By Jennifer Lynn Barnes.
From the back cover:
“Name: Cassie Hobbes.
Cassie Hobbes is joining The Naturals: a secret FBI programme for exceptionally talented teenagers. But when a new serial killer strikes close to the Naturals HQ, Cassie starts to learn all about mortal danger – outside of the classroom. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse Cassie and her friends will have to use all of their skills just to stay alive.”
A short synopsis:
Cassie Hobbes reads people, without even realising what she is doing she picks up on the clues offered by the person’s behaviour, personality and environment, their BPEs. It is this innate ability that flags her in the FBI system and leads to a proposition that will change Cassie’s life for good.
Agent Briggs offers Cassie a place on a secret FBI programme called The Naturals, there she will learn to use her ability to profile crime scenes and the perpetrators of crimes that are now cold cases. With her mother dead and her Dad in the USAF Cassie has no real ties preventing her from going. The fact that her mother was murdered five years ago and that neither her body nor her killer have ever been found is extra motivation for Cassie.
At Naturals HQ Cassie meets other teenagers, who like herself are Naturals recruited into the FBI’s special programme. Michael who gauges emotions, Lia an expert in identifying lies and deception, Sloane, the statistician nerd who under no circumstances should be allowed coffee and Dean, a profiler like Cassie who seems to take an instant dislike to her.
As a new serial killer begins to kill near the Naturals HQ Cassie and her friends become involved in the case in ways they never expected.
I bought this book on a whim, I liked the sound of the blurb but to be honest my expectations were not particularly high. Well how wrong was I? I was gripped after the first few pages and finished it in under 24hrs! This book is very well written, and fast-paced, just how I like my novels. I’d describe it as Criminal Minds for young adults, and boy do I love Criminal Minds!
The Naturals programme is a very original concept and Barnes writes in such a way that as the reader you believe that such a programme and such teenagers could actually exist. Maybe they do! I have a degree in Clinical Psychology and a personal interest in profiling and forensic psychology and I was happy to see that Barnes most definitely knows what she is talking about. I have since found out that she is a professor of psychology and it shows,
The Naturals is a cleverly written novel with a well thought out plot and wonderful characters. Each of the Naturals abilities are different, including Dean and Cassie’s even if they are both profilers and this makes for a very interesting and dynamic team. The twists in the plot were executed well, I did kind of guess what was going to happen though there was still a little surprise which was good.
Barnes is not an author that I had heard of previously but now that I have I will be on the lookout for more of her work. I will definitely be investing in the second novel in The Naturals series when it comes out this autumn.
I would recommend this book to fans of crime fiction and psychological thrillers.