NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Monday, July 25, 2011

Think of a Number by John Verdon

3.0 out of 5 stars "Everyone wants to be recognized as justified"

This debut novel featuring former homicide detective Dave Gurney is a nice introduction to what seems to be a new series.

The premise: someone is sending taunting letters to random men. The letters purport to know of secret misdeeds from their pasts -- and the sender seems to be able to read their minds as he asks them to "think of a number" -- which he identifies.

Murder follows. Is this really the work of a true serial killer? What are the motives for the unusual rituals that the killer uses, patterns that repeat in subsequent cases. How are the murders related?

Dave Gurney is known for his logic and puzzle solving skills. Though he had retired, he is called back to help the local police investigate the crimes. His wife, Madeline, is not happy about his return as he has the unfortunate problem with becoming completely absorbed in his work.

The mystery is solved, and though predictable if the reader is paying close attention, the conclusion is satisfying.

So why 3 stars? The story was good enough but I just couldn't get past the superficiality. The characters are not fully developed and though the author hints of situations and issues from the past, nothing is explained and they seem aloof and I didn't connect with them nor empathize with them. I did not care at all for Madeline nor her role in basically giving this 'famed detective' many of the answers to confounding clues in the book. I wondered who was actually solving the case! That was a real irritant to me while reading.

I am interested enough in Dave Gurney to contemplate reading the second book in the series, Shut Your Eyes Tight (Dave Gurney, No. 2): A Novel, but won't rush right out to obtain it.

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