Think Of A Number (dave Gurney, No.1): A Novel

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Think Of A Number (dave Gurney, No.1): A Novel

by John Verdon

Crown Publishing Group | June 6, 2013 | Hardcover

Think Of A Number (dave Gurney, No.1): A Novel is rated 3.4286 out of 5 by 21.
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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 432 pages, 9.36 × 6.45 × 1.35 in

Published: June 6, 2013

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307588920

ISBN - 13: 9780307588920

Found in: Mystery and Suspense

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from No need to hold your breath Think of a Number is the first (but not the last) Dave Gurney novel by Verdon. I grabbed it off the bargain table because the premise, a serial killer that seems to be able to read minds or at least knows his victims so well he can predict what they will think, sounded like a good, suspenseful read. In some ways I was wrong, but I didn't really mind. Dave Gurney was the NYPD’s top homicide investigator, at least until he retired. What we quickly learn is that Gurney is a cop, always will be. Retirement certainly won't change that fact. How could it when even bird-watching becomes an exercise in detecting? Gurney struggles to adapt to the calm, comfortable life his wife desires, living out in the country. He's trying, but his mind still yearns for another puzzle to solve, and when an old classmate contacts him about a troubling letter that arrived in his mailbox, Gurney is intrigued. He accepts the challenge, but is still convinced it’s either a prank, or that the number on the envelope holds special meaning to his friend. When his friend is found murdered, the mystery takes on a whole new level and Gurney finds himself brought on as a special consultant to the case. I never found this book particularly suspenseful and I wouldn't call it a 'thriller'. It didn't have the ususal fast pace drive to catch the killer as bodies begin to pile up that I associate with this genre. In fact, the first murder (that we know about) doesn't occur until about a third of the way into the book. Until that point, the book seems more like a character piece as we see Gurney trying to cope with retirement (and pretty much failing) and the effects it is having on his marriage. This isn't a single minded police procedural, in fact the actual police work is rather boring and is mostly a bunch of cops sitting around hashing things out while stepping on each other's ego. I never really felt we get to see why Gurney is supposedly such a great detective (I figured out the killer before he did). What the book offers instead is a very well crafted character examination.
Date published: 2014-05-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expected More Dave Gurney is a retired cop, famous for solving a few serial murder cases. After moving out of the city with his second wife, he expects to have left that life behind when he receives an email from an old college buddy Mark Mellery asking to meet. Gurney agrees to meet with him and is shown a series of letters, one where the person that writes the letter tells Mellery to guess a number between one and one thousand. Mellery guesses 658, which matches the number guessed by the letter writer and sets Mellery in to a panic. What follows is a threatening letter about non-specific items that Mellery has done in his past. Mellery wants to know who could know him so well that he could guess what number he was thinking and wants to know what this person is going to do to him. Gurney sets to find out. Gurney looking in to this matter upsets his wife, who wants him to leave his old life behind. Gurney doesn't find out much until the investigation takes a sharp turn and suddenly the police are involved. This is a debut novel for Verdon and while there are sections that were great, the story overall felt a bit muted. I think the main problem with this story is that it started in the wrong area. Gurney's investigation of the letters himself felt very slow and like he wasn't getting anywhere. The book didn't start moving until the police got involved, which is when things got interesting. Unfortunately for the book, that was about a third the way through the book and it was too late to save the entire story. In terms of characters, I liked Gurney, though I think he would have been better written as a current detective rather than a retired one. What annoyed me was his wife's reaction to everything he did, which to me felt like it was always met with hostility, annoyance, and anger. I can understand that she was upset about him getting back to his old life, but it felt like she never let that go the entire book. Overall not a bad debut novel, but I don't think I'd seek out another of Verdon's novels voluntarily.
Date published: 2012-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great first novel Can't agree more with Reginald Hill, who wrote: “Just when you think the serial killer thriller has been done to death, someone comes along and revives it! THINK OF A NUMBER is written with pace, style and intelligence. It has rounded characters, teasing puzzles, and lots of tension. The number I'm thinking of is 1!” John Verdon's debut novel had my number one too, that's for sure. The book doesn't just bring us your typical serial killer, though, it's got a special, intelligent one, who sets up elaborate crime scenes, leaves messages taunting the police and before killing his victims he scares them to death with a series of threatening poems. This is one guy who thinks he's too smart to be caught, and he almost is.
