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Think of a Number (Dave Gurney, No.1)
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Think of a Number (Dave Gurney, No.1)
A Novel
Edition: Unabridged
Creators: John Verdon, George Newbern
Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Imprint: Random House Audio
Pub. date: 07/06/2010
Lib. SRP: 95.00 USD
Ret. SRP: 22.50 USD
Format: OverDrive WMA Audiobook
Lib. ISBN: 9780307715302
Ret. ISBN: 9780307715289
DRM Level: Windows Media DRM
Min. Version: OverDrive app 1.0 / 1.0 (Windows Mobile)
File size: 194487 KB
Duration: 13:31:58
Languages:
   English
Subjects:
   Fiction, Thriller
  null
Short Description:
   

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...

Full Description:
   The first book in the Dave Gurney series, Think of a Number is a heart-pounding game of cat and mouse that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates

Threatening letters arrive in the mail over a period of weeks, ending with a simple declaration: "Think of any number...picture it...now see how well I know your secrets." Those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. But when oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle quickly ignite into a massive serial murder investigation, police are confronted with a 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.

Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney, a recently retired NYPD homicide investigator, 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 he wonders if he's met an adversary who can't be stopped.

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.
Excerpts:
  

From the book

     

Chapter 1

Cop art

Jason Strunk was by all accounts an inconsequential fellow, a bland thirty-something, nearly invisible to his neighbors--and apparently inaudible as well, since none could recall a single specific thing he'd ever said. They couldn't even be certain that he'd ever spoken. Perhaps he'd nodded, perhaps said hello, perhaps muttered a word or two. It was hard to say.

All expressed a conventional initial amazement, even a temporary disbelief, at the revelation of Mr. Strunk's obsessive devotion to killing middle-aged men with mustaches and his uniquely disturbing way of disposing of the bodies: cutting them into manageable segments, wrapping them colorfully, and mailing them to local police officers as Christmas presents.

Dave Gurney gazed intently at the colorless, placid face of Jason Strunk--actually, the original Central Booking mug shot of Jason Strunk--that stared back at him from his computer screen. The mug shot had been enlarged to make the face life-size, and it was surrounded at the borders of the screen by the tool icons of a creative photo-retouching program that Gurney was just starting to get the hang of.

He moved one of the brightness-control tools on the screen to the iris of Strunk's right eye, clicked his mouse, and then examined the small highlight he'd created.

Better, but still not right.

The eyes were always the hardest--the eyes and the mouth--but they were the key. Sometimes he had to experiment with the position and intensity of one tiny highlight for hours, and even then he'd end up with something not quite what it should be, not good enough to show to Sonya, and definitely not Madeleine.

The thing about the eyes was that they, more than anything else, captured the tension, the contradiction--the uncommunicative blandness spiked with a hint of cruelty that Gurney had often discerned in the faces of murderers with whom he'd had the opportunity to spend quality time.

He'd gotten the look right with his patient manipulation of the mug shot of Jorge Kunzman (the Walmart stock clerk who always kept the head of his last date in his refrigerator until he could replace it with one more recent). He'd been pleased with the result, which conveyed with disturbing immediacy the deep black emptiness lurking in Mr. Kunzman's bored expression, and Sonya's excited reaction, her gush of praise, had solidified his opinion. It was that reception, plus the unexpected sale of the piece to one of Sonya's collector friends, that motivated him to produce the series of creatively doctored photographs now being featured in a show headlined Portraits of Murderers by the Man Who Caught Them, in Sonya's small but pricey gallery in Ithaca.

How a recently retired NYPD homicide detective with a yawning uninterest in art in general and trendy art in particular, and a deep distaste for personal notoriety, could have ended up as the focus of a chic university-town art show described by local critics as "a cutting-edge blend of brutally raw photographs, unflinching psychological insights, and masterful graphic manipulations" was a question with two very different answers: his own and his wife's.

As far as he was concerned, it all began with Madeleine's cajoling him into taking an art-appreciation course with her at the museum in Cooperstown. She was forever trying to get him out--out of his den, out of the house, out of himself, just out. He'd learned that the best way to stay in control of his own time was through the strategy of periodic capitulations. The art-appreciation course was one of these strategic moves, and although he dreaded the prospect of sitting through it, he expected it to...

