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Tänk på ett tal

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Tänk på ett tal PDF, ePub eBook Jakten på en tankeläsande seriemördare. En psykologisk thriller i världsklass. Dave Gurney, en pensionerad kriminalare, får en dag besök av en gammal kamrat från collegetiden som har ett ovanligt problem. Mark Mellery har fått ett mystiskt brev. Det är skrivet på vers och slutar med: "Strax ska du få se hur väl jag känner dina hemligheter, tänk på ett tal vilket som helst u Jakten på en tankeläsande seriemördare. En psykologisk thriller i världsklass. Dave Gurney, en pensionerad kriminalare, får en dag besök av en gammal kamrat från collegetiden som har ett ovanligt problem. Mark Mellery har fått ett mystiskt brev. Det är skrivet på vers och slutar med: "Strax ska du få se hur väl jag känner dina hemligheter, tänk på ett tal vilket som helst upp till tusen och öppna det lilla kuvertet." När Mark Mellery tänker på 658 och tittar i det förseglade kuvertet finner han exakt samma tal där och orden: "Förvånar det dig att jag visste att du skulle tänka på 658?" Vem gömmer sig bakom avsändaren X Arybdis? Vem är det som kan läsa hans tankar? Vem är det som vet vilket tal han spontant skulle välja? I brevet antyds också Marks förflutna som alkoholist, en mörk period i livet som han trott att han för alltid lämnat bakom sig. Fylld av fruktan ber Mark att Dave Gurney ska hjälpa honom. Gurney är till en början mest road av det mystiska brevet. Men när Mark efter ett par veckor hittas död med uppskuren hals på sin egendom och flera mord inträffar, där offren fått samma typ av brev, finner sig Gurney plötsligt indragen i den dödliga jakten på en intelligent psykopat och seriemördare där även hans eget förflutna blir ett hot.

30 review for Tänk på ett tal

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Do you believe in Fate? I do, because I thought I’d never see you again--and then one day, there you were. It all came back: how you sound, how you move--most of all, how you think. If someone told you to think of a number, I know what number you’d think of. You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. Think of any number up to a thousand--the first number that comes to mind. Picture it. Now see how well I know your secrets. Open the little envelope.” How would someone know a random number picked ”Do you believe in Fate? I do, because I thought I’d never see you again--and then one day, there you were. It all came back: how you sound, how you move--most of all, how you think. If someone told you to think of a number, I know what number you’d think of. You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. Think of any number up to a thousand--the first number that comes to mind. Picture it. Now see how well I know your secrets. Open the little envelope.” How would someone know a random number picked out of a 1000 possibilities? It is the first baffling aspect of this case. It is disconcerting to think that someone you don’t know would know you well enough to correctly guess the number you would pick. Is it a guess? Retired Detective Dave Gurney is approached by one of those friends that it takes him a while to remember how he knows this person. An acquaintance might be a better term to use, but when people need your help they tend to overstate the closeness of your relationship. Mark Mellery has a problem that he doesn’t feel comfortable involving the “bumbling” police about, given his mild celebrity and his clinic business for helping discretion conscious, miserable, wealthy people. We can’t have the rich people experiencing any level of inconvenience. Owning beach houses and red Porsches doesn’t seem to make people any happier than those people who own single wide trailers and Chevy pickups with rusted fenders. He calls Gurney. An interesting aspect of this book is the decided distrust of law enforcement that crops up at several points in the novel. Even Gurney experiences a harassment situation with an officer that set my teeth on edge because it reminded me of a recent encounter of my own with law enforcement overreach. Gurney pulls out his retired police officer card and is able to diffuse the situation quickly, but he could tell the officer was disappointed he would not be able to push him around. Bad apples spoil a barrel, which is unfortunate because there are terrific police officers who truly are working to serve and protect. Serve and protect, not harass and bully. What begins as a puzzle soon becomes deadly. What do these obtuse poems being sent to Mellery really mean? The poet is playing a game. According to Gurney’s wife Madeleine, he has a secondary agenda beyond what is beginning to look like a revenge obsession.”He wants to prove that you’re a pack of idiots” The plot is fascinating and had me pondering all the probabilities while I was away from the book, doing those other things that always keep us from our reading. What really makes the book go beyond just a thriller is the relationship between Dave and Madeleine. They experienced a terrible tragedy together, and now they are trying to adapt to his retirement. It is evident that Madeleine is more ready for him to be retired than he is. ”His mind worked exceptionally well in a certain way, and the greatest satisfactions in his life had come from applying that intellectual gift. He had a supremely logical brain and a finely tuned antenna for discrepancy. These qualities made him an outstanding detective.” Madeleine is not happy that he has taken on this case. Her rebukes are mild, yet effective. Gurney loves working on cases. He is proud of all the murderers he has put behind bars over the years and is considered a legend by many in his profession. I love the fact that he appreciates Madeleine’s intelligence, and as he works through aspects of this investigation, he frequently asks for her advice. Sometimes, when people have been married a long time and have collected some heavy baggage along the way, they need to look for and remember those things they liked about that person before life started inflicting wounds. ”He studied her face. He was at a loss for words to capture what he saw. It was as if all the radiance of the snow-covered landscape were reflected in her expression and the radiance of her expression was reflected in the landscape.” She wants him away from all that death and mayhem, but he never feels more alive than when he is hunting for a killer. ”He generally viewed a homicide as a puzzle to be solved, a murderer as an opponent to be outmaneuvered. He studied the facts, figured the angles, tripped the snares, and delivered his quarry into the maw of the justice system.” He is very good at seeing the evidence instead of the horror. The plot is fascinating. John Verdon deftly leads us from puzzlement to amazement as the missing pieces are found to form a picture of true insanity. The grand finale provides one revelation after another as we discover the darkness behind the poetry. There are many moments of self-discovery for several of the characters as the truth has them questioning what they know about themselves. Gurney is especially self-reflective as he tries to fathom who he is supposed to be now. This wrestling with inner fears adds a layer of depth to the plot that makes this thriller more literature than thriller. Highly recommended! If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Arah-Lynda

    There is a new voice in psychological thrillers and his name is John Verdon. Think of a Number is an unbelievably, excellent debut novel. This one will grab you from the get go! The suspense builds, the plot thickens, your heart races, your palms sweat, the pace accelerates and you tighten your grip to navigate the twists and turns coming at break neck speed. Good thing the pages fairly turn themselves as you will need both of your hands to hold on. This book is unputdownable! The writing is cle There is a new voice in psychological thrillers and his name is John Verdon. Think of a Number is an unbelievably, excellent debut novel. This one will grab you from the get go! The suspense builds, the plot thickens, your heart races, your palms sweat, the pace accelerates and you tighten your grip to navigate the twists and turns coming at break neck speed. Good thing the pages fairly turn themselves as you will need both of your hands to hold on. This book is unputdownable! The writing is cleanly eloquent, very intelligent and no doubt, highly quotable with a full cast of beautifully crafted, well imagined and colourfully scripted characters that are both unique and memorable. Nothing disappoints, even the ending is eerily apt. "How many bright angels can dance on a pin? How many hopes drown in a bottle of gin?" Get ready you are going to love this one!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sam Quixote

