Rameys have. Jenna isn't your stay-at-home-mom who's supportive of all her husband's grand adventures stopping crime. She's educated, hard working and clever at her job, while her father and brother run the household and take care of Ayana. I like how Jenna is multifaceted and that she clearly loves her daughter, yet her entire identity is not derived from motherhood.
Furthermore, the clues take the reader on an adventure in Greek mythology, numerology, and religious conspiracy theory all rolled into one. While I wouldn't necessarily call Double Vision "academic" in the sense that it blatantly tries to teach the reader something, such as the case with literary fiction, you can definitely pick up a few trivia type tidbits throughout the story.
And the best part is that the perpetrator is the LAST person (or people) that you'd expect.
I was drawn in immediately from the first chapter. There's a steady stream of intrigue, so just about the time you're wondering where something is going, a big breakthrough or major plot point happens. In this way, the story keeps you on your toes.
If you're already a fan of crime/thriller/mystery books, you'll be right at home with Double Vision. If female crime-stoppers or badass women is your genre kryptonite, this is for you. Or if you just want a light reading page-turner as an escape, add this to your To Be Read list.