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Dave Gurney #1

Think of a Number

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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 builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.

In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.

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.

418 pages, Hardcover

First published July 6, 2010

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About the author

John Verdon

16 books1,614 followers
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.

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8,936 (28%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,783 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
July 26, 2019
”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 out of a 1000 possibilities? It is the first baffling aspect of this case. It is disconcerting to think that someone you don’t know would know you well enough to correctly guess the number you would pick.

Is it a guess?

Retired Detective Dave Gurney is approached by one of those friends that it takes him a while to remember how he knows this person. An acquaintance might be a better term to use, but when people need your help they tend to overstate the closeness of your relationship. Mark Mellery has a problem that he doesn’t feel comfortable involving the “bumbling” police about, given his mild celebrity and his clinic business for helping discretion conscious, miserable, wealthy people. We can’t have the rich people experiencing any level of inconvenience. Owning beach houses and red Porsches doesn’t seem to make people any happier than those people who own single wide trailers and Chevy pickups with rusted fenders.

He calls Gurney.

An interesting aspect of this book is the decided distrust of law enforcement that crops up at several points in the novel. Even Gurney experiences a harassment situation with an officer that set my teeth on edge because it reminded me of a recent encounter of my own with law enforcement overreach. Gurney pulls out his retired police officer card and is able to diffuse the situation quickly, but he could tell the officer was disappointed he would not be able to push him around. Bad apples spoil a barrel, which is unfortunate because there are terrific police officers who truly are working to serve and protect.

Serve and protect, not harass and bully.

What begins as a puzzle soon becomes deadly. What do these obtuse poems being sent to Mellery really mean? The poet is playing a game. According to Gurney’s wife Madeleine, he has a secondary agenda beyond what is beginning to look like a revenge obsession.”He wants to prove that you’re a pack of idiots”

The plot is fascinating and had me pondering all the probabilities while I was away from the book, doing those other things that always keep us from our reading. What really makes the book go beyond just a thriller is the relationship between Dave and Madeleine. They experienced a terrible tragedy together, and now they are trying to adapt to his retirement. It is evident that Madeleine is more ready for him to be retired than he is. ”His mind worked exceptionally well in a certain way, and the greatest satisfactions in his life had come from applying that intellectual gift. He had a supremely logical brain and a finely tuned antenna for discrepancy. These qualities made him an outstanding detective.”

Madeleine is not happy that he has taken on this case. Her rebukes are mild, yet effective. Gurney loves working on cases. He is proud of all the murderers he has put behind bars over the years and is considered a legend by many in his profession. I love the fact that he appreciates Madeleine’s intelligence, and as he works through aspects of this investigation, he frequently asks for her advice.

Sometimes, when people have been married a long time and have collected some heavy baggage along the way, they need to look for and remember those things they liked about that person before life started inflicting wounds. ”He studied her face. He was at a loss for words to capture what he saw. It was as if all the radiance of the snow-covered landscape were reflected in her expression and the radiance of her expression was reflected in the landscape.”

She wants him away from all that death and mayhem, but he never feels more alive than when he is hunting for a killer. ”He generally viewed a homicide as a puzzle to be solved, a murderer as an opponent to be outmaneuvered. He studied the facts, figured the angles, tripped the snares, and delivered his quarry into the maw of the justice system.” He is very good at seeing the evidence instead of the horror.

The plot is fascinating. John Verdon deftly leads us from puzzlement to amazement as the missing pieces are found to form a picture of true insanity. The grand finale provides one revelation after another as we discover the darkness behind the poetry. There are many moments of self-discovery for several of the characters as the truth has them questioning what they know about themselves. Gurney is especially self-reflective as he tries to fathom who he is supposed to be now. This wrestling with inner fears adds a layer of depth to the plot that makes this thriller more literature than thriller. Highly recommended!

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Profile Image for PirateSteve.
90 reviews328 followers
January 15, 2021
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 this case were amusing to think about and solve along with our super detective.
Think of a Number? ... I'm thinking a solid 4.
Profile Image for Andrei Bădică.
364 reviews153 followers
July 22, 2018
Cel mai lung roman polițist pe care l-am citit până acum.

"Nu se putea lăsa dus de nas cu de-astea. Din câte știa el, când un om îți dă două motive pentru hotărârea luată, e foarte probabil să mai existe un al treilea motiv - cel real- pe care să nu ți-l fi spus."
"Îi reveniră în minte poveștile pe care i le citise tatăl lui pe când avea cinci-șase ani și care pentru el erau mai vii decât orice i se întâmpla în viața adevărată - povești despre aventurieri, cabane în sălbăticie, cărări prin pădure, indieni buni și vreascuri trosnind - imagini at��t de concrete, atât de pline de detalii."
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,424 reviews12.7k followers
July 15, 2012
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-summer day in a hilltop garden overlooking a rolling panorama of crimson autumn woods and emerald pastures under a cobalt sky was not a particularly onerous assignment." p.9.

