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Think of a Number (Book)

A Police Thriller by John Verdon

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What if Someone Could Actually Guess the Number You Were Thinking Of?

  • Apr 15, 2010
I couldn't put this book down. An excellent thriller that begins when David Gurney, a retired NYC detective is approached by an old college friend (Mark Mellory). Neither had spoken since college but Mellory had followed Gurney's storied career as he had solved some very famous police cases. On top of that Mellory had always thought of Gurney as someone with a sharp mind.

Mellory has a puzzle to solve and he thinks someone of Gurney's mettle may be of assistance. Apparently he had received a somewhat threatening letter by someone who claims he know something bad that Mellory did and that he knows Mellory so well that he can guess the first number that comes to Mellory's mind from 1 to 1000. Mellory thought of the number 656 and sure enough a second letter comes with the number 656 written on it.

Along with that letter comes a series of poems, each more threatening followed by phone calls. Gurney is intrigued and starts investigating for Mellory even though he is "retired."

This whole thing does not sit well with Gurney's wife Madelaine. She had always wanted Gurney to retire and move away from NYC to the country and they live in a very rural town called Walnut Crossing. Madelaine always felt that Gurney would always be so absorbed by his work that he would forget everything else and this feeling had only been amplified by the death of their young son several years earlier.

As Gurney gets more involved in Mellory's problem he builds a bigger rift with Madelaine. The investigation leads to the trail of a possible serial killer. The local authorities are baffled and feel that they need someone with Gurney's skill to solve the mysteries left behind by the killer. Gurney realized that he may only be retired in name but in reality he starts acting like a cop again and gets involved with the case to the exclusion of all else.

The mystery at the beginning of the book grips you and the book builds to a tension packed finale.

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I first got on this blog to discuss my first passion which is books. Since I have gotten on I find that books are only a piece of this blog and I can discuss just about anything that comes to mind. It … more
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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...
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