Reviews:
  Washington Post
     

"[An] inventive and entertaining first thriller. The hard-edged characters and gritty plot recall Chandler's "mean streets," but the ornate puzzles laid before Verdon's detective might have challenged the "little grey cells" of Hercule Poirot."

  New York Times
      "Mr. Verdon was an advertising executive who retired to upstate New York before deciding on a more artistic pursuit. And if THINK OF A NUMBER is any indication, he'll have no trouble forgetting about that day job. The transition couldn't be much smoother...Verdon is masterly at keeping Gurney [his protagonist] a step ahead of the reader [and] the murder itself is a pretty crafty piece of legerdemain....[The novel features] the kind of head-scratching setup that would get Sherlock Holmes off his cocaine [and] Gurney has the same precision, logic and thirst for clarity."
  Portland Oregonian
      "Verdon's deftly written, erudite debut is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense."
  Chicago Sun-Times
      "Mostly what makes this work is the intricate fabric that debut novelist Verdon weaves, as complications twist into what seems to be an impossible knot."
  Newark Star Ledger
      "Good writing and good storytelling often aren't the same thing. Verdon combines them masterfully...Here's hoping Verdon has what it takes to churn out more books like this."
  Salon
      "Verdon's brought back crimes of impossibility, starting with the titular parlor game trifle and escalating until we're deep into serial murder territory. Verdon is a master at controlling pace, illustrating the story of a rich but complicated marriage, pondering what it means to be sucked back into your life's work even if it might kill you, and demanding that the reader use his or her brain to figure out what comes next. When you're finished, you may not trust silly parlor games ever again."
  Houston Chronicle
      "Savor the sense of loss that haunts this strong debut."
  The Herald-Dispatch (West Virginia)
      "John Verdon has...created an incredible crime novel which could give Steig Larsson a run for his well-earned money...All of the characters are incredibly well developed...The descriptions of scenes make you feel like you are there, and the plot is brilliant."
  New York Journal of Books
      "Will hook just about any reader...An astoundingly addictive work filled with real life characters that jump off the page into a daring and skillful plot, this book will leave you stumped and hungry for more...THINK OF A NUMBER excels in its interweaving of wonderful characterization and psychological Insight...[Verdon] has created a book for all readers, not just those who revel in the thriller genre."
  Mystery Scene
      "Think of a number between one and ten...Now multiply that by zero. Which is how many times you'll put this book down."
  Publishers Weekly
      "The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon's deft, literate debut."
  Thomas Gaughan, Booklist (Starred 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. An outstanding debut."
  Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of VANISHED
      "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."
  S.J. Rozan, Edgar-winning author of THE SHANGHAI MOON
      "Verdon's premise is clever and his police work convincing, which right there might be enough; but the real joy of this book is its characters. Each one, no matter how minor, is unique and beautifully observed. THINK OF A NUMBER had me from the opening pages and carried me right along."
  Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of ICE COLD
      "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."
  Faye Kellerman, New York Times bestseller author of STONE KISS and THE FORGOTTEN
      "With its edge-of-the-chair suspense, memorable characters that jump off the pages, and elegant and deft writing, John Verdon's THINK OF A NUMBER is a stunning debut."
  AudioFile Magazine
      Legendary NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney, newly retired, is asked by an old college friend to find out who has been sending him taunting letters filled with threats and innuendo. Gurney's clever, thoughtful wife, Madeline, and the couple's unraveling marriage also figure prominently in the suspense. George Newbern helps create Verdon's compelling, well-drawn characters, giving them unique, carefully crafted voices. Newbern's portrayal of Gurney is characterized by a wry tone. As listeners are immersed in the drama of Gurney's past, the seemingly clairvoyant killer develops his knack for disappearing. S.C.A. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine
Creator Marketing:
  John Verdon     
      John Verdon is a former Manhattan advertising executive who lives with his wife in the mountains of upstate New York. His first three Dave Gurney novels, Think of a Number, Shut Your Eyes Tight, and Let the Devil Sleep, are all international bestsellers.
OverDrive WMA Audiobook (OAB) Rights:
  Burning to disk not permitted
  Transfer permitted to compatible devices (3 times)
     Transfer to iPod®/Apple® device permitted
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