    I made it to page 20 of this mediocre "thriller" before throwing in the towel. I realise that it's not giving it much of a chance, how could any writer bring energy or develop a plot in that time? Well some writers have, notably Michael Connelly and Stephen King, which is probably why they're as famous as they are. John Verdon isn't much of a writer though. Here are some examples of his awful writing that made me put the book down: "He realised that planting tulip bulbs on a glorious Indian-summe I made it to page 20 of this mediocre "thriller" before throwing in the towel. I realise that it's not giving it much of a chance, how could any writer bring energy or develop a plot in that time? Well some writers have, notably Michael Connelly and Stephen King, which is probably why they're as famous as they are. John Verdon isn't much of a writer though. Here are some examples of his awful writing that made me put the book down: "He realised that planting tulip bulbs on a glorious Indian-summer day in a hilltop garden overlooking a rolling panorama of crimson autumn woods and emerald pastures under a cobalt sky was not a particularly onerous assignment." p.9. Could he cram in any more cliched modifiers into that overlong and breathless sentence? But it was the exposition that did it for me. After 10 pages of the main character feuding with his wife over nothing, he meets an old friend he hasn't seen in a while: "Davey Gurney! Back at Fordham they used to say you looked like Robert Redford in All the President's Men. Still do - haven't changed a bit! If I didn't know you were forty-seven like me, I'd say you were thirty!". p.20. Ouch! Anyone else stung by the information dump made by this character? So now we know the main character's age and physical description, all clumsily spilled out by a character in dialogue that doesn't even sound vaguely real. Factor in the cheesy chapter headings "Trouble in Paradise" and "I know you so well I know what you're thinking" and I was finished with this tripe. Try something else, the writing in this book is barely above high school standard and about as sophisticated as a happy meal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    James Thane

    Dave Gurney has recently retired from his job as one of the NYPD's most talented homicide investigators. He's moved to a rural area in upstate New York and is attempting to rebuild his relationship with his wife, Madeleine, who has always been forced to take a back seat to his job. But then Dave receives a plea for help from Mark Mellery, an old college classmate, who has received a threatening communication--a poem, actually--from someone who claims to know his most intimate secrets. To prove t Dave Gurney has recently retired from his job as one of the NYPD's most talented homicide investigators. He's moved to a rural area in upstate New York and is attempting to rebuild his relationship with his wife, Madeleine, who has always been forced to take a back seat to his job. But then Dave receives a plea for help from Mark Mellery, an old college classmate, who has received a threatening communication--a poem, actually--from someone who claims to know his most intimate secrets. To prove the point, the poet instructs Mellery to pick a number up to 1000 and then open another, smaller, envelope that was sent along with the threatening lines. Mellery picks the number 658 and is stunned to open the second envelope and discover that his adversary has correctly predicted the choice. Mellery asks Gurney for advice, but when Gurney suggests that Mellery should bring in the police, Mellery refuses for fear that it would cause complications in his professional life. Despite his wife's misgivings, Gurney agrees to help his friend and thus goes to work with one if not both hands tied behind his back. To say any more would be to give too much away, but what follows is an excellent suspense novel that rises far above the average thriller, in which Dave Gurney matches wits with an extremely interesting and intelligent villain who has a very deep agenda. A crucial subplot involves the relationship between Dave and Madeleine and the end result is a gripping story with very well-drawn and sympathetic characters. Think of a Number is an excellent debut novel that should appeal to anyone who enjoys a compelling, well-written story. I can hardly wait to read John Verdon's second book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Magdalen

    I was actually looking forward to reading this, and man am I disappointed. The things I didn't like were firstly and most importantly the writing! If there wasn't a picture of the author I would have guessed that this book was written by a 15 year old. If you can ignore all the cliches *rolls eyes* and the repetitions and you don't give two cents about it you shall be fine. I wasn't. Other than that, I was let down by the killer. See John Verdon literally offered the killer's identity in a plate I was actually looking forward to reading this, and man am I disappointed. The things I didn't like were firstly and most importantly the writing! If there wasn't a picture of the author I would have guessed that this book was written by a 15 year old. If you can ignore all the cliches *rolls eyes* and the repetitions and you don't give two cents about it you shall be fine. I wasn't. Other than that, I was let down by the killer. See John Verdon literally offered the killer's identity in a plate if you were paying close attention. And I hate it when I am able to figure out who the killer is and by no means am I trying to sound cocky. I love to be surprised but it didn't happen this time. Last but not least, the action. The first half of the book took the longer to read because it was flat. The second part I finished it in a day but when the story started to unfold I got bored again. If a book doesn't make your blood run cold and keep you at the edge of the seat how on earth can you enjoy it to the fullest? The characters were interesting though. To sum up, if you are looking for a fine book to pass your time pick it up. If you demand more than that then this book is not for you.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    First and most importantly, this was incredible. This is not your standard run of the mill thriller. This will stretch the grey matter that lies between your ears. For once all the testimonials on the cover are accurate, this is the best thriller I have read in a long time. Dave Gurney, a highly venerated ex NYPD detective, is living the quiet life and enjoying his new hobby of artistically enhancing mug shots of convicted serial killer. Out of the blue Dave gets a phone call from an old school First and most importantly, this was incredible. This is not your standard run of the mill thriller. This will stretch the grey matter that lies between your ears. For once all the testimonials on the cover are accurate, this is the best thriller I have read in a long time. Dave Gurney, a highly venerated ex NYPD detective, is living the quiet life and enjoying his new hobby of artistically enhancing mug shots of convicted serial killer. Out of the blue Dave gets a phone call from an old school mate telling Dave that he is getting these really weird ominous poems sent to him. The friend is in a real state, begging Dave to help him. With some reluctance Dave agrees to look into things. Little did Dave know that this was about to consume every waking and sleeping moment of his life. Dave tries to convince his friend to go to the police but to no avail. When Dave hears that his friend been killed, with his head almost severed from his body, Dave goes to the police to explain his involvement in the case. When the DA discovers that Gave Gurney is THE Dave Gurney he asks Dave to come on board as a special investigator for the District Attorney. The friend’s death whilst gruesome is also intriguing because of the amount of impossible evidence, lots of evidence, but no clues what so ever. This is where your grey matter comes into play. How does Dave make the implausible plausible? As I write this I realise that Dave is really a modern day Sherlock Holmes. As the body count mounts so does the tension but the tension reaches breaking point when Dave learns he is to be the killers’ next victim. As I said earlier, this is a cut above your average thriller. Highly recommended 5/5 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Given a range of 1-1000, which number would you choose if prompted, "Think of a number...?" How would you react if a total stranger could correctly guess that number on the first try? Amazed and scared? That's the premise behind this psychological thriller and it was very entertaining. If you like a book with a little intellectual "oomph," you will enjoy this one. Although I guessed the villain before the end of the story, I was stumped on how he pulled off the trick. Everything is explained and Given a range of 1-1000, which number would you choose if prompted, "Think of a number...?" How would you react if a total stranger could correctly guess that number on the first try? Amazed and scared? That's the premise behind this psychological thriller and it was very entertaining. If you like a book with a little intellectual "oomph," you will enjoy this one. Although I guessed the villain before the end of the story, I was stumped on how he pulled off the trick. Everything is explained and it makes sense. Detective Dave Gurney is brilliant but has his own demons in hiding, and they make an appearance in this case. I will investigate other books by this author! I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was rather bland, but I won't hold that against the author. :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dee Dee Walker

