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Think of a Number

by

Think of a Number Cover

ISBN13: 9780307588920
ISBN10: 0307588920
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon's deft, literate debut. Recently retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney is an old warhorse much too easily led to water, in the view of his increasingly disenchanted wife, who insists it's now me-time. But it surprises neither of them that Gurney snaps at the lure when a beleaguered friend sets before him a tasty, number-driven puzzle. Mark Mellery has been receiving mysterious mailings that terrify him because he's convinced the author of them can somehow read his mind, and because the mailings threaten his death for crimes he can't recall having committed. Nor is Mellery the only one, it soon become evident, as a particularly malignant serial killer buckles down to business. Ever the puzzle master, Gurney tracks and unravels each clue until — in an attenuated denouement that constitutes one of this thriller's rare self-indulgences — he finally makes the numbers add up. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Verdon's superb debut novel is a riveting thriller with a wonderfully baffling crime....Think of a Number is a 10, and crime fans of almost every persuasion will love it." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Addictive and thoroughly engrossing....In Think of a Number, Verdon plays deliciously on our deepest, most primal fears, portraying a killer who seems to see right into people's minds. Few readers will be able to resist the lure of watching an unstoppable detective track an uncatchable killer. This tale will grab hold of you like a steel jaw trap." Joseph Finder, New York Times-bestselling author of Vanished

Review:

"Spectacular and mind-bending, Think of a Number is the best thriller I've read in a long, long time. John Verdon's writing is so polished, so nuanced, it makes me envious that I didn't write this terrific novel." Tess Gerritsen, New York Times-bestselling author of Ice Cold

Review:

"Think of a Number is truly unputdownable. Rarely have I read a debut novel that has gripped me as this one has from the first page to the last. This book doesn't just entertain — it engages you and draws you immediately into the lives of the characters, who are as real as real can be. John Verdon has written a flawless novel about flawed people and he's written it beautifully. I hope we see a lot more of John Verdon and his smart protagonist, Dave Gurney, in years to come." Nelson DeMille, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lion's Game, The General's Daughter, and Gold Coast

Synopsis:

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.

Synopsis:

Hailed as “a suspense master” by Stephen King, Linwood Barclay now reveals the dark side of a small town—and the even darker secrets that hide there...

Its been two months since private investigator Cal Weavers teenage son Scott died in a tragic accident. Ever since, he and his wife have drifted apart, fracturing a once normal life. Cal is mired in grief, a grief he cant move past. And maybe his grief has clouded his judgment. Because driving home one night, he makes his first big mistake.

A girl drenched in rain taps on his car window and asks for a ride as he sits at a stoplight. Even though he knows a fortysomething man picking up a teenage hitchhiker is a fool, he lets her in. Shes the same age as Scott, and maybe she can help Cal find the dealer who sold his son the drugs that killed him. After a brief stop at a roadside diner, Cal senses that somethings not right with the girl or the situation. But its too late. Hes already involved.

Now Cal is drawn into a nightmare of pain and suspicion. Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal has decided to expose those secrets one by one.

Thats his second big mistake.

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

OneMansView, October 6, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Can someone really know what you are thinking?

Renowned homicide detective Dave Gurney, at age forty-seven, has recently retired to an old farmhouse in the Catskills of New York with his wife Madeline. He is hoping for a fresh start in his life: enjoying life and his wife and not over analyzing everything – the very trait that enabled him to solve unsolvable crimes. Maybe he should have known that one cannot outrun a reputation, as well as one’s entire past and personality quite so easily.

A person he only vaguely knew in college, Mark Mellery, now the operator of a spiritual healing center for the rich, contacts him for assistance with a series of cryptic, threatening poems that Mark has been sent that accurately include the specific number that he was asked to randomly pick by the mysterious sender. A returned, uncashed check that was supposedly a payment to learn the sender’s identity freaks out Mark enough to contact Gurney. Gurney is hesitant to get involved, but the strange, contrived, and brutal murder of Mark compels him to participate as a special assistant to the ambitious district attorney.

The story is interesting from various standpoints. Gurney is clearly dealing with a clever psychopath. The crime scenes are constructed to induce the utmost confusion. Unfortunately, the incidence of murders seems to be increasing and only Gurney and a forensic psychologist, among the mostly clueless and egotistical investigators, are aware of the difficulties and possibilities of apprehending this serial killer.

In addition, the difficulties between Gurney and his wife seem to be reaching the breaking point. His wife, a spontaneous person and lover of nature, cannot understand Gurney’s seeming obsessions. But Gurney cannot simply turn off his propensity for isolation, thinking, problem-solving, etc. Furthermore, he knows that his estranged relationship with his father years before is contributing to his inabilities to connect with others. But these characters do seem capable of arriving at an understanding.

