Do you believe in Fate? I do, because I thought I'd never see you again -- and then one day, there you were. It all came back: how you sound, how you move -- most of all, how you think. If someone told you to think of a number, I know what number you'd think of. You don't believe me? I'll prove it to you. Think of any number up to a thousand -- the first number that comes to mind. Picture it. Now see how well I know your secrets. Open the little envelope. -- Think of a Number by John Verdon
NYPD homicide investigator David Gurney retired to a beautiful and remote town in upstate New York with his wife Madeleine. While Madeleine loves the change of pace and scenery, Gurney is finds it difficult to adjust. He's spent the last twenty years putting homicide cases first, a fact that hasn't been lost on his wife. Madeleine has clear ideas of how they can enjoy their new life together and her frustration and annoyance is quick to rise to the fore. When she encourages him to take art classes, she hadn't expected him to come up with computer enhanced portraits of murderers -- or for the portraits to become such a hit in their local gallery.
As Gurney is settling into retirement, he receives a cry for help from an old college acquaintance. A successful writer and wellness guru is targeted with letters that claim to know what he's thinking: "See how well I know your secrets -- just think of a number." And the letter writer somehow guessed the exact number.
But the taunting moves from letters to violence and along with a ravaged body are puzzling clues. David Gurney agrees to aid the investigation.
In David Gurney, John Verdon gives us a complex and sympathetic new detective -- I hope that it is the start of a new series. Verdon skillfully creates a top notch thriller. He builds on the puzzles and clues from the crime scenes to present a coherent and satisfying story. I also appreciated and enjoyed Verdon's description of Gurney's home life. It was easy to picture Madeleine, her attempts to have Gurney plant tulips, clear the snow, and settle into their new life -- and her resentment at the way that Gurney returns the chase. Think of a Number: A Novel is a nuanced, complicated, and thoroughly entertaining read.
ISBN-10: 0307588920 - Hardcover $22.00
Publisher: Crown (July 6, 2010), 432 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours.
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.
The e-book is offered at a special price of $5.99 from July 12 to July 25. You can get this special price on the Random House website or any of the sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders) that sell e-books.