    I just finished this book and I have to say that I was quite disapointed. I began this book with raving reviews. It wasn't until a was about half way through that I started to rethink how great this book was. I have to confess that I was totally caught up with the mystery of how the killer seems to read minds. Put quite simply, the killer ask the victim, via a letter, to think of a number and the killer professes to know what that number will be. The number is in a sealed envelope. The number is I just finished this book and I have to say that I was quite disapointed. I began this book with raving reviews. It wasn't until a was about half way through that I started to rethink how great this book was. I have to confess that I was totally caught up with the mystery of how the killer seems to read minds. Put quite simply, the killer ask the victim, via a letter, to think of a number and the killer professes to know what that number will be. The number is in a sealed envelope. The number is correct! Interesting, right???? Throughout the book there are more little riddles. The psycopath seems to be brilliant and stumps the police and even the impressive retired detective Gurney. Here is another flaw. Impressive detective Gurney didn't seem all of that impressive to me. In fact, I thought he was quite obtuse. He didn't seem to have any answers until the end.( Even then he didn't have all of the answers.) Dispite this little flaw, I did enjoy the first half of the book. All of the mysteries were fasinating and kept me highly engaged. I pressed on because I could not wait to find how all of the mysteries and questions that were building on one another were going to culmimate into this profound finally. Then it happened. The big let down. The explination of the mysterious disapering footprints in the snow. I found myself thinking "Am I really supposed to buy this? The author couldn't think of anything better than this?" From this point I was constantly disapointed. The explinations of the mysteries seemed very implausible and basic. There was no shocking suprise. No twists or turns. I would have loved for this author to have been able to come up with something that didn't think of. Something a little more unique. Overall, my biggest complaint is that I was not able to buy into the explinations the author gave. Oh yeah, did I mention that detective Gurney is not a likable character? He is flat and emotionaly unavailible to his family or the reader. I really didn't care what happened to him. The only character in the book that showed any promise was Gurney's wife and she is not present enough. She also seems to be much smarter that Gurney. Maybe she should be the brilliant detective....

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rohit Enghakat

    Fabulous thriller. This is one author to watch out for. This was his debut novel and it was engrossing right till the end. The title was intriguing and I was expecting a roller coaster of a book. i was not disappointed. The story is about a retired cop Dave Gurney who is contacted by one of his classmates about letters / poems received from a stranger. Next thing you know, the friend drops dead and Dave is dragged into the murder investigation. More bodies fall and Dave is involved in a chase to Fabulous thriller. This is one author to watch out for. This was his debut novel and it was engrossing right till the end. The title was intriguing and I was expecting a roller coaster of a book. i was not disappointed. The story is about a retired cop Dave Gurney who is contacted by one of his classmates about letters / poems received from a stranger. Next thing you know, the friend drops dead and Dave is dragged into the murder investigation. More bodies fall and Dave is involved in a chase to hunt down the serial killer. There are two main characters, Dave and Madeleine, his second wife. Dave's character is that of a troubled, guilt-ridden, workaholic cop who can't entirely get over the break-up of his first marriage and death of his first son. Madeleine's character is not fully developed, although interestingly, she helps solve the crime in a major way. The book is fast paced and keeps one on tenter-hooks throughout although the setting feels gloomy in places.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    A sensational debut novel. It left my mind in knots and me uttering "WTF" on a regular basis.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    Think of a number between 1 and 1,000: Go on, first one that enters your head. 7. So John Verdon arrives on the scene with a cliche-ridden brick of a book about a genius detective whose obsessive behaviour is damaging his marriage and so he has retired from the NYPD to upstate NY where everything will be much better...if he doesn't get dragged into solving a mystery for an old college mate who is being sent freaky hand-written messages by a scary person who seems to know more about the recipient t Think of a number between 1 and 1,000: Go on, first one that enters your head. 7. So John Verdon arrives on the scene with a cliche-ridden brick of a book about a genius detective whose obsessive behaviour is damaging his marriage and so he has retired from the NYPD to upstate NY where everything will be much better...if he doesn't get dragged into solving a mystery for an old college mate who is being sent freaky hand-written messages by a scary person who seems to know more about the recipient than is reasonable for anyone. It's obvious where this is going to go and it does, but nevermind - Verdon has crafted a page-turner with vivid even if off-the-shelf characters. There's a technique he uses to show off his protagonist's skills. In group interactions he likes to set up a moron (always a bloke) and a sharply perceptive and well educated woman to compare and contrast with his hero. In fact he'll try to squash in several types of moron if he can. No wonder he was the most celebrated detective in NYPD history with all those other idiots about - in fact it's amazing any crimes get solved now he's retired - oh! They don't - he has to come back and do it for them... There are zillions of other books out there about psychos and genius detectives but most of them are far less worthy of your time than this one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vaso

    It is the first book of this writer that I 've read, and I am excited!!! A very nice story, with a lot of mystery!!!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Smith

    Dave Gurney was the star homicide detective of his generation. After a much decorated career he pulled the plug at the age of 47 and moved to the Catskills to farm and paint. It’s made clear the he and his wife are having their personal challenges: she thinks he’s not really been able to leave his job behind and truly move on and they both face an ongoing struggle to deal with the loss of their four-year-old daughter, some years ago. And then Dave gets a call from an ex-classmate he can barely r Dave Gurney was the star homicide detective of his generation. After a much decorated career he pulled the plug at the age of 47 and moved to the Catskills to farm and paint. It’s made clear the he and his wife are having their personal challenges: she thinks he’s not really been able to leave his job behind and truly move on and they both face an ongoing struggle to deal with the loss of their four-year-old daughter, some years ago. And then Dave gets a call from an ex-classmate he can barely remember, telling of a strange series of notes he’s received. It looks like Dave’s detective skills might be once more in demand. 
 The initial note asked it’s recipient to think of a number between 1 and 1000 and then, in a separate envelope, correctly predicted the number. Subsequent notes comprised taunts of the ‘I know everything about you’ nature and personal threats. Dave agrees to help his friend but then events escalate and suddenly Dave is embroiled in a murder case. And it soon becomes clear that other people are getting similar messages. This is a quirky case, written in a style that reminded me somewhat of Jeffery Deaver. The messages are usually in the form of cryptic poems and deciphering the coded meaning is proving challenging. But what of the trick with the numbers, how was that done? I did have some doubts that the police could and should have been involved earlier but this and other potential anomalies are dealt with reasonably well by the author, and in Gurney the author has developed a highly logical, if slightly dour, front man. Its an entertaining mystery and I enjoyed the way Verdon strung it all together. I have to say that I was gripped all the way through and I’ve already stumped up for a second book featuring the retired detective.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Harry