The book is a very good first novel. The characters are appealing with recognizable problems; and the plot is somewhat unusual, though not implausible. The book does get a bit bogged down in places, but generally moves well. The author also well captures the weather and scenery of the Catskills.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Ronrose, August 3, 2010 (view all comments by Ronrose)

I found this to be one of the most satisfying thriller/mystery books I have read in a while. If you like puzzles, you will love this book. It details a murder in upstate New York and subsequent murders that are wrapped in an enigma. Dave Gurney, a celebrated but retired NYPD homicide detective, is contacted by Mark Mellery, an old college acquaintance, to help unwrap the mystery of some letters he has received. What would you do if you received a letter that asked you to think of a number and correctly predicts the number you chose? Then you receive more letters and phone calls that purport to reveal the less savory aspects of your private life. Mark asks Dave to put his investigative skills to work to thwart the letter ploy, but Mark suddenly shows up brutally murdered. Dave is swept up in the official investigation, lending his expertise to try and solve the mysterious and incongruous clues purposefully left by the killer. The book is well thought out. The mystery is intriguing. The clues are like breadcrumbs dropped skillfully by the killer to lead Dave, the police, and the reader to a bloody denouement.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
gaby317, July 14, 2010 (view all comments by gaby317)
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
Publisher: Crown (July 6, 2010), 432 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307588920
Author:
Verdon, John
Publisher:
NAL Hardcover
Author:
Barclay, Linwood
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
Police -- New York (State) -- New York.
Subject:
General
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Popular Fiction-Contemporary Thrillers
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Suspense
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20130806
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers

Think of a Number Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Crown Publishing Group (NY) - English 9780307588920 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon's deft, literate debut. Recently retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney is an old warhorse much too easily led to water, in the view of his increasingly disenchanted wife, who insists it's now me-time. But it surprises neither of them that Gurney snaps at the lure when a beleaguered friend sets before him a tasty, number-driven puzzle. Mark Mellery has been receiving mysterious mailings that terrify him because he's convinced the author of them can somehow read his mind, and because the mailings threaten his death for crimes he can't recall having committed. Nor is Mellery the only one, it soon become evident, as a particularly malignant serial killer buckles down to business. Ever the puzzle master, Gurney tracks and unravels each clue until — in an attenuated denouement that constitutes one of this thriller's rare self-indulgences — he finally makes the numbers add up. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Verdon's superb debut novel is a riveting thriller with a wonderfully baffling crime....Think of a Number is a 10, and crime fans of almost every persuasion will love it."
"Review" by , "Addictive and thoroughly engrossing....In Think of a Number, Verdon plays deliciously on our deepest, most primal fears, portraying a killer who seems to see right into people's minds. Few readers will be able to resist the lure of watching an unstoppable detective track an uncatchable killer. This tale will grab hold of you like a steel jaw trap."
"Review" by , "Spectacular and mind-bending, Think of a Number is the best thriller I've read in a long, long time. John Verdon's writing is so polished, so nuanced, it makes me envious that I didn't write this terrific novel."
"Review" by , "Think of a Number is truly unputdownable. Rarely have I read a debut novel that has gripped me as this one has from the first page to the last. This book doesn't just entertain — it engages you and draws you immediately into the lives of the characters, who are as real as real can be. John Verdon has written a flawless novel about flawed people and he's written it beautifully. I hope we see a lot more of John Verdon and his smart protagonist, Dave Gurney, in years to come." Nelson DeMille, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lion's Game, The General's Daughter, and Gold Coast
"Synopsis" by , 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.
"Synopsis" by ,
Hailed as “a suspense master” by Stephen King, Linwood Barclay now reveals the dark side of a small town—and the even darker secrets that hide there...

Its been two months since private investigator Cal Weavers teenage son Scott died in a tragic accident. Ever since, he and his wife have drifted apart, fracturing a once normal life. Cal is mired in grief, a grief he cant move past. And maybe his grief has clouded his judgment. Because driving home one night, he makes his first big mistake.

A girl drenched in rain taps on his car window and asks for a ride as he sits at a stoplight. Even though he knows a fortysomething man picking up a teenage hitchhiker is a fool, he lets her in. Shes the same age as Scott, and maybe she can help Cal find the dealer who sold his son the drugs that killed him. After a brief stop at a roadside diner, Cal senses that somethings not right with the girl or the situation. But its too late. Hes already involved.

Now Cal is drawn into a nightmare of pain and suspicion. Something is horribly wrong in the small town of Griffon in upstate New York. There are too many secrets there, too many lies and cover-ups. And Cal has decided to expose those secrets one by one.

Thats his second big mistake.

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