Let The Devil Sleep: A Novel

Hardcover | July 24, 2012

byJohn Verdon

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In this latest novel from bestselling author John Verdon, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney puts under the magnifying glass a notorious serial murder case – one whose motives have been enshrined as law-enforcement dogma - and discovers that everyone has it wrong.
 
The most decorated homicide detective in NYPD history, Dave Gurney is still trying to adjust to his life of quasi-retirement in upstate New York when a young woman who is producing a documentary on a notorious murder spree seeks his counsel.  Soon after, Gurney begins feeling threatened: a razor-sharp hunting arrow lands in his yard, and he narrowly escapes serious injury in a booby-trapped basement.  As things grow more bizarre, he finds himself reexamining the case of The Good Shepherd, which ten years before involved a series of roadside shootings and a rage-against-the-rich manifesto.  The killings ceased, and a cult of analysis grew up around the case with a consensus opinion that no one would dream of challenging  -- no one, that is, but Dave Gurney. 
 
Mocked even by some who’d been his supporters in previous investigations, Dave realizes that the killer is too clever to ever be found.  The only gambit that may make sense is also the most dangerous – to make himself a target and get the killer to come to him.
 
To survive, Gurney must rely on three allies: his beloved wife Madeleine, impressively intuitive and a beacon of light in the gathering darkness; his de-facto investigative “partner” Jack Hardwick, always ready to spit in authority’s face but wily when it counts; and his son Kyle, who has come back into Gurney’s life with surprising force, love and loyalty.
 
Displaying all the hallmarks for which the Dave Gurney series is lauded -- well-etched characters, deft black humor, and ingenious deduction that ends in a climactic showdown – Let the Devil Sleep is something more: a reminder of the power of self-belief in a world that contains too little of it.

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From the Publisher

In this latest novel from bestselling author John Verdon, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney puts under the magnifying glass a notorious serial murder case – one whose motives have been enshrined as law-enforcement dogma - and discovers that everyone has it wrong. The most decorated homicide detective in NYPD history, Dave Gurney is s...

JOHN VERDON is a former Manhattan advertising executive who lives with his wife in the mountains of  upstate New York.  His first two Dave Gurney novels, Think of a Number and Shut Your Eyes Tight, are both international bestsellers.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 9.5 × 6.35 × 1.57 inPublished:July 24, 2012Publisher:Crown Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307717925

