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So Conflicted...

  • Oct 25, 2011
Sherlock quote: "When you've eliminated what couldn't occur, what you're left with, no matter how...

With its tight writing, ingenious plot and compelling main characters, I felt that Think of a Number, John Verdon's first book featuring retired detective David Gurney, was simply one of THE best mysteries I've ever read (and believe me, I've read hundreds).

When I found out about Shut Your Eyes Tight, Verdon's second book featuring Dave Gurney, I could not WAIT to read it.

Like his first book, this is a "thinking person's" mystery. Author Verdon's deft characterizations border on literary (yeah, that good); in fact, the dynamics between Gurney and his wife, Madeleine, is arguably just as absorbing as the central mystery.

But here's the very big problem with Shut Your Eyes Tight: I figured out what the deal was within the first few chapters! This is highly unusual for any mystery, let alone with one written by a skillful writer like Verdon.

I kept telling myself "Don't tell me he's created such a great red herring that I'm completely falling for it!" I then grew concerned that what I was actually seeing was a major hole in the middle of the plot.

You see, David Gurney is a brilliant observer and detective. In fact, his colleagues won't leave him alone BECAUSE he's so good...and they try to drag him out of retirement (much to the chagrin of Madeleine).

A sharp detective asks great questions. As a reader, I became unsettled when Dave wasn't asking THE most obvious question of all (which I won't say here because it's a spoiler). In fact, NO ONE was floating about the supposition of "Wait: Is it possible that since ______, then it may be ______?"

This is the point when my stomach sank, I grew irritable, and suspected that MY theory was the right one...and that author Verdon screwed up big time with his "misdirection". When I got to the end and found I was correct, I was bordering on severely ticked off (this book is over 500 pages long...not a short investment in time!).

I was so exasperated! And yet, I couldn't hate the book because it was SO well written and absorbing!

But what kind of mystery is it when the main detective, touted for his deductive powers, doesn't ask the most obvious question of all (especially given certain "facts" that are presented multiple times, from multiple sources)?

Argggh! See my dilemma?

I will definitely read the next installment of the David Gurney series (provided there is a third book) simply because I love the characters Dave, Madeleine and even Jack Hardwick (Gurney's gruff, crude and obnoxious ex-partner).

I just hope that Verdon's next attempt at a "convoluted" mystery isn't so tangled that he once again leaves a huge gap in logic...and risks insulting, and alienating, his most ardent fans.

-- Janet Boyer, author of Back in Time Tarot, Tarot in Reverse and Snowland Tarot

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About the reviewer
Janet Boyer ()
Author of The Back in Time Tarot BookandTarot in Reverse. Co-creator of theSnowlandDeck. Amazon.com Hall ofFame/ VineReviewer; Freelance Writer/Reviewer; Blogger; Professional Tarot Reader/Teacher; Lover … more
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About this book


Guest Reviewer: Lisa Scottoline on Shut Your Eyes Tight

Lisa Scottolineis theNew York Timesbestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of 18 novels including her latest,Save Me. She is President of Mystery Writers of America and writes a weekly column,Chick Wit, with her daughter Francesca Serritella for thePhiladelphia Inquirer. The columns have been collected inWhy My Third Husband Will Be a DogandMy Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.

Voice is the hallmark of a great writer, and I loved John Verdon’s riveting Shut Your Eyes Tight from page one, because I fell in love with his voice.

Yes, the plot is a humdinger, too, with a bride turning up dead on her wedding day, whereupon former NYPD police detective Dave (“Don’t call me Davey”) Gurney is called out of an uneasy retirement to investigate the crime and find the killer. Gurney’s been settling into a country life in the Catskills, trying to force himself to think about mulch and bulldozers, but it ain’t working out so great. His superbly-drawn (if realistically tart-tongued) wife is hoping they can spend more time together, but Gurney is a “natural-born onion peeler” and he can’t sit on his hands when murder strikes in nearby, ritzy Tambury.

Gurney starts digging, asking thoughtful questions, and interviewing the society types who knew the bride, and soon his dining room table is covered with notes and gruesome crime-scene photos that his wife wishes ...

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ISBN-10: 0307717895
ISBN-13: 978-0307717894
Publisher: Crown

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"So Conflicted..."
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