Date published: 2012-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Splendid, Cerebral Thriller! Reason for Reading: I love thrillers and this new author's book sounded very interesting. However, I never managed to get around to it and now I have the second book in the series waiting here to be read so thought I ought to get caught up with this one first. A thoroughly splendid thriller of the serial killer type. Verdon doesn't just bring us your typical serial killer, though, he's got a special, intelligent one, who sets up elaborate crime scenes, leaves messages taunting the police and before killing his victims he scares them with a series of threatening poems. This is one guy who thinks he's too smart to be caught, and he almost is. I loved the murders! They were bloody but not exactly gruesome and the case was a cerebral one also that was fun to watch unfold. I found the book quick-paced and it was a page-turner for me. I really enjoyed the main character, a fairly down-to-earth guy but devoted, perhaps obsessed with the job. He has a dark moment in his past weighing him down and his marriage. I appreciate that he isn't one of the usual former alcoholics or divorced. The fact that he is already married also means there isn't the typical partner love affair to go with either. A really good book with an intriguing main character. I'm looking forward to the next book, the next case, and how Dave and his wife work on their marriage.
Date published: 2011-08-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Bad... I think my problem was reading all the reviews before reading the book. I thought it would be the book to end all books but it did not live up to the hype. I did adore the main character and felt for him and with him. His wife was annoying and served no purpose for me. Why marry a cop to only complain about their job and seem so unloving and caring and quite passive aggressive. I found the book to be more of a behind the scenes look at the thought process of detectives than a serial killer on the loose and the terror involved with that. I would recommend it but its not the greatest book I've ever read but far from the worst.
Date published: 2011-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great debut Mystery This is a very good debut novel. There were times I simply could not put this book down, as I wanted to figure out (along with the protagonist, super detective Dave Gurney)how the serial killer was able to do the amazing and disturbing things that he did. Even the slower scenes involving police debriefings were interesting as the gathered police officials suggested possible explanations to the almost unsolvable murders. My biggest problem with this book was that I quickly figured out who the murderer was despite not knowing how he did it. It also had a slightly drawn out ending where the killer reveals himself, explains most of his plan, and is thwarted by the quick thinking Gurney. Good first effort though and I expect Verdon will only get better.
Date published: 2011-06-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A twisty "whodunit" I wouldn't say that crime/mystery are my favourite genre - but compelled by my bookclub's selection to read this one, I gave it a whirl. I enjoyed it and can definitely recommend this pick. Detective Gurney is a wonderful character with brilliant deductive skills. I feel like the author didn't fill too many details in about this Detective's history, leaving himself open for a sequel or ten. At times I felt like there were too many unnecessary characters, and the Detective's relationship with his wife was distant and uncomfortable. However, I enjoyed this quick read, its twisty plot, and really didn't figure out "whodunit" until the author was just about ready to reveal it himself. Kudos!
Date published: 2011-03-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good Count Very good first novel by Mr. Verdon. Not perfect, but it is tricky enough has a solid enough lead character to overcome any flaws. Mr. Patterson's co-authors in much of his recent dreck could learn a thing or two from the pacing and style of Mr. Verdon. Definitely will give his next book a try.
Date published: 2010-11-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great Light Read, but No Masterpiece Think of a Number is an entertaining book. Its well written, with some great twists and fleshy characters. If youre looking for a simple escapist book to whisk you away for a few hours this is a great choice. Theres no nonsense magic or unbelievable aliens-did-it type twists here. Just simple, smart writing. But while it is a good book, it does have flaws, it is a little long, and the ending a little too perfect. If youre looking for an intelectual masterpiece, this is not for you. But if you want a fun, easy book, pick this one up. (Also, I apologize for the lack of apostrophies. My keyboard is broken.)
Date published: 2010-09-26
Rated 2 out of 5 by from S'ok This book didn't really resonate with me. Its kind of a detective/thriller fiction, and while I love thriller/horror books, I'm not much into the whole detective/murder mystery thing. So while I can see the potential for this book being fantastic, it didn't really flat my boat. Its the story of a retired police detective trying to solve a "locked room" scenario mystery that just so happens to involve an associate he knew from college. Its an interesting concept of a serial killer choosing victims through a mail order scam. I liked the ending the best, mostly because I was curious as to how the author was going to tie everything together. Which he does very well by the way, and while this book will never make one of my top 10 lists, it is still a well written book with a fascinating story concept. I just wish I was into detective fiction more.
Date published: 2010-09-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fun The only reason I read mysteries or thrillers is to have the fun of guessing what's going to happen. It gives clues, and you think of a couple possibilities. Good mysteries give pieces away at a time, and that's exactly what Think of a Number did. Sure, I was able to figure everything out before the detective, but at the same time, that's the FUN of it. I personally HATE when it ends up being something ridiculous that was unpredictable. That had no clues, no bearing. There were parts you really had to think about. The characters were very real and easy to read about. There's nothing worse than hating a character.It wasn't the BEST mystery I've ever read, but it was good enough to make me plough through it in one go.