ISBN - 13:9780307717924

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Let The Devil Sleep Wonderful novel! Well written, insightful, suspenseful and full of characters I cared about. Couldn't have been better.
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I very much enjoyed reading the whole Dave gurney book series. I hope he has some new novels again soon.
Date published: 2014-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another engaging story! Mr Verdon has become one of my favourite authors. From his first novel to "Let the devil sleep", detective Gurney has delivered another passionate adventure. Let the devil sleep is by far a progression in Verdon's fascinating writing style. The villain is dark and mysterious, the complexity of the crimes and the brilliant investigative process are very enjoyable. Great job tying all the knots of the story. I want more Gurney.
Date published: 2013-10-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some Good Things - Some Not As a favor to a distant friend Dave Gurney finds himself “consulting” for a young woman producing a documentary on “The Good Shepherd” serial killings. Just barely accustomed to his semi-retirement status Dave finds himself falling deeper into the cold case than he anticipated. Trying to pull back to save his sanity (and his marriage) he suddenly finds himself threatened. The Good Shepherd killer is still out there and he is teasing Gurney back into the investigation. I enjoyed this book because as part of the series the characters progressed and that’s always something I look forward to eagerly. I can only say that I hope Gurney is a little less morose in any future installments. He was just a little too introspective for me. And the character of Kim was beyond annoying … now I know that was part of her character … but even that has its limits. I got the impression that she is going to reappearing in future books, so I hope she grows up a little bit in between.
Date published: 2013-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Dave Gurney returns I was lucky enough to be an early reader (and fan) of John Verdon's debut novel - Think of a Numb3r. I love getting in on the ground floor of a new series. His second book - Shut Your Eyes Tight - was just as good and proved that Verdon wasn't a one book wonder. The latest book in his Dave Gurney series - Let the Devil Sleep - was fantastic! John Verdon just gets better and better. Retired NYPD Homicide Detective Dave Gurney has spent the last six months recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during his last attempt to bring down a serial killer. Yes, he's retired - but can't help himself - puzzles intrigue him and unsolved cases still call his name. He had the highest solve rate in the NYPD's history when he retired. But this time, he just can't seem to shake things off - he's out of sorts, short tempered with his ever patient wife Madeleine, can't stop worrying about his lingering symptoms and has no interest in doing anything. When Connie, an old journalist friend contacts him to ask a favour, he agrees out of a sense of obligation. Her daughter Kim is doing a series of interviews with families of the victims of a serial killer dubbed The Good Shepherd. Ten years ago, the killer targeted the wealthy, specifically those driving black Mercedes. The case remains unsolved and Kim would like to have him look over what she's doing with his cop's eye and give her feedback. But a lot occurs in that one day - there's more going on with Kim than she initially mentioned. And the interviews and files on The Good Shepherd pique Gurney's interest. It is Madeleine who notes that Gurney has done more in a day than he has in months - and he's not worrying about his symptoms every five minutes. Slowly, but surely, Dave is hooked again. He believes the initial investigation was flawed. In the beginning of the series, I wasn't sure what I thought about Gurney. But, as the series grows, so does Dave. This time out, we get to meet his son Kyle, with whom Dave has a difficult relationship. Verdon explores this dynamic well, letting us get a view of Gurney beneath the controlled exterior. Gurney's enigmatic wife Madeleine continually intrigues me. Her love of nature, colour and life are in stark contrast to Gurney's pursuit of killers. What makes this marriage work? Verdon allows to see into this relationship a little more every time. Madeline is still my favourite supporting character. Another recurring character is Detective Jack Hartwick. The testy relationship between Jack and Dave is entertaining. I did find it hard to warm up to Kim; I found her to be manipulative and self centered. So, the characters are great. What about the plot? Well, this is where Verdon shines. The plotting is impeccable, complex and devious. There are two plot lines running simultaneously - could they connected? Gurney's reasoning and thought processes were fascinating. I enjoyed the matching of wits between the FBI, their psychologist consultant and Dave. We get to reopen the case with Dave as he explores past files. However, the past is not content to stay buried and the tension, thrills and stakes are heightened as the killer puts Dave squarely in his line of sight. I had absolutely no idea whodunit until the last few pages. I love not being able to figure out the case until the end. Just a great series. You could read any of the books as a stand alone, but I bet you'll be hunting down the other two!
Date published: 2012-07-30