Could he cram in any more cliched modifiers into that overlong and breathless sentence? But it was the exposition that did it for me. After 10 pages of the main character feuding with his wife over nothing, he meets an old friend he hasn't seen in a while:

"Davey Gurney! Back at Fordham they used to say you looked like Robert Redford in All the President's Men. Still do - haven't changed a bit! If I didn't know you were forty-seven like me, I'd say you were thirty!". p.20.

Ouch! Anyone else stung by the information dump made by this character? So now we know the main character's age and physical description, all clumsily spilled out by a character in dialogue that doesn't even sound vaguely real.

Factor in the cheesy chapter headings "Trouble in Paradise" and "I know you so well I know what you're thinking" and I was finished with this tripe.

Try something else, the writing in this book is barely above high school standard and about as sophisticated as a happy meal.
Profile Image for Magdalen.
178 reviews91 followers
March 6, 2017
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 if you were paying close attention. And I hate it when I am able to figure out who the killer is and by no means am I trying to sound cocky. I love to be surprised but it didn't happen this time.
Last but not least, the action. The first half of the book took the longer to read because it was flat. The second part I finished it in a day but when the story started to unfold I got bored again. If a book doesn't make your blood run cold and keep you at the edge of the seat how on earth can you enjoy it to the fullest?
The characters were interesting though.

To sum up, if you are looking for a fine book to pass your time pick it up. If you demand more than that then this book is not for you.
Profile Image for Arah-Lynda.
337 reviews520 followers
January 25, 2014

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 cleanly eloquent, very intelligent and no doubt, highly quotable with a full cast of beautifully crafted, well imagined and colourfully scripted characters that are both unique and memorable. Nothing disappoints, even the ending is eerily apt.
"How many bright angels
can dance on a pin?
How many hopes drown in
a bottle of gin?"

Get ready you are going to love this one!

Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,900 followers
March 11, 2012
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 the point, the poet instructs Mellery to pick a number up to 1000 and then open another, smaller, envelope that was sent along with the threatening lines. Mellery picks the number 658 and is stunned to open the second envelope and discover that his adversary has correctly predicted the choice. Mellery asks Gurney for advice, but when Gurney suggests that Mellery should bring in the police, Mellery refuses for fear that it would cause complications in his professional life.

Despite his wife's misgivings, Gurney agrees to help his friend and thus goes to work with one if not both hands tied behind his back. To say any more would be to give too much away, but what follows is an excellent suspense novel that rises far above the average thriller, in which Dave Gurney matches wits with an extremely interesting and intelligent villain who has a very deep agenda.

A crucial subplot involves the relationship between Dave and Madeleine and the end result is a gripping story with very well-drawn and sympathetic characters. Think of a Number is an excellent debut novel that should appeal to anyone who enjoys a compelling, well-written story. I can hardly wait to read John Verdon's second book.
Profile Image for Γιώργος Δάμτσιος.
Author 29 books238 followers
November 13, 2017
4 αστεράκια σε γενικές γραμμές, αλλά παίρνει και ένα μπόνους 5ο επειδή τελικά κατάφερε το σημα��τικότερο, να με αναγκάσει να το διαβάσω σε δύο μέρες!
Μου άρεσε πολύ η ιδέα με το 658, καθώς και η επίλυσή του. Η πανέξυπνη πλοκή του θαρρώ ότι είναι έτσι κι αλλιώς το δυνατό του σημείο.
Ενδιαφέρων ��αι ο βασικός ήρωας, ενώ οι υπόλοιποι ενίοτε παραήταν 'κάτι το εντελώς διακριτό' ώρες ώρες, με αποτέλεσμα να μην ενθουσιαστώ τρομερά μαζί τους.
Στο σύνολό του λοιπόν, ήταν ένα βιβλίο που όλο έλεγα ότι είναι του 7/10, αλλά όλο και συνέχιζα και συνέχιζα να διαβάζω, με αποτέλεσμα τελικά να το βάλω 9/10.
Profile Image for Aitor Castrillo.
Author 1 book737 followers
January 25, 2019
La primera novela de Verdon me atrapó desde su premisa argumental y ya no me soltó hasta la última página. Un thriller muy recomendable y un personaje, el detective Gurney, que me dejó con ganas de leer más casos. El siguiente, No abras los ojos, me gustó incluso un poco más que este.
Profile Image for Dee Dee Walker.
277 reviews2 followers
February 18, 2012
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 correct! Interesting, right???? Throughout the book there are more little riddles. The psycopath seems to be brilliant and stumps the police and even the impressive retired detective Gurney. Here is another flaw. Impressive detective Gurney didn't seem all of that impressive to me. In fact, I thought he was quite obtuse. He didn't seem to have any answers until the end.( Even then he didn't have all of the answers.) Dispite this little flaw, I did enjoy the first half of the book. All of the mysteries were fasinating and kept me highly engaged. I pressed on because I could not wait to find how all of the mysteries and questions that were building on one another were going to culmimate into this profound finally. Then it happened. The big let down. The explination of the mysterious disapering footprints in the snow. I found myself thinking "Am I really supposed to buy this? The author couldn't think of anything better than this?" From this point I was constantly disapointed. The explinations of the mysteries