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Think of a Number

(Dave Gurney #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  29,413 ratings  ·  2,446 reviews
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…pic
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published July 6th 2010 by Crown Publishing Group (NY)
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Erik I first read this book about a year after it came out (I think) and I remember talking to my mom about how much I loved the way the book made those se…moreI first read this book about a year after it came out (I think) and I remember talking to my mom about how much I loved the way the book made those seemingly impossible events have a rational explanation. One question you could pose to your book club is this: How important is it for rationality and logic to dictate conclusions of events? Personally speaking for the individuals that is.(less)

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  29,413 ratings  ·  2,446 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries, thriller
”Do you believe in Fate? I do, because I thought I’d never see you again--and then one day, there you were. It all came back: how you sound, how you move--most of all, how you think. If someone told you to think of a number, I know what number you’d think of. You don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. Think of any number up to a thousand--the first number that comes to mind. Picture it. Now see how well I know your secrets. Open the little envelope.”

How would someone know a random number picked
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
First in a series about a retired NYC super detective, Dave Gurney. Gurney is called back into service by a District Attorney as a consultant on a very puzzling murder case. Gurney's wife is not happy about him returning to work. The killer is said to be a genius, hates drunks, cops and enjoys leaving clues that baffle the police, enjoys leaving police mystified as to how he committed the crime. Gurney's wife says it's a match made in heaven .... Gurney says it's more like hell.
The puzzles of t
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-said

There is a new voice in psychological thrillers and his name is John Verdon. Think of a Number is an unbelievably, excellent debut novel. This one will grab you from the get go! The suspense builds, the plot thickens, your heart races, your palms sweat, the pace accelerates and you tighten your grip to navigate the twists and turns coming at break neck speed. Good thing the pages fairly turn themselves as you will need both of your hands to hold on. This book is unputdownable! The writing is cle
Sam Quixote
Jul 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
I made it to page 20 of this mediocre "thriller" before throwing in the towel. I realise that it's not giving it much of a chance, how could any writer bring energy or develop a plot in that time? Well some writers have, notably Michael Connelly and Stephen King, which is probably why they're as famous as they are.

John Verdon isn't much of a writer though. Here are some examples of his awful writing that made me put the book down:

"He realised that planting tulip bulbs on a glorious Indian-summ
I was actually looking forward to reading this, and man am I disappointed.
The things I didn't like were firstly and most importantly the writing! If there wasn't a picture of the author I would have guessed that this book was written by a 15 year old. If you can ignore all the cliches *rolls eyes* and the repetitions and you don't give two cents about it you shall be fine. I wasn't.
Other than that, I was let down by the killer. See John Verdon literally offered the killer's identity in a plate
James Thane
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: suspense
Dave Gurney has recently retired from his job as one of the NYPD's most talented homicide investigators. He's moved to a rural area in upstate New York and is attempting to rebuild his relationship with his wife, Madeleine, who has always been forced to take a back seat to his job. But then Dave receives a plea for help from Mark Mellery, an old college classmate, who has received a threatening communication--a poem, actually--from someone who claims to know his most intimate secrets.

To prove t
Andrew Smith
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dave Gurney was the star homicide detective of his generation. After a much decorated career he pulled the plug at the age of 47 and moved to the Catskills to farm and paint. It’s made clear the he and his wife are having their personal challenges: she thinks he’s not really been able to leave his job behind and truly move on and they both face an ongoing struggle to deal with the loss of their four-year-old daughter, some years ago. And then Dave gets a call from an ex-classmate he can barely r ...more
Dee Dee Walker
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
I just finished this book and I have to say that I was quite disapointed. I began this book with raving reviews. It wasn't until a was about half way through that I started to rethink how great this book was. I have to confess that I was totally caught up with the mystery of how the killer seems to read minds. Put quite simply, the killer ask the victim, via a letter, to think of a number and the killer professes to know what that number will be. The number is in a sealed envelope. The number is ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: serial-thrillers
First and most importantly, this was incredible.

This is not your standard run of the mill thriller. This will stretch the grey matter that lies between your ears.

For once all the testimonials on the cover are accurate, this is the best thriller I have read in a long time.