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter 1SpringThe French doors were open.From where Dave Gurney was standing by the breakfast table, he could see that the last patches of winter snow, like reluctant glaciers, had receded from the open pasture and survived now only in the more recessed and shadowed places in the surrounding woods.The mixed fragrances of the newly exposed earth and the previous summer’s unmowed hay drifted into the big farmhouse kitchen. These were smells that once had the power to enthrall him. Now they barely touched him.“You should step outside,” said Madeleine from where she stood at the sink, washing out her cereal bowl. “Step out into the sun. It’s quite glorious.”“Yes, I can see that,” he said, not moving.“Sit and have your coffee in one of the Adirondack chairs,” she said, setting the bowl down in the drying rack on the countertop. “You could use some sun.”“Hmm.” He nodded meaninglessly and took another sip from the mug he was holding. “Is this the same coffee we’ve been using?”“What’s wrong with it?”“I ­didn’t say anything was wrong with it.”“Yes, it’s the same coffee.”He sighed. “I think I’m getting a cold. Last couple of days, things ­haven’t had much taste.”She rested her hands on the edge of the sink island and looked at him. “You need to get out more. You need to do something.”“Right.”“I mean it. You can’t just sit in the house and stare at the wall all day. It will make you sick. It is making you sick. Of course nothing tastes like anything. Have you called Connie Clarke back?”“I will.”“When?”“When I feel like it.”He ­didn’t think it was a feeling he was likely to have in the foreseeable future. ­That’s just the way he was these ­days—­the way he’d been for the past six months. It was as though, after the injuries he’d suffered at the end of the bizarre Jillian Perry murder case, he had withdrawn from everything connected with normal ­life—­daily tasks, planning, people, phone calls, commitments of any kind. He’d gotten to the point where he liked nothing better than a blank calendar page for the coming ­month—­no appointments, no promises. He’d come to equate withdrawal with freedom.At the same time, he had the objectivity to know that what was happening to him ­wasn’t good, that there was no peace in his freedom. His predominant feeling was hostility, not serenity.To some extent he understood the strange entropy that was unwinding the fabric of his life and isolating him. Or at least he could list what he believed to be its causes. Near the top of the list he’d place the tinnitus he’d been experiencing since he emerged from his coma. In all likelihood it had actually begun two weeks before that, when three shots were fired at him in a small room at nearly ­point-­blank range.The persistent sound in his ears (which the ear, nose, and throat specialist had explained ­wasn’t a “sound” at all but rather a neural anomaly that the brain misinterpreted as sound) was hard to describe. The pitch was high, the volume low, the timbre like a softly hissed musical note. The phenomenon was fairly common among rock musicians and combat veterans, was anatomically mysterious, and, apart from occasional cases of spontaneous remission, was generally incurable. “Frankly, Detective Gurney,” the doctor had concluded, “considering what you’ve been through, considering the trauma and the coma, ending up with a mild ringing in your ears is a damn lucky outcome.”It ­wasn’t a conclusion Dave could argue with. But it ­hadn’t made it any easier for him to adjust to the faint whine that enveloped him when all else was silent. It was a particular problem at night. What in daylight might resemble the harmless whistling of a teakettle in a distant room became in the darkness a sinister presence, a cold, metallic atmosphere that encased him.Then there were the ­dreams—­claustrophobic dreams that recalled his hospital experiences, memories of the constricting cast that had held his arm immobile, the difficulty he’d had in ­breathing—­dreams that left him feeling panicky for long minutes after awakening.He still had a numb spot on his right forearm close to where the first of his assailant’s bullets had shattered the wrist bone. He checked the spot regularly, sometimes hourly, in hopes that its numbness was ­receding—­or, on bleaker days, in fear that it was spreading. There were occasional, unpredictable, stabbing pains in his side where the second bullet had passed through him. There was also an intermittent ­tingling—­like an itch impervious to ­scratching—­at the center of his hairline where the third bullet had fractured his skull.Perhaps the most distressing effect of being wounded was the constant need he now felt to be armed. He’d carried a gun on the job because regulations had required it. Unlike most cops, he had no fondness for firearms. And when he left the department after ­twenty-­five years, he left behind, along with his gold detective’s shield, the need to carry a weapon.Until he was shot.And now, each morning as he got dressed, the inevitable final item he put on was a small ankle holster