Name & Author: Think of a Number by John Verdon
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Release Date: July 6th 2010
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
An extraordinary fiction debut, Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates, forcing its deeply troubled characters to moments of startling self-revelation.
Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration, “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.
What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air. Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.
Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.
In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.
A work that defies easy labels — at once a propulsive masterpiece of suspense and an absorbing immersion in the lives of characters so real we seem to hear their heartbeats – Think of a Number is a novel you’ll not soon forget. -Goodreads
I picked this book up at a whim at my local library not really expecting much of it. The book took me by surprise, I really liked it. This is John Verdon’s debut novel. There are two other books out in this series: Shut Your Eyes Tight and Let the Devil Sleep.
The book revolves around Dave Gurney, a retired NYPD top homicide investigator. He struggles to adapt to his new life, a calm and comfortable one.
One day an old classmate of Gurney’s, Mallery, turns to him for help. Soon Gurney is deep into an investigation that turns into a murder mystery when Mallery is murdered. More bodies turn up. All the men who have been murdered have gotten the same mysterious letters. A letter that someone knows them extraordinary well and is keeping tabs on them.
I really liked the murder mystery in the book. There are lots of details that are unsettling, especially the steps that stop in the middle of nowhere. And all the details that lead the investigators in the wrong direction.
Dave Gurney is a genius when reading a murder scene, but is rubbish at noticing that his marriage is going down the drain. His private life is a big part of the book. As the investigation moves on, he slowly takes more part in his marriage. He and his wife talk about the problems in their life, about their dead son. And in the end Gurney talks to his son, from former relationship, and connects to him, something that he has never really done before.
The book is very well written. It keeps you guessing and on your toes till the end. It’s original, not like anything else I have read before. It’s a true brain puzzle. However it is a slow read, there is a lot to take in and to not miss anything it takes a while to get through.
I read a translation and I think that some of John Verdon’s charm may have gotten lost in the process. I wish I had read it in English.