Date published: 2010-08-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A SIMPLE GAME WE ALL PLAY The title brings to mind a game everyone has played in one form or another … think of a number between 1 and 10. However, in this case the game becomes serious. If you decide to play along and if the number you think of is correct you could very well end up dead. Dave Gurney is a recently retired NYPD homicide detective who receives a telephone call from an old college acquaintance asking for help in dealing with a strange series of letters and phone calls. When his friend dies a bizarre death Gurney is drawn into the hunt for what turns out to be a very creative serial killer. This serial killer is one of the most inventive I have come across in recent “crime thrillers”. The combination of the author’s creativity and his ability to make Gurney a very human character made for a book that is very easy to get caught up in. I always say I do not have time for another “series” but I do hope there is at least one more Dave Gurney book in the offing.
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Don't know what all the hype is about. The story started out well enough but it quickly became very predictable. It was easy to guess who the killer was and I kept waiting for some big twist to throw me off the obvious suspect but none came. It was disappointing waiting for the characters to figure out what I already knew.
Date published: 2010-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best books I have ever read John Verdon is an absolute genius. I cannot believe that this is first book, it was so well-written, interesting, suspenseful, creative, and imaginative. It deserves every good review that it has been given. It kept me guessing the entire time, until the very end when the killer was revealed. The notes that the killer wrote were utterly terrifying, a kind of creepy that grows on you slowly. I love thrillers and mystery novels, and this is one of the best that I have ever read. I would definitely add it to my top 5 books. I read the entire book as quickly as I could, and I rarely even let it out of my sight ! The book was very well written because not only does it teach you a lot about the police force and crime, it also gives you a glimpse at Dave Gurney's life and what kind of person he is, and it's also suspenseful as it takes you through various crime scenes. This book is definitely worth it to buy, and you'll want to save it and reread it. Congrats to John Verdon on his amazing and well-deserved debut. My only complaint is that I wish there was a second novel !
Date published: 2010-08-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Did NOT live up to the hype... This was formulaic and every twist was easy to see coming... I guessed the killer, the reasons, everything... I do not know why it is getting good reviews... don't waste your time!
Date published: 2010-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good reading Excellent book. Please read this in the spirit in which it was written: "I went to bed with this book and am afraid I spent the whole night with Mr. Verdon." Look forward to reading new stories by this new author..
Date published: 2010-08-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not as Good as Expected While I enjoyed this thriller/ mystery, and it kept me guessing until the end, I was diappointed in the lack of character development. Dave Guerney - the main character - has a wife who seems only to serve as someone he can talk to rather than think to himself. Madeline, his wife - seems to be a vehicle in the novel who exists so that he can ponder over his thoughts with her, so that we the reader can understand what is going on in Dave Guerney's head. I was a bit disappointed.
Date published: 2010-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great book I' ve bought this book after i've read some reviews and it was great.
Date published: 2010-08-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I must be missing something There was a time when first time authors were only published in paperback and they earned the right to have a release in hardcover AFTER being on the best seller list a number of times - this seems to have changed and not for the better - Hardcovers are expensive notwithstanding discounts that are available - this should not have been published as a hardcover. I am puzzled by the reviews and the ratings of this book - The prologue just grabbed me, and I thought Oh Boy! I’m going to have a late night …I was wrong. In my opinion the book was written from a murder/mystery/thriller check list - retired cop (who may have only retired because his second wife wanted him to); unresolved issues with his second wife; unresolved issues with his oldest son, unresolved issues regarding the death of his second son; a potential “other women”; a mystery; gruesome murders; a stereo-typical small town police department with a number of small minded cops; and political figures trying to one up every one to get ahead; un-related reference to Macbeth; statements with no supporting details......I could go on. If you truly want to read this - get a copy from the library - I doubt there will be a very long wait, even if they only have one copy circulating.
Date published: 2010-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Kept me guessing 'til the end! 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!
Date published: 2010-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fantastic Thriller. A page turner. What a great summer for thrillers! Readers will find John Verdon’s Think of a Number impossible to put down. Retirement is a difficult adjustment for NYPD detective Dave Gurney. Even after moving to upstate New York with his wife Madeleine, he can’t stop thinking about his past successful cases, but one day a former acquaintance asks for help on a personal matter and Gurney is lead into a hunt for a very smart serial killer who seems to be able to read the minds of his victims and know their darkest secrets. The intricate page turning plot doesn’t let up until the very last page, and Gurney is one of the best characters to come along in a while. His obsession with his cases, his relationships with his wife, son and friends all ring true. This is a fabulous summer read from a new author who has a great future.
Date published: 2010-06-30

