Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Think of a Numb3r - John Verdon

Well, John Verdon's debut novel had my number, that's for sure. I'm a big fan of suspense and thrillers and Think of a Numb3r had me right from the start...

Dave Gurney is a retired NYPD Homicide Investigator. He's moved to the country with his wife Madeleine to enjoy the quiet life. (Mind you, his new hobby is exhibiting serial killer photographs...) Mark Mellery, an acquaintance from college sends Gurney a somewhat desperate note asking for his 'professional' help. Mark has received a series of cryptic notes - the first asking him to pick a number between 1 and 1000. When he mentally does, he then opens a second envelope to find that exact number. How could anyone know what number he would have picked? The notes have escalated in tone and Mellery is now quite frightened. Who wouldn't be.... "What you took you will give when you get what you gave. I know what you think, when you blink, where you've been, where you'll be. You and I have a date, Mr. 658."

Against his better judgement (and that of Madeleine) he is drawn into the investigation. What an utterly imaginative and creepy crime Verdon has come up with! It begins with the notes, but the crime scenes themselves are out of the ordinary as well. I love not being able to figure out the whodunit and the howdunit. Verdon kept me enthralled from start to finish. Very, very clever!

The relationship between Dave and Madeleine is also a big part of the book. Gurney is good at the detective stuff, but is having trouble with his own relationships. I'm still making up my mind about Gurney. I think he's a work in progress. I found the enigmatic Madeleine to be fascinating and I think there are depths to plumb there.I definitely hope that this becomes a regular series as I think there is much left to explore, know and develop with Dave Gurney. Some of the supporting characters, notably the police captain and the district attorney, were a bit over the top, but provided a good foil for Gurney.

A wonderfully creepy read that will have you guessing to the end! Read an excerpt of Think of a Number.

Check out the Think of a Number game at Crown Publishing. The Youtube book trailer is pretty good too.
John is on tour this month with TLC Book Tours - here's the rest of the stops - see what everyone else is thinking! ( TLC will be running this book as their book club contest in August - 10 copies to be won!)

10 comments:

Kay said...

This is my next book to read and I'll have a tour stop next week. I think this one sounds like a real winner. Glad it worked so well for you and nice review, Luanne!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

I've been wanting to read this for some time! I was lucky enough to find it on Netgalley and will download it soon!

bermudaonion said...

I love books like this, so I'm adding it to my wish list. Great review!

LisaMM said...

Imaginative and creepy.. sounds great!! Thanks so much for being on the tour. We really appreciate it!

LisaMM said...

Imaginative and creepy.. sounds great!! Thanks so much for being on the tour!

LisaMM said...

Imaginative and creepy.. sounds great!! Thanks so much for being on the tour!

LisaMM said...

Imaginative and creepy.. sounds great!! Thanks so much for being on the tour!

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I love a creative thriller....I'm going to have to pick this one up. Soon.

Kenneth said...

I thought the book started slowly, with a lot of unnecessary background and info that didn't support the rest of the story. Then about 1/4 of the way through, there's a murder, many interesting characters are introduced, and the pace picks up. This book has gotten a lot of good buzz, largely because it presents the hero retired police detective (hrpd), and the reader, with lots of puzzles to solve. So it becomes a brain teaser cum novel. But then even one of the characters suggest the possibility that the puzzles may only be a distraction - do they really lead us to the killer? You decide for yourself, frankly I wasn't that intrigued. I think the characters are the strength of the book, but some are not done well. A police captain as well as another senior staff member seem really overdone. Meanwhile our HRPD seems to be a real babe magnet, attracting female art teachers, forensic psychologists, nurses etc. while dealing with a seemingly cold, annoying second wife.

I thought there were a number of flaws in the plot, some major, some just unreal. I wish the the climax was a bit better. The HRPD and another cop seem to trip over the perpetrator in the end, but I feel that in real life the perp would have been thoroughly investigated long before. It doesn't seem likely to me that the HRPD would be treated so cooperatively by the senior police investigator, even given their history. The HRPD seems to discover ALL the important clues, breaks in the case, e.g. where to find a stray bullet at a crime scene - missed by all the SOCO. C'mon, get real. The tension around what the perp was ultimately striving to achieve was zip, flat, nada; it just didn't add to the book even with the clugey description of the key device. The HRPD doesn't keep his boss clued in, gets mildly chewed out once, but that's it - I don't think that's consistent with that kind of individual (a DA with political ambitions).

Finally, I don't know if this will be a series. It seems to be set up to become one. Right now I would lean to not reading #2, but I could be swayed by strong reviews.

Kenneth said...

I thought the book started slowly, with a lot of unnecessary background and info that didn't support the rest of the story. Then about 1/4 of the way through, there's a murder, many interesting characters are introduced, and the pace picks up. This book has gotten a lot of good buzz, largely because it presents the hero retired police detective (hrpd), and the reader, with lots of puzzles to solve. So it becomes a brain teaser cum novel. But then even one of the characters suggest the possibility that the puzzles may only be a distraction - do they really lead us to the killer? You decide for yourself, frankly I wasn't that intrigued. I think the characters are the strength of the book, but some are not done well. A police captain as well as another senior staff member seem really overdone. Meanwhile our HRPD seems to be a real babe magnet, attracting female art teachers, forensic psychologists, nurses etc. while dealing with a seemingly cold, annoying second wife.

I thought there were a number of flaws in the plot, some major, some just unreal. I wish the the climax was a bit better. The HRPD and another cop seem to trip over the perpetrator in the end, but I feel that in real life the perp would have been thoroughly investigated long before. It doesn't seem likely to me that the HRPD would be treated so cooperatively by the senior police investigator, even given their history. The HRPD seems to discover ALL the important clues, breaks in the case, e.g. where to find a stray bullet at a crime scene - missed by all the SOCO. C'mon, get real. The tension around what the perp was ultimately striving to achieve was zip, flat, nada; it just didn't add to the book even with the clugey description of the key device. The HRPD doesn't keep his boss clued in, gets mildly chewed out once, but that's it - I don't think that's consistent with that kind of individual (a DA with political ambitions).

Finally, I don't know if this will be a series. It seems to be set up to become one. Right now I would lean to not reading #2, but I could be swayed by strong reviews.