holding a .32 Beretta. He hated the emotional need for it. Hated the change in him that required the damn thing to always be with him. He’d hoped the need would gradually diminish, but so far that ­wasn’t happening.On top of everything else, it seemed to him that Madeleine had been watching him in recent weeks with a new kind of worry in her ­eyes—­not the fleeting looks of pain and panic he’d seen in the hospital, or the alternating expressions of hopefulness and anxiety that had accompanied his early recovery, but something quieter and ­deeper—­a ­half-­hidden chronic dread, as if she were witnessing something terrible.Still standing by the breakfast table, he finished his coffee in two large swallows. Then he carried the mug to the sink and let the hot water run into it. He could hear Madeleine down the hall in the mudroom, cleaning out the cat’s litter box. The cat had recently been added to the household at Madeleine’s initiative. Gurney wondered why. Was it to cheer him up? Engage him in the life of a creature other than himself? If so, it ­wasn’t working. He had no more interest in the cat than in anything else.“I’m going to take a shower,” he announced.He heard Madeleine say something in the mudroom that sounded like “Good.” He ­wasn’t sure ­that’s what she said, but he ­didn’t see any point in asking. He went into the bathroom and turned on the hot water.A long, steamy ­shower—­the energetic spray pelting his back minute after minute from the base of his neck down to the base of his spine, relaxing muscles, opening capillaries, clearing mind and ­sinuses—­produced in him a feeling of ­well-­being that was both wonderful and fleeting.By the time he’d dressed again and returned to the French doors, a jangled sense of unease was already beginning to reassert itself. Madeleine was outside now on the bluestone patio. Beyond the patio was the small section of the pasture that had, through two years of frequent mowings, come to resemble a lawn. Clad in a rough barn jacket, orange sweatpants, and green rubber boots, she was working her way along the edge of the flagstones, stamping enthusiastically down on a spade every six inches, creating a clear demarcation, digging out the encroaching roots of the wild grasses. She gave him a look that seemed at first to convey an invitation for him to join in the project, then disappointment at his obvious reluctance to do so.Irritated, he purposely looked away, his gaze drifting down the hillside to his green tractor parked by the barn.She followed his line of sight. “I was wondering, could you use the tractor to smooth out the ruts?”“Ruts?”“Where we park the cars.”“Sure . . .” he said hesitantly. “I guess.”“It ­doesn’t have to be done right this minute.”“Hmm.” All traces of equanimity from his shower were now gone, as his train of thought shifted to the peculiar tractor problem he’d discovered a month ago and had largely put out of his ­mind—­except for those paranoid moments when it drove him crazy.Madeleine appeared to be studying him. She smiled, put down her spade, and walked around to the side door, evidently so she could take off her boots in the mudroom before coming into the kitchen.He took a deep breath and stared at the tractor, wondering for the twentieth time about the mysteriously jammed brake. As if acting in malignant harmony, a dark cloud slowly obliterated the sun. Spring, it seemed, had come and gone.Chapter 2A Huge Favor for Connie ClarkeThe Gurney property was situated on the saddle of a ridge at the end of a rural road outside the Catskill village of Walnut Crossing. The old farmhouse was set on the gentle southern slope of the saddle. An overgrown pasture separated it from a large red barn and a deep pond ringed by cattails and willows, backed by a beech, maple, and ­black-­cherry forest. To the north a second pasture rose along the ridgeline ­toward a pine forest and a string of small abandoned bluestone quarries that looked out over the next valley.The weather had gone through the kind of dramatic ­about-­face that was far more common in the Catskill Mountains than in New York City, where Dave and Madeleine had come from. The sky had become a featureless slaty blanket drawn over the hills. The temperature seemed to have dropped at least ten degrees in ten minutes.A superfine sleet was beginning to fall. Gurney closed the French doors. As he pulled them tight to secure the latches, he felt a piercing pain in the right side of his stomach. A moment later another followed. This was something he was used to, nothing that three ibuprofens ­couldn’t suppress. He headed for the bathroom medicine cabinet, thinking that the worst part of it ­wasn’t the physical discomfort, the worst part was the feeling of vulnerability, the realization that the only reason he was alive was that he’d been lucky.Luck was not a concept he liked. It seemed to him to be the ­fool’s substitute for competence. Random chance had saved his life, but random chance was not a trustworthy ally. He knew younger men who believed in good luck, relied on good luck, thought it was something