    It's 9PM and I'm thinking: "I'll lay in bed for a bit, read and call it a night. Gotta get up early, wake my daughter up, fix her lunch, get breakfast ready and then take her to school." The book I'm reading is John Verdon's latest: Let the Devil Sleep. The plate that sits on top of the chimney on the roof sends the sound of rain - like soft staccato bullets - down the chimney chute into the bedroom. I hit the power switch on my Kindle and focus on the page before me. After reading a few hundred It's 9PM and I'm thinking: "I'll lay in bed for a bit, read and call it a night. Gotta get up early, wake my daughter up, fix her lunch, get breakfast ready and then take her to school." The book I'm reading is John Verdon's latest: Let the Devil Sleep. The plate that sits on top of the chimney on the roof sends the sound of rain - like soft staccato bullets - down the chimney chute into the bedroom. I hit the power switch on my Kindle and focus on the page before me. After reading a few hundred detective novels the authors, titles, and reviews sort of all blend together and honestly, if it weren't for my Kindle I wouldn't remember which ones I've read and which ones I haven't. That's not to say that the books are forgettable, it's just the conscious mind can only hold that much info and I suck at pulling stuff out of my subconscious at will. But, I can always remember a character that refuses to disappear into my subconscious. When finishing a book, I always remember Dave Gurney. He doggedly pops into my head as I search for another novel and I think: "I wish there were another like-Dave-Gurney series I could start on." Or, "I wonder if Verdon's completed his next book yet?". And then I search Goodreads to no avail. Sucks right, the waiting? Verdon isn't a prolific writer in the sense of say...John Locke who pushes out novels every couple of months (some not so great, some that are). Verdon's only got 3 novels I'm aware of and I'm reading his third. Shocked, I glance up from my book as the soft platter on the chimney has turned into what sounds like an AK-47 ripping apart my house. Who said we can't travel between worlds, right? One moment it's deep into the night and I'm watching Gurney's red barn burn down as he wonders which of his investigations would cause an arsonist to lose sleep over his inquiries, and the next I'm reaching over in bed to turn on my iPhone only to realize it's friggin' 2;30AM! Crap. That happens a lot with Verdon. You just can't put the damned story down. In Verdon's words; 'Detective stories are essentially moral in their orientation — not just because the good guy wins, but because the structure of the form tends to value objectivity above convenience and truth above personal gain. This isn't just a fine polished quote delivered for convenience to satiate an inquiry from the press. John Verdon is a pro at translating lessons from his own life into stories that'll cause some serious introspecting of your own. Verdon, in fact, is the master of deception. Living is about discovery; so are his thrillers. Mystery novels mirror the complexity of relationships; Dave Gurney holds complex relationships. He is a man with secrets, never completely truthful with himself and others. He is constantly conflicted by his own self deceptions even as he struggles to minimize the consequences that result in his isolation. Dave Gurney is singular. In mystery novels, the mystery comes in the form of deception, just as our personal lives harbor deception: we tell ourselves little lies, little rationalizations so that we can feel better and sometimes we come to believe the lies as truth. Villains experience the same, they come to believe their deceptions as the truth and then act on that truth. Gurney destroys deceptions, is after truth...and he does not leave himself exempt from this process. As Verndon says: "I lie to have more, and end up being less." What makes Verdon different in this genre is his grasp of characterization, of motivation, and of the nature of the relationship between foreground and background.. In the foreground we have our mystery, the crime, and the consequences of that on the architecture and inhabitants of the hidden city, the agenda and the detective pursuing that agenda. In the background we have the life of Gurney: his son, his enigmatic wife Madeleine, his parental responsibility, his guilt, his isolation driven by truth (in spite of being married), his eternal struggle between empathy and objectivity. I know of no other author who has such a grasp of the complexity of the mind. Both cerebral and inordinantly violent, the Gurney series stand out well above most other authors. I read the damned book until it was done and accepted the consequences of it the next day. If you've read this review of the Dave Gurney series, than you've read 'em all.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Think Of A Number introduces John Gurney, a recently retired NY homicide detective with a talent for hunting down serial killers. The book opens with our hero in upstate New York, residing in a picturesque house, planted in a picturesque setting. Dave's found himself a new time consuming and rather bizarre artistic hobby, which is a good thing, because his marriage is one spousal argument away from flat-lining. Out of the blue Dave is contacted by a college buddy, who is now a life coach/spiritu Think Of A Number introduces John Gurney, a recently retired NY homicide detective with a talent for hunting down serial killers. The book opens with our hero in upstate New York, residing in a picturesque house, planted in a picturesque setting. Dave's found himself a new time consuming and rather bizarre artistic hobby, which is a good thing, because his marriage is one spousal argument away from flat-lining. Out of the blue Dave is contacted by a college buddy, who is now a life coach/spiritual guru, and who has a perplexing and potentially dangerous problem. So predictably even though he is "out of the game", hasn't heard from his "buddy" in years and much to the consternation of Mrs. Gurney, Dave begins investigating. This set-up taking approximately 100 pages to unfold, when 20 pages or less would have sufficed - this bloat in the narrative a problem throughout the book. The case/puzzle Dave is tasked to solve is fairly ingenious. (So as not to spoil the reading, the mystery involves both a trick with numbers and omniscient anonymous letters/ poems sent to the victims.) And since Gurney is a serial killer hunter extraordinaire - murders soon become regular events. Our hero teams up with a politically/publicity driven DA, a grizzled, jaded, profane - and at times very funny - homicide cop he's worked with before, and an empty suit of a lieutenant - all character "types" we've met before - but still engaging enough. (There's also a young Bronx cop, a highly intelligent researcher, and a forensic psychologist, "specializing" in serial killers - the author covering all bases here.) The good news is that when Dave is on the job, and the hunt, the pages almost turn themselves. Unfortunately when the story-line wanders or "explains" itself - and it does often - the narrative comes to a screeching halt. For instance Dave spends a lot of time inside his head, becoming preoccupied and thus “distant" - which the reader is "told" repeatedly. Dave is also "logical" - so much so that he's been told he could have been a professor of logic. The reader doesn't glean this character trait from his actions but is also "told" this - ironically just several paragraphs after Dave labels the above mentioned police lieutenant as "officious". The most baffling sub-plot is the Gurney marriage. The fascinating aspect is that the author captures the tension and passive aggressiveness between Mr. and Mrs. Gurney fairly well - starting with the dread Dave feels each time he opens his own front door, anticipating another marital jiu-jitsu session. Unfortunately this soap opera is out of place, or at the very least monopolizes much too much time and space in this book. (A troubled domestic front is one thing, but expecting - even hoping for - Dr. Phil to appear and save the day is another.) This book is labeled as a thriller and/or novel of suspense - it's not nor do I think it was intended to be. Think Of A Number is a police procedural with an intriguing mystery and is a decent debut - just much too long. I will pick up the next Dave Gurney adventure, i.e. my interest has been piqued, with the hope that the second installment will be more "focused".

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I’ve been successfully cured of my addiction to mysteries and thrillers year ago, but when Audible dangled this lovely carrot right in front of my nose in the form of their Audible daily deal, I simply couldn’t resist. John Verdon has been receiving a lot of praise from those far more familiar with the genre so of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Think of a Number starts off very strongly, with a seemingly unsolvable puzzle in front of our retired detective. Dave Gurney has bee I’ve been successfully cured of my addiction to mysteries and thrillers year ago, but when Audible dangled this lovely carrot right in front of my nose in the form of their Audible daily deal, I simply couldn’t resist. John Verdon has been receiving a lot of praise from those far more familiar with the genre so of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Think of a Number starts off very strongly, with a seemingly unsolvable puzzle in front of our retired detective. Dave Gurney has been retired not too long ago, but he’s having a hard time adjusting to his new country life, feeling disconnected from his day to day obligations and his lovely, brilliant wife. Dave and Madeleine don’t have an easy marriage and we can’t help feeling that it’s entirely his fault. He is a puzzle solver, a famous detective whose job defines him, but in his personal life he is prone to hiding from his problems and not facing things that are painful for him to deal with. Dave feels responsible for the loss of their 4-year-old son 15 years ago, and as hard as Madeleine tries, she can’t force him to deal with his pain and say goodbye. The mystery is very well thought through, especially in the first half. The tiny inexplicable details make us doubt even the possibility of solving it. But as the story progresses and things start coming to light, Gurney is sometimes painfully slow on the uptake, which is a big source of frustration for the reader. George Newbern is a fantastic narrator, his voice well suited for the calm and collected detective. His voice characterization is excellent and his sense of pacing practically flawless. I’m sorry to say that he doesn’t narrate other books in this series, which stopped me from buying Shut Your Eyes Tight in audio format. Overall, though, this is a series worth continuing, despite the risk of falling back into my mystery addiction. The quiet emotionality of it, the complex and flawed characters and very impressive murder cases are all too alluring to pass up.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Stiles