– More About This Product –

Think Of A Number (dave Gurney, No.1): A Novel

by John Verdon

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 432 pages, 9.36 × 6.45 × 1.35 in

Published: June 6, 2013

Publisher: Crown Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0307588920

ISBN - 13: 9780307588920

About the Book

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.

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 Cop art Jason Strunk was by all accounts an inconsequential fellow, a bland thirty-something, nearly invisible to his neighbors--and apparently inaudible as well, since none could recall a single specific thing he''d ever said. They couldn''t even be certain that he''d ever spoken. Perhaps he''d nodded, perhaps said hello, perhaps muttered a word or two. It was hard to say. All expressed a conventional initial amazement, even a temporary disbelief, at the revelation of Mr. Strunk''s obsessive devotion to killing middle-aged men with mustaches and his uniquely disturbing way of disposing of the bodies: cutting them into manageable segments, wrapping them colorfully, and mailing them to local police officers as Christmas presents. Dave Gurney gazed intently at the colorless, placid face of Jason Strunk--actually, the original Central Booking mug shot of Jason Strunk--that stared back at him from his computer screen. The mug shot had been enlarged to make the face life-size, and it was surrounded at the borders of the screen by the tool icons of a creative photo-retouching program that Gurney was just starting to get the hang of. He moved one of the brightness-control tools on the screen to the iris of Strunk''s right eye, clicked his mouse, and then examined the small highlight he''d created. Better, but still not right. The eyes were always the hardest--the eyes and the mouth--but they were the key. Sometimes he had to experiment with the position and intensity of on
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From the Publisher

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.

About the Author

JOHN VERDON has held several executive positions with Manhattan advertising firms, but like his protagonist, he recently relocated with his wife to rural upstate New York.  Think of a Number is his first novel.

Editorial Reviews

"[An] inventive and entertaining first thriller. The hard-edged characters and gritty plot recall Chandler''s "mean streets," but the ornate puzzles laid before Verdon''s detective might have challenged the "little grey cells" of Hercule Poirot."-- Washington Post "Mr. Verdon was an advertising executive who retired to upstate New York before deciding on a more artistic pursuit. And if THINK OF A NUMBER is any indication, he''ll have no trouble forgetting about that day job. The transition couldn''t be much smoother...Verdon is masterly at keeping Gurney [his protagonist] a step ahead of the reader [and] the murder itself is a pretty crafty piece of legerdemain....[The novel features] the kind of head-scratching setup that would get Sherlock Holmes off his cocaine [and] Gurney has the same precision, logic and thirst for clarity."-- New York Times "Verdon’s deftly written, erudite debut is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense." -- Portland Oregonian "Mostly what makes this work is the intricate fabric that debut novelist Verdon weaves, as complications twist into what seems to be an impossible knot."-- Chicago Sun-Times "Good writing and good storytelling often aren’t the same thing. Verdon combines them masterfully...Here’s hoping Verdon has what it takes to churn out more books like this."-- Newark Star Ledger “Verdon’s brought back crimes of impossibility, starting with the titular parlor game trifle and escalating until we''re deep into s
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