Dave Gurney, a highly venerated ex NYPD detective, is living the quiet life and enjoying his new hobby of artistically enhancing mug shots of convicted serial killer.
Out of the blue Dave gets a phone call from an old school
Retired Reader
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Given a range of 1-1000, which number would you choose if prompted, "Think of a number...?" How would you react if a total stranger could correctly guess that number on the first try? Amazed and scared? That's the premise behind this psychological thriller and it was very entertaining. If you like a book with a little intellectual "oomph," you will enjoy this one. Although I guessed the villain before the end of the story, I was stumped on how he pulled off the trick. Everything is explained and ...more
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, favourites
A sensational debut novel. It left my mind in knots and me uttering "WTF" on a regular basis. ...more
Sep 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is the first book of this writer that I 've read, and I am excited!!!
A very nice story, with a lot of mystery!!!
Rohit Enghakat
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
Fabulous thriller. This is one author to watch out for. This was his debut novel and it was engrossing right till the end. The title was intriguing and I was expecting a roller coaster of a book. i was not disappointed.

The story is about a retired cop Dave Gurney who is contacted by one of his classmates about letters / poems received from a stranger. Next thing you know, the friend drops dead and Dave is dragged into the murder investigation. More bodies fall and Dave is involved in a chase to
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's 9PM and I'm thinking: "I'll lay in bed for a bit, read and call it a night. Gotta get up early, wake my daughter up, fix her lunch, get breakfast ready and then take her to school." The book I'm reading is John Verdon's latest: Let the Devil Sleep. The plate that sits on top of the chimney on the roof sends the sound of rain - like soft staccato bullets - down the chimney chute into the bedroom. I hit the power switch on my Kindle and focus on the page before me.

After reading a few hundred
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Think Of A Number introduces John Gurney, a recently retired NY homicide detective with a talent for hunting down serial killers. The book opens with our hero in upstate New York, residing in a picturesque house, planted in a picturesque setting. Dave's found himself a new time consuming and rather bizarre artistic hobby, which is a good thing, because his marriage is one spousal argument away from flat-lining.

Out of the blue Dave is contacted by a college buddy, who is now a life coach/spiritu
Maja (The Nocturnal Library)
I’ve been successfully cured of my addiction to mysteries and thrillers year ago, but when Audible dangled this lovely carrot right in front of my nose in the form of their Audible daily deal, I simply couldn’t resist. John Verdon has been receiving a lot of praise from those far more familiar with the genre so of course I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Think of a Number starts off very strongly, with a seemingly unsolvable puzzle in front of our retired detective. Dave Gurney has bee
Sandra Stiles
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult, thriller
This book took me longer to read than most books. The reason? I kept trying to figure out the clues. I am obviously not very good at that. Dave Gurney is a retired detectivce. He has retired and is now spending time with his wife. Unfortunately after suggesting he take an art class with her, his wife is not happy with the path that class has taken. First of all her husband is creating art out of the mug shots of serial killers he put away. Second of all she can tell that the instructor has the h ...more
Apr 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-detective
Think of a number between 1 and 1,000: Go on, first one that enters your head.


So John Verdon arrives on the scene with a cliche-ridden brick of a book about a genius detective whose obsessive behaviour is damaging his marriage and so he has retired from the NYPD to upstate NY where everything will be much better...if he doesn't get dragged into solving a mystery for an old college mate who is being sent freaky hand-written messages by a scary person who seems to know more about the recipient t
Gloria ~ mzglorybe
All I can say is WOW! Hard to believe this is a debut novel. How did he ever dream this up? I was drawn in at the get-go and found it hard to put down. The writing is so "experienced" and professional, the prose nuanced to perfection, and the puzzle such a challenge. The setting on the east coast was vividly outlined, the plot unique and captivating. In my humble opinion it deserves the highest rating. I don't think I've ever given a first-novel a 5-star rating, but here you go, John Verdon. I'm ...more
Tim Warner
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Having just finished this book, I might rate it far too highly. But it is an incredible read on many levels. I kept thinking that if John Updike wrote a thriller, well, this would be it. It isn't imitative of Updike, but it carries the weight or maybe better said, the angst of developed characters dealing with interior landscapes rarely explored in this genre.

