Andre Farant's Reviews > Shut Your Eyes Tight

Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon
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Mar 11, 12

Read from February 25 to March 11, 2012

After the success of his debut, Think of a Number, John Verdon serves up another clever thriller with Shut Your Eyes Tight. A young woman is beheaded on her wedding day. All signs point to the crime having been committed by a migrant worker employed by the victim’s wealthy fiancée—but then there’s the placement of the murder weapon, the school for sexual deviants, and the Sardinian crime family . . .

There are elements of the closed room mystery in Shut Your Eyes Tight, as Gurney tries to figure out how the killer left the crime scene without being spotted by any of the guests or cameras at the wedding, but it soon becomes clear that the resolution to the murder has its
roots in the past—a twisted, sordid past, naturally.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for such crime thrillers, the kind that dig deep into the characters’ pasts to rectify an ongoing wrong. It’s why I love Jonathan Kellerman’s work, he’s a master at the moving forward by hunting backwards formula. And in fact, Shut Your Eyes Tight often reminded me of some of Kellerman’s titles. This is both good and bad, compliment and criticism, given that, while reading Verdon’s latest, I’d find myself missing Alex and Milo rather than forming attachments to Gurney and his fellow psycho hunters.

This is a minor criticism though, one that, as mentioned, can also serve as praise, but I did have one major beef with Shut Your Eyes Tight, and it’s one I’d had with Verdon’s debut as well: Madeleine, Gurney’s wife, continues to irritate the holy hell out of me. She is a singularly unlikable character, humourless, critical, passive-aggressive, dull, so certain that her way of enjoying life is the best way—I could go on. My biggest hope is that she’ll just divorce Gurney and call it a day so that we can all be rid of her.

For now, I would read a third Gurney novel but, if Madeleine remains a significant player, and isn’t developed beyond being some holier-than-thou thorn in Gurney’s (and the reader’s) side, I’ll likely give up on Verdon and stick to Kellerman.

Okay—(breathe, Andre)—Madeleine aside, Shut Your Eyes Tight, like its predecessor, is a solid read, written with confidence and enlivened with (mostly) interesting characters and well-executed twists. I do recommend it, especially for fans of Kellerman’s who’ve run out of Alex and Milo adventures to read, but time—and future titles—will tell if Madeleine will succeed in chasing Gurney away from his passions, and me away from Verdon’s work.
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