    This book took me longer to read than most books. The reason? I kept trying to figure out the clues. I am obviously not very good at that. Dave Gurney is a retired detectivce. He has retired and is now spending time with his wife. Unfortunately after suggesting he take an art class with her, his wife is not happy with the path that class has taken. First of all her husband is creating art out of the mug shots of serial killers he put away. Second of all she can tell that the instructor has the h This book took me longer to read than most books. The reason? I kept trying to figure out the clues. I am obviously not very good at that. Dave Gurney is a retired detectivce. He has retired and is now spending time with his wife. Unfortunately after suggesting he take an art class with her, his wife is not happy with the path that class has taken. First of all her husband is creating art out of the mug shots of serial killers he put away. Second of all she can tell that the instructor has the hots for her husband. There is obvious problems and tension over unresolved issues in their marriage. Enter old college classmate turned spiritual guru, Mellery. He has been receiving a series of letters written in poetic form. They asked him to pick a number and then without knowing who the person was or anything else the writer of the letter picked the number. Each letter alludes to Mellery's past and something he should remember connected to the date. But how does the letter writer do this. Meller calls on Gurney to help him figure this out. He refuses to take Gurney's advice to contact the police and ends of dead. When all else fails, Gurney is called upon to assist in the case, putting himself and his wife in danger. This was everything I could want in a thriller. This one kept throwing clues at me but there were enough twists and turns in it that I had not figured it out until very near the end. Awesome read and one I will definitely recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gloria ~ mzglorybe

    All I can say is WOW! Hard to believe this is a debut novel. How did he ever dream this up? I was drawn in at the get-go and found it hard to put down. The writing is so "experienced" and professional, the prose nuanced to perfection, and the puzzle such a challenge. The setting on the east coast was vividly outlined, the plot unique and captivating. In my humble opinion it deserves the highest rating. I don't think I've ever given a first-novel a 5-star rating, but here you go, John Verdon. I'm All I can say is WOW! Hard to believe this is a debut novel. How did he ever dream this up? I was drawn in at the get-go and found it hard to put down. The writing is so "experienced" and professional, the prose nuanced to perfection, and the puzzle such a challenge. The setting on the east coast was vividly outlined, the plot unique and captivating. In my humble opinion it deserves the highest rating. I don't think I've ever given a first-novel a 5-star rating, but here you go, John Verdon. I'm looking forward to (and excited to know) that there are more novels featuring former Detective Dave Gurney. I'm hoping to get to know more about his personal relationships, which were introduced here, but not fully developed. I won't go into the description of the novel, others have done so here quite fluently. If you are intrigued by puzzles and drawn to damaged but believable characters, with twists and turns you may not have anticipated, AND an original story line, then this is for you. Just read it! You may have to check thesaurus a couple of times for meanings to a word, but that didn't bother me. Just enriches my knowledge of the written word. What a perfect title for this novel, Verdon was advised well, as he mentions in acknowledgments. Fans of psychological-thrillers, this is a must-read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tim Warner

    Having just finished this book, I might rate it far too highly. But it is an incredible read on many levels. I kept thinking that if John Updike wrote a thriller, well, this would be it. It isn't imitative of Updike, but it carries the weight or maybe better said, the angst of developed characters dealing with interior landscapes rarely explored in this genre. The book is not what I would call a page turner, until towards the end. In fact, there is a plodding sense to the pacing of the story whic Having just finished this book, I might rate it far too highly. But it is an incredible read on many levels. I kept thinking that if John Updike wrote a thriller, well, this would be it. It isn't imitative of Updike, but it carries the weight or maybe better said, the angst of developed characters dealing with interior landscapes rarely explored in this genre. The book is not what I would call a page turner, until towards the end. In fact, there is a plodding sense to the pacing of the story which works, obviously, as almost before we know it, we are unexpectedly hurled into the climax. I won't say anything about the plot. I will say that what is revealed in the climactic tension-filled resolution is almost unbearably intense as we enter deeply into the psycho-pathology of the antagonist/perpetrator. The writing is better than most of the thrillers we are deluged with these days, and the quality of John Verdon emerges in full force at the climax. For a cerebral read within the genre of thriller, this is one of the better.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lorin

    I hate to say a book was bad, but this book was bad. The characters were almost interesting, if they hadn't been so archetypal. The plot started off interesting (though it got less so as it moved toward the climax of the story line). The writing - bad. I felt like the author had a list of nonverbal descriptions, analogies, and big words that he was trying to find a place for and would therefore shove them into the thoughts or dialogue of characters that would not have used those words. The descr I hate to say a book was bad, but this book was bad. The characters were almost interesting, if they hadn't been so archetypal. The plot started off interesting (though it got less so as it moved toward the climax of the story line). The writing - bad. I felt like the author had a list of nonverbal descriptions, analogies, and big words that he was trying to find a place for and would therefore shove them into the thoughts or dialogue of characters that would not have used those words. The descriptions of character nonverbals were extremely noticeable - enough to be distracting. As I said in a mid-point review, the writing was almost over the top enough to be a Lemony Snicket book, except that this time it wasn't intentional. My advice - don't read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    Un-fucking-believable but a great story with adrenaline and thought provocation too. This is the first book in what is, at this time, a four book series about the retired star police homicide detective Dave Gurney who still wants to keep his thumb in the pudding. He has moved from NYC to rural upstate NY, has a perceptive wife and the hint of some life trauma, an “accident” that was the death of their four year old son. This author was suggested to me by a new GR friend so is a trial run for me. Un-fucking-believable but a great story with adrenaline and thought provocation too. This is the first book in what is, at this time, a four book series about the retired star police homicide detective Dave Gurney who still wants to keep his thumb in the pudding. He has moved from NYC to rural upstate NY, has a perceptive wife and the hint of some life trauma, an “accident” that was the death of their four year old son. This author was suggested to me by a new GR friend so is a trial run for me. I have been theoretically looking for feminist protagonists so this male is a bit off the mark but his reputation as smart catches my interest. Another GR reviewer says, “Both cerebral and inordinately violent, the Gurney series stand out well above most other authors.” Right now I am on page 125, the end of the first part of the book. The murder has just taken place after some fascinating setting of the scene of our hero’s connection to his struggling marriage as well as to the murder victim. Good start. Ultimately I can agree with and applaud the “cerebral” and dispute the “inordinately violent.” Some blood, sure. It's a murder mystery. Think of a Number does seem somewhat enamored of its own complexity to the point of trumpeting it repeatedly. “Carefully composed letters, number mysteries, directions to send a check to the wrong address, a series of increasingly threatening poems, hidden messages to the police that could only be discovered through latent-prints chemistry, surgically clean cigarette butts, a concealed gunshot wound, an impossible trail of footprints, and a fucking lawn chair for Chrissake! That’s a hell of a dragged-out bang.” The need to combine complexity with an overblown connecting of the dots is a disconcerting habit of the author. He seems to want us to understand how clever he is being, denigrating our own potential sleuthing skills. So, while I found the book entertaining enough as a novice mystery aficionado, I think a more skilled reader might feel some condescension and over-writing through the beginning stages of the book. ”What the hell is all that supposed to mean?” blustered Hardwick, his tone belied by an uneasy look in his eyes. “It means either that a very smart, very careful prep went to great lengths to do something senseless or that our reconstruction of what happened here is wrong.” Blatt, who’d been following the conversation as if it were a tennis game, stared at Hardwick. The tension between our hero and the police could not be ratcheted up higher. It almost seems to be a duel. And not, I thought, a very skillful one. More of a big BLAM! Forgot the nuances yet? Let’s cover them one more time. …he forced himself to review for the twentieth time what he actually knew about the events of the night murder. The killer had entered the property on foot from the public road? That he was carrying a .38 Police Special, a broken Four Roses bottle, a lawn chair, an extra pair of boots, and a mini tape player with the animal screeches that got Mellery out of bed? That he was wearing Tyvek coveralls, gloves and a thick goose-down jacket he could use to muffle the gunshot? That he sat behind the barn smoking cigarettes? That he got Mellery to come out onto to patio, shot him dead, then stabbed the body at least fourteen times? That he then walked calmly across the open lawn and half a mile into the woods, hung an extra pair of boots from a tree branch, and disappeared without a trace? The question marks do not allow you to forget that this is a mystery! And several pages later we are reminded that we are focused on minutia and that any evidence might be exactly the bit we are looking for. It was the definition of a long shot – more far-fetched than many a tenuous lead that he’s wasted his time chasing down in his years at the NYPD. But it was a constitutional impossibility for Dave Gurney to ignore a possibility, however flimsy it might be. We are into serious no-stone-unturned territory as we move into Part Three of the book, “Back to the Beginning.” I find myself unexpectedly and suddenly enthralled as the details of the mystery are revealed at a meeting of the investigators and our hero throws himself into the conclusive fray. Page turner heaven was lurking for me in the final third of the book. I find myself ratcheted up from a good three stars to very nearly five stars as the facts are spun out and the intensity builds. And after the climax, some thoughtful contemplation. Sometimes when I am reading a mystery I have to remind myself that it is a fictional story being read for entertainment and that believability is not necessarily taking the highest road. I may have to suspend disbelief at least somewhat to maximize enjoyment. Entertainment, I have to remember. Give our actors a break as they deliver their lines! Could a 400+ page book end up being about one sentence: “The purpose of life is to get as close as we can to other people.” Well, maybe. Is this really just a morality tale mixed into a vivid, intense mystery? That is what probably made it, in the end, a five star book for me. Gurney gazed out at the barely visible outline of the hills, knowing there was a second story to consider, a story he needed to understand better – the story of his own life, the father who’d ignored him, the grown son he in turn had ignored, the obsessive career that had brought him so much praise and so little peace, the little boy who’d died when he wasn’t looking, and Madeleine who seemed to understand it all. Madeleine, the light he’d almost lost. The light he’d endangered.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ολυμπιάδα