The book is not what I would call a page turner, until towards the end. In fact, there is a plodding sense to the pacing of the story whic
Jul 24, 2010 rated it did not like it
I hate to say a book was bad, but this book was bad. The characters were almost interesting, if they hadn't been so archetypal. The plot started off interesting (though it got less so as it moved toward the climax of the story line). The writing - bad. I felt like the author had a list of nonverbal descriptions, analogies, and big words that he was trying to find a place for and would therefore shove them into the thoughts or dialogue of characters that would not have used those words. The descr ...more
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book!!! Very exciting!!!
Larry Bassett
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Larry by: Jeanette
Shelves: mystery
Un-fucking-believable but a great story with adrenaline and thought provocation too.

This is the first book in what is, at this time, a four book series about the retired star police homicide detective Dave Gurney who still wants to keep his thumb in the pudding. He has moved from NYC to rural upstate NY, has a perceptive wife and the hint of some life trauma, an “accident” that was the death of their four year old son. This author was suggested to me by a new GR friend so is a trial run for me.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! OMG! Glad I found this author! I want him to write 100 more Dave Gurney novels!

Yeah, that's my testimonial. Dave Gurney, retired homicide detective, gets asked by an old, and sort of forgettable college friend to look into a series of death threats he's been getting. The threats are odd, quirky, creepy; some are written as poems; others are delivered in a high-pitched, sort of unisex voice over the phone. This starts early in the book and adds a delicious element right on top
We should not treat a crime book as a regular literature book. Since the author does not emphasize on the writing (it has to be kept simple so it won't make the reader get tired) but on the characters and plot. But .. This was bad. I could not understand at which part the author was counting on in order to feel that this was a good crime book.

Since there's no room for improvement concerning the writing style the author should try and make the characters interesting. At least the main character
Started really well, but I figured out the killer maybe halfway through, which kind of made the ending a bit boring.
Jan 19, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: mystery and crime lovers
Note: SPOILERS!! Don't read if you want to be surprised by who the killer is!!

I borrowed Think of a Number from my grandmother to read and I finished it fairly quickly. I'm not usually a big fan of mystery novels but this one drew me in with the interesting number trick. The whole time I was reading the book, I just wanted to know how the killer had done it! How could he predict what number out of a thousand a person would think of?? It drove me nuts enough to keep reading until I found out. By
Debbie Oxier
Jun 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The blurb pretty much says it all so I won't go into a lot of detail. I'll just say this is one of the best thrillers I've read this year. It was fast paced and kept me turning the pages. An unusual premise, think of a Number and I know all your secrets. It's obvious from the bodies piling up that police have a serial on their hands. The killer's creepy poems and clues he leaves at each crime scene had the hairs standing up on the back of my neck a few times.

Dave Gurney, a former detective now r
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-reads, mystery
You have the keys to the Ferrari in your hand. As you step in and shut the door behind you your eyes sweep over the gauges. You place the key in the ignition. Wait for it, wait for it. You turn the ignition to the on position. The engine starts up with a throaty growl. You feather the gas. VROOM! VROOM! With sweaty palms and trembling hands you grab the shift knob and start working through the gears. Your eyes glance at the speedometer as the world starts to spin past your windshield. 60. 90. 12 ...more
Oct 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is hard to believe that this is a debut author. Mr. Verdon with all the twists and turns he takes the reader on, will keep you on the edge of your seat. To tackle the age old premise of a serial killer, who thinks he's smarter than the local police sounds all too familiar. But, this one is an inventive take on how our bad guy thinks his puzzles will not be solved. Our hero Dave Gurney, you can not help but like. It's like he was put on this earth to solve these type of puzzles. And, the exc ...more
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Marmara: Aklından Bir Sayı Tut 5 57 Oct 28, 2015 09:05AM  
Mystery/Thriller ...: Think of a Number Initial Comments no spoilers 22 49 Apr 10, 2015 04:57AM  
goddamn jhon verdon 3 63 Sep 01, 2014 08:03AM  
Goodreads Librari...: 9780141048703 2 32 Apr 01, 2013 02:49PM  

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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.

Other books in the series

Dave Gurney (7 books)
  • Shut Your Eyes Tight (Dave Gurney, #2)
  • Let the Devil Sleep (Dave Gurney, #3)
  • Peter Pan Must Die (Dave Gurney, #4)
  • Wolf Lake (Dave Gurney, #5)
  • White River Burning (Dave Gurney #6)
  • On Harrow Hill

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