they owned. But at the age of ­forty-­eight, Gurney knew damn well that luck is only luck, and the invisible hand that flips the coin is as cold as a corpse.The pain in his side also reminded him that he’d been meaning to cancel his upcoming appointment with his neurologist in Binghamton. He’d had four appointments with the man in less than four months, and they seemed increasingly pointless, unless the only point was to send Gurney’s insurance company another bill.He kept that phone number with his other medical numbers in his den desk. Instead of continuing into the bathroom for the ibuprofen, he went into the den to make the call. As he was entering the number, he was picturing the doctor: a preoccupied man in his late thirties, with wavy black hair already receding, small eyes, girlish mouth, weak chin, silky hands, manicured fingernails, expensive loafers, dismissive manner, and no visible interest in anything that Gurney thought or felt. The three women who inhabited his sleek, contemporary reception area seemed perpetually confused and irritated by the doctor, by his patients, and by the data on their computer screens.The phone was answered on the fourth ring with an impatience verging on contempt. “Dr. Huffbarger’s office.”“This is David Gurney, I have an upcoming appointment that ­I’d—­”The sharp voice cut him off. “Hold on, please.”In the background he could hear a raised male voice that he thought for a moment belonged to an angry patient reeling off a long, urgent ­complaint—­until a second voice asked a question and a third voice joined the fray in a similar tone of loud, ­fast-­talking ­indignation—­and Gurney realized that what he was hearing was the cable news channel that made sitting in Huffbarger’s waiting room insufferable.“Hello?” said Gurney with a definite edge. “Anybody there? Hello?”“Just a minute, please.”The voices that he found so abrasively ­empty-­headed continued in the background. He was about to hang up when the receptionist’s voice returned.“Dr. Huffbarger’s office, can I help you?”“Yes. This is David Gurney. I have an appointment I want to cancel.”“The date?”“A week from today at ­eleven-­forty a.m.”“Spell your name, please.”He was about to question how many people had appointments on that same day at 11:40, but he spelled his name instead.“And when do you wish to reschedule it?”“I don’t. I’m just canceling it.”“You’ll need to reschedule it.”“What?”“I can reschedule Dr. Huffbarger’s appointments, not cancel them.”“But the fact ­is—­”She interrupted, sounding exasperated. “An existing appointment can’t be removed from the system without inserting a revised date. ­That’s the doctor’s policy.”Gurney could feel his lips tightening with anger, way too much anger. “I don’t ­really care much about his system or his policy,” he said slowly, stiffly. “Consider my appointment canceled.”“There will be a ­missed-­appointment charge.”“No there won’t. And if Huffbarger has a problem with that, tell him to call me.” He hung up, tense, feeling a twinge of chagrin at his childish twisting of the neurologist’s name.He stared out the den window at the high pasture without ­really seeing it.What the ­hell’s the matter with me?A jab of pain in his right side offered a partial answer. It also reminded him that he’d been on his way to the medicine cabinet when he’d made his ­appointment-­canceling detour.He returned to the bathroom. He ­didn’t like the look of the man who looked back at him from the mirror on the cabinet door. His forehead was lined with worry, his skin colorless, his eyes dull and tired.Christ.He knew he had to get back to his daily exercise ­regimen—­the sets of ­push-­ups, ­chin-­ups, ­sit-­ups that had once kept him in better shape than most men half his age. But now the man in the mirror was looking every bit of ­forty-­eight, and he ­wasn’t happy about it. He ­wasn’t happy about the daily messages of mortality his body was sending him. He ­wasn’t happy about his descent from mere introversion into isolation. He ­wasn’t happy about . . . anything.

Editorial Reviews

“It’s always a pleasure to watch a keen mind absorbed in a difficult puzzle, which is how Dave Gurney distinguishes himself in John Verdon’s tricky whodunits.”--New York Times “A razor-sharp serial killer thriller…The third Dave Gurney whodunit is a breakneck, knockout ride...The tension is palpable on virtually every page of a story that perfectly balances the protagonist’s complex inner life with an elaborately constructed puzzle.”--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) “A masterful bit of writing that builds to a surprising and satisfying climax. The tension and enigmatic situations created en route to the conclusion make this book a definite nail-biter. John Verdon’s writing skill might well cause him to become known as ‘The Puzzle Master.’”-New York Journal of Books “A brilliant and absorbing mystery…I love this series, as much for its thoughtful social commentary (on the media this time) as for its mysteries.  Let the Devil Sleep is even better than Shut Your Eyes Tight…Highly recommended.”--Bookloons