    We should not treat a crime book as a regular literature book. Since the author does not emphasize on the writing (it has to be kept simple so it won't make the reader get tired) but on the characters and plot. But .. This was bad. I could not understand at which part the author was counting on in order to feel that this was a good crime book. Since there's no room for improvement concerning the writing style the author should try and make the characters interesting. At least the main character We should not treat a crime book as a regular literature book. Since the author does not emphasize on the writing (it has to be kept simple so it won't make the reader get tired) but on the characters and plot. But .. This was bad. I could not understand at which part the author was counting on in order to feel that this was a good crime book. Since there's no room for improvement concerning the writing style the author should try and make the characters interesting. At least the main character. And I am not talking about development and fancy thoughts and quotes by him. The least a book needs is an interesting main character, this book failed to do that as well. I did not understand how the plot was extraordinary or how it was supposed to make me grip the edge of my seat. Truthfully at some point I stopped reading the text that was next to the quotation marks (okay I read some parts in order to understand the context), because I do not care about the way the redhead with the unisex shirt sat in her chair. I saved some time thanks to that, it's not like I've missed anything. I highly recommend this!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Loved this book!!! Very exciting!!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jaksen

    What a great book! OMG! Glad I found this author! I want him to write 100 more Dave Gurney novels! Yeah, that's my testimonial. Dave Gurney, retired homicide detective, gets asked by an old, and sort of forgettable college friend to look into a series of death threats he's been getting. The threats are odd, quirky, creepy; some are written as poems; others are delivered in a high-pitched, sort of unisex voice over the phone. This starts early in the book and adds a delicious element right on top What a great book! OMG! Glad I found this author! I want him to write 100 more Dave Gurney novels! Yeah, that's my testimonial. Dave Gurney, retired homicide detective, gets asked by an old, and sort of forgettable college friend to look into a series of death threats he's been getting. The threats are odd, quirky, creepy; some are written as poems; others are delivered in a high-pitched, sort of unisex voice over the phone. This starts early in the book and adds a delicious element right on top of an already tasty-setup. (Dave lives in the Catskills - gorgeous country! He's got an intelligent, sensitive, but low-key wife - I love that! He's got a little bit of tragedy in his background - who doesn't? He's also at heart a loner and a thinker, yet he's got an artistic side in that he develops photographs of serial killers into a sort of weird art form. So hey, he's got it all, what I like about an MC. He's realistic and down-to-Earth, yet unique enough to make following him interesting.) Also, and an important element here, Dave has a background history of having caught several of the most notorious serial killers in the New York City area, and beyond. This gives him notoriety, but also a public persona he wishes would fade away. He wants to be just Dave, working on his art, hanging with his lovely wife, living the good life in the countryside of rural New York state. But uh-huh, life and its seamy side has to come along and intrude... Also, the narration is well done; dialogue genuine; characters true-to-life. Settings and sense of locale composed in a few, wonderfully-constructed lines. The pacing, story line, sense of foreboding, littering of clues here and there - most of which I missed - were worthy of the best mystery writers. Glad I found Mr. Verdon; five stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    This is hard to believe that this is a debut author. Mr. Verdon with all the twists and turns he takes the reader on, will keep you on the edge of your seat. To tackle the age old premise of a serial killer, who thinks he's smarter than the local police sounds all too familiar. But, this one is an inventive take on how our bad guy thinks his puzzles will not be solved. Our hero Dave Gurney, you can not help but like. It's like he was put on this earth to solve these type of puzzles. And, the exc This is hard to believe that this is a debut author. Mr. Verdon with all the twists and turns he takes the reader on, will keep you on the edge of your seat. To tackle the age old premise of a serial killer, who thinks he's smarter than the local police sounds all too familiar. But, this one is an inventive take on how our bad guy thinks his puzzles will not be solved. Our hero Dave Gurney, you can not help but like. It's like he was put on this earth to solve these type of puzzles. And, the exchanges between Gurney and his wife Madeleine, is so well written, so real, they were meant for each other. As much as Gurney is meant to track down serial killers.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Note: SPOILERS!! Don't read if you want to be surprised by who the killer is!! I borrowed Think of a Number from my grandmother to read and I finished it fairly quickly. I'm not usually a big fan of mystery novels but this one drew me in with the interesting number trick. The whole time I was reading the book, I just wanted to know how the killer had done it! How could he predict what number out of a thousand a person would think of?? It drove me nuts enough to keep reading until I found out. By Note: SPOILERS!! Don't read if you want to be surprised by who the killer is!! I borrowed Think of a Number from my grandmother to read and I finished it fairly quickly. I'm not usually a big fan of mystery novels but this one drew me in with the interesting number trick. The whole time I was reading the book, I just wanted to know how the killer had done it! How could he predict what number out of a thousand a person would think of?? It drove me nuts enough to keep reading until I found out. By the time you actually DO find out, maybe a little more than 3/4 of the way through the book, you're actually hooked by the story and are interested to see how it ends. I really enjoyed the amount of detail the author placed in the novel. I also liked how everything was resolved by the end of the story. All the little mysteries strewn throughout the book were solved and none of the details from the crime scenes, etc. were arbitrary or irrelevant. The main character was an interesting guy. He was, of course, intelligent and an all-around good guy, but he had some uncommon character flaws that rounded out his personality and made him very real. I also really liked his wife's character; however, she isn't in the story as much as I would have liked her to have been. Some things about the story I wasn't really pleased with...I know I said I enjoyed the detail, but I mean the details about the crime scenes and the characters and their interpersonal relationships and the like. The excessive amount of detailed thinking the main character does...well, I could have done without a good part of that. It's just as many other reviews have said: the main character is extremely introspective. It didn't really take away from the story for me, it just got a little boring at times and I found myself skimming through some paragraphs looking for dialog or excitement. Also, although the first number trick is clever and really had me thinking hard to figure it out, the second number trick was beyond easy to figure out. I mean, I got it right away. Now this wouldn't have been bad at all, except that the "brilliant" detective doesn't figure it out for like half the book! Come on. He figured out much harder tricks in minutes, but the easiest one of all takes him days. One more thing I didn't really like about the book- the killer was so predictable. Let's see, so the victim's were made to send checks to Gregory Dermott's post office box. He sends them back saying they have the wrong address. But! Somehow, the killer has access to this mailbox, is opening the checks sent by his victims in order to know their addresses, resealing the envelopes, and placing them back into the mailbox for Gregory Dermott to find. How could the killer be getting into this mailbox?? Why did he chose Gregory Dermott?? Hmm. Let's see, uh, maybe because Gregory Dermott is the killer??? And this guy is never even a suspect!! Not very realistic. You know that in real life this guy would be suspect number one. But he sent the checks back saying they were sent to the wrong address! Yeah, well, it's called lying, something many serial killers do. Overall, don't get me wrong, the book was pretty good. I was surprised to learn that this was Verdon's first novel! I'm almost tempted to give it an extra star just because of that fact. It was extremely good for a first novel. But I will keep my rating at three stars. I would recommend this book to people who like mysteries, crime novels, or who just want something to read in their free time!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    You have the keys to the Ferrari in your hand. As you step in and shut the door behind you your eyes sweep over the gauges. You place the key in the ignition. Wait for it, wait for it. You turn the ignition to the on position. The engine starts up with a throaty growl. You feather the gas. VROOM! VROOM! With sweaty palms and trembling hands you grab the shift knob and start working through the gears. Your eyes glance at the speedometer as the world starts to spin past your windshield. 60. 90. 12 You have the keys to the Ferrari in your hand. As you step in and shut the door behind you your eyes sweep over the gauges. You place the key in the ignition. Wait for it, wait for it. You turn the ignition to the on position. The engine starts up with a throaty growl. You feather the gas. VROOM! VROOM! With sweaty palms and trembling hands you grab the shift knob and start working through the gears. Your eyes glance at the speedometer as the world starts to spin past your windshield. 60. 90. 125. 140. 160. Your hand tightens on the gearshift as you see the curve in the road unwind in front of you. 180. The steering wheel starts to shake in your hand as you feel the the rear wheels begin to break loose. 195. You see the tree screaming at you like some evil demon come to rip your soul out. Suddenly your world erupts in a shattering cacophony that threatens to deafen. All is silent. You untangle yourself and step away. Staring at what remains of the once powerful Italian supercar and the three foot diameter tree that has been sheared from its moorings you shake your head and mutter, "How the hell did I survive that?" Welcome to Think of a Number. Welcome to John Verdon. I smell fear. Fear from all top crime fiction writers. Fear that if Verdon continues to write like this that there is a possibility that their books could be moved to the $5 bargain bin at your local Barnes and Noble. I recommend this book, very strongly, to anyone that likes crime fiction. As a matter of fact I recommend that anyone that likes to read should read this one. Hey I also start off the new year with a five star book from a new author. Bonus! Happy new year to all!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    Think Of A Number Author John Verdon Think of any number and I promise you that I will know which one you picked. Sounds like a parlor trick or a card trick. No so! This is more serious. Imagine receiving a note and several unsigned poems from an unknown source telling you that you will pay for what you have done, for your past and for your sins. What if you guessed a number in your head and opened an envelope sent with this poem that told you the number you picked. How would you react? You open th Think Of A Number Author John Verdon Think of any number and I promise you that I will know which one you picked. Sounds like a parlor trick or a card trick. No so! This is more serious. Imagine receiving a note and several unsigned poems from an unknown source telling you that you will pay for what you have done, for your past and for your sins. What if you guessed a number in your head and opened an envelope sent with this poem that told you the number you picked. How would you react? You open the mail and a letter that would forever change your life has been sent. “See how well I know your secrets-just think of a number,” states the sender. The recipient of this letter is Mark Mellery. Contacting retired NYPD top homicide investigator Dave Gurney is his first step in finding out who sent this mysterious letter and much more. Living in Upstate New York, Gurney and his wife Madeline are drawn into this web of deceit by Mellery. The letters are written in some type of poetry fashion and quickly spark a massive serial murder investigation. Gurney’s investigative techniques outshine the local police. Each breakthrough he makes moves his opponent closer to destroying not only Mellery but him too. Invading his past and haunting him his marriage, which is running on, thin ice and is about to crack. This person is a remarkable adversary and seems unstoppable. There is much more. Gurney retired and is trying to start a life with his wife Madeline only to be drawn into this investigation. Encouraged by his art teacher Sonia, he begins taking photos of serial killers and using a photo program to enhance the faces of these killers. This art teacher hangs these photos in her gallery. How haunting and sick is that? Madeline is the one who invites him to attend this art class and he becomes taken with the instructor and his new hobby could prove more than dangerous. Drawn into this case he reads the letters Mellery receives, the poems and the definite threats he instructs him on how to proceed in solving this case on their own without the help of the police. But, can they and will they succeed? As Dave gets deeper into the investigation another letter is sent and another number is added to the 658. The caller asks Mark to think of another number that just happens to be on the paper in his mailbox. Add 19 to the 658 and he is supposed to know who this person is. As a psychiatrist working with mentally ill patients, he comes in contact with people that are quite capable of creating such events. Dave’s past comes into play as he remembers the event that caused Madeline and himself such pain his feelings towards his son Kyle, whom he resents and feels an intrusion in his life after divorcing his mother. Added to this Dave’s intuition tells him that Mark is keeping something from him besides being married. There is much more to his past and this plot that the reader will soon learn. As Dave visits the Mellery Institute for Spiritual Revival and observes Mark when lecturing he learns a lot about his program, philosophy and himself too. Imagine having two different personalities within one body. Imagine having one person that views things one-way and the other half of you another. One that blames himself for his wrong doings and the other that feels it is someone else’s fault. Mark Mellery was very complicated and the people he was trying to help had many different problems. Instructing them to write down, as Dave had done, everyone that they were angry with and that had gotten them in trouble in some way. Writing down the list but not blaming anyone for the end result. How did they Open The Door To The Actions that Occurred? Interesting. Unfortunately, Mark would not go to the police to get the help he needed in his case and the end result proves fatal for him thus bringing Dave deeper into the investigation. But, who would kill Mark and why is still uncertain? Why won’t Dave face the death of his four- year old son Danny and why is his marriage to Madeline so strained? Why go to these art lectures with Sonya if Madeline feels uneasy about them? There are still many questions that are unanswered. What about those numbers that the caller knew beforehand? Is Mark the only one who he is going to target or does Dave has something to do with this too? Jack Hardwick is the senior detective in charge of the investigation and he wants Gurney’s help to solve Mark’s murder. After showing him the crime scene and other pieces of evidence it is apparent that the killer left many clues and or maybe none behind. As they go deeper into the woods and see the snow prints they think the killer left and other pieces of evidence too, Dave is asked to prepare not only a statement of his involvement with Mark but to assist during the preliminary meeting bringing everyone involved in the investigation up to speed. But, Dave feels that they are asking all of the wrong questions and looking at things but not seeing them in the right light. Who the killer is still remains unknown to these great minds? When the ME states the cause of death the detectives along with the DA are surprised and the investigation takes a new direction. Just who is behind this is still unknown. What do the original numbers have to do with this case still has not been solved? Dave becomes more involved, his analytical mind and critical thinking skills so over and above the rest he becomes too embroiled in the case and the killer just might have another target? According to Gurney and the poem found at the murder scene, he hates cops and Hardwick could be next? The plot thickens. With the precision of my favorite detective Poirot and the deductive reasoning of Perry Mason without Della Street author John Verdon leads the reader inside the mind of a bright and methodical retired police detective who is relentless and will stop at nothing to solve this murder and those that follow. Think about walking in the woods and following footprints in the snow. As you continue you to follow these prints they come to a halting end leading away from the victim. The killer eludes the police and the footprints do not lead in any direction. But, there is much more. As the DA enlists Gurney as an adjunct investigator and turns it over to him, things begin to heat up not just for the investigation but for him too. This is a thriller that will keep you edge from beginning to end. As Madeline is drawn into the investigation and they being to reconstruct the crime and the evidence, she alerts him to the fact what you see is not what really is there. The footprints, the gun, the whiskey bottle and the boots are really placed in strategic positions and in a different order than the police and Dave realize. Clarifying many of the unanswered questions he realizes that this killer not only played a game with Mark but him as well. The letters, poems and puzzles are just simple games to taunt Dave who loves solving puzzles. The odd things that happen will intrigue the reader and this killer’s knack for playing now you see me or now you don’t keep not only the reader on edge and involved in this investigation but Dave too. More murders turn up and one that leads to my stomping ground the Bronx, where Gurney meets with a Detective Clamm who is investigating a murder similar to that of Mellery. Leaving a flower, a peony at the crime scene the two murders take on a familiar flavor. Madeline appears to have the only clear head in this investigation and appears to make sense out of what he and the police cannot decipher or unravel: The truth behind each piece of evidence, how he comes into play in all of this and why his past will come crashing down on him. Agatha Christie could not have had a better sleuth than Madeline. With keen insight and her intuitiveness Daves solve this and many other murders that appear to be connected in some way. As each murder comes to light one suspect fits the bill. Methodical, diabolical and one step ahead of the police, or was he. You won’t believe who committed these crimes, why or how the person justified committing them. One brilliant retired police officer, several police forces and one smart woman who shows him that what was really there was not and looking at things in a different light or direction might solve the murders. Just how did the killer come to know that each victim would pick the number 658 that you will have to read for yourself? How does someone guess a number? What means would you use to lure many people into your web using just one number? Think of a number- any number and I will tell you what it is. Maybe you shouldn’t, because you could be next. My favorite number is…….. Don’t want to be next. This is great thriller filled with so many twists, turns, flashbacks and surprises that you will not find out the outcome until you turn the last page and read the last word. Fran Lewis: Reviewer

  29. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Oxier

    The blurb pretty much says it all so I won't go into a lot of detail. I'll just say this is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. It was fast paced and kept me turning the pages. An unusual premise, think of a Number and I know all your secrets. It's obvious from the bodies piling up that police have a serial on their hands. The killer's creepy poems and clues he leaves at each crime scene had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck a few times. Dave Gurney, a former detective now r The blurb pretty much says it all so I won't go into a lot of detail. I'll just say this is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. It was fast paced and kept me turning the pages. An unusual premise, think of a Number and I know all your secrets. It's obvious from the bodies piling up that police have a serial on their hands. The killer's creepy poems and clues he leaves at each crime scene had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck a few times. Dave Gurney, a former detective now retired, is brought in to consult with local law enforcement. His investigative skills have earned the praise of his peers. His ability to reason things out and reach a logical conclusion aiding in the capture of some really devious criminals second to none. It doesn't take much to draw him back into the thick of things much to his wife's chagrin. Her husband has finally retired and she's looking forward to spending time with him, the two of them building a life together outside of police work. Madeleine is sure Dave's eagerness to once again be involved stems from what happened years ago when they'd lost their four year old son in a tragic accident. In order to cope with the pain, Dave threw himself into his work with a vengeance. It helped him avoid dealing with his grief. Now, being retired, he had too much time to think. When Madeleine pulls out a box of their son's drawings and memorabilia, Dave panics and once again becomes embroiled in something that gives him a reason to ignore Madelaine's intentions when it came to his boy. I really liked the character. Dave was very self motivated, highly dedicated to the job, with his deductive reasoning skills beyond the norm. He loved his wife dearly but just couldn't let go of this latest case in order to appease her. It's while working the clues he comes to realize some things about himself that in the end has him making up to Madelaine and reconnecting with his older son from his first marriage. If you like good edge-of-your-seat thrillers with unusual twists and turns then you don't want to miss this one. I'm sure, at some point, I'll go back and read it again just to make sure I didn't miss anything.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Another 24 hour book - it is a must read for someone who is just dying for a good curl up by the fire and enjoy the snow or cold weather with a book. I'm cheating a bit here because I know three things about this book that make me confident that it is that good. First it has been nominated for both the Edgar first novel and Edgar best mystery of the year. Second, it came personally recommended by Harlan Coben (2 degrees of separation), who said this is the new up and coming author. Lastly, I rea Another 24 hour book - it is a must read for someone who is just dying for a good curl up by the fire and enjoy the snow or cold weather with a book. I'm cheating a bit here because I know three things about this book that make me confident that it is that good. First it has been nominated for both the Edgar first novel and Edgar best mystery of the year. Second, it came personally recommended by Harlan Coben (2 degrees of separation), who said this is the new up and coming author. Lastly, I read it and was surprised by the twist. I HAD NO IDEA. Usually I figure these mysteries out pretty early on in the story. Verdon caught me off guard - it was great! Even the angst ridden aspects of his retired detective tied into the story so well that I wasn't rolling my eyes or trying to get back to the mystery. So here is the scoop - Dave Gurney is the famous and decorated NYPD detective who has retired with his wife to upstate NY (I covet his farmhouse, lifestyle, and retirement by the way). He becomes enmeshed in what appears to be a blackmailing attempt of a college buddy turned spiritual guru that he hasn't seen in 20 years. As things start to spiral Dave's skills in unmasking criminals and piecing together evidence, as well as his need to solve crimes brings him back into police work. This novel is a fantastic locked-room mystery, as well as brings some innovative and terrific twists to the typical police procedural. Take a look at the authors who reviewed this book and then remember that Harlan Coben also recommended it; you will want to read it.

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