Think of a Number Dave Gurney Book 1
Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Written by: John Verdon
Narrated by: George Newbern
Length: 13 hrs and 30 mins
Series: Dave Gurney, Book 1
Publisher: Random House Audio
Available from Audible2 STAR REVIEWPublishers Summary
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.
©2005 John Verdon (P)2010 Random House
Like many Audible members with just one credit per month to spend, I choose my books carefully. This book not only has a plethora of 5 star reader reviews but has also received fulsome praise from some big name authors, here are some excerpts:
"Rarely have I read a debut novel that has gripped me as this one has from the first page to the last" .... Nelson De Mille
"John Verdon's Think of a Number is simply one of the best thrillers I've read in a lifetime of thriller reading ... eloquent, heart- rending, deeply suspenseful on many levels, and relentlessly intelligent" .... John Lescroart.
"Verdon's protagonist Dave Gurney is one for the ages, and readers everywhere will surely clamour to see this man again" .... David Baldacci.
(See full comments on the Audible page)
Yet another temptation to choose this book was the fact that it is the first in a series, and I'm always on the lookout for a good mystery series. For all that, it soon became clear that this book was not meant for me, I didn't much care for the story. It started off well enough and I was certainly grabbed by the "think of a number" conundrum, but as I listened my interest waned, and here's why: The characters, none of them seemed to be fully developed, I neither got to know or found a connection with anyone sufficient enough to either like or dislike them. Madeleine, Dave Gurneys' wife for example, who was to contribute much to the solving of the case, remained in the shadowy background having just a few sentences here and there. We were given hints of her story but I would have liked to have known more about her.
Dave, throughout the story is touted by his past colleagues as having been a top notch detective, a genius at his work, which is why I couldn't understand why it took him so very long to solve the mysteries, (because even I could) indeed, there was a huge clue early on, which had it not been missed, would have led straight to the perpetrator. It was from this point on that the story lost all credulity for me. In fact it was his wife who provided him with the wherewithal to solve these mysteries. Madeleine is, in my opinion the genius in that marraige. Parts of this story are greatly detailed, including as it does a complete psychological lecture and a few meetings which, as in real life, (therefore quite realistic) did drag on a bit thereby slowing the flow. I really wanted less talk and more action.This is a book with wonderful reviews and critical acclaim, and it's not easy for a reviewer to write of ones dissatisfaction with such a lauded work. Nevertheless, I do believe that this book is a good example of that which pleases many people doesn't please all.
Narrated by George Newburn who has a pleasant voice but does use a similar pitch and tone for all, this made character differentiation a little hard. I found the narration somewhat inconsistent in that for most of the time he sounded a tad disinterested, he did though, show a bit of enthusiasm at times.
This is my own copy of Think of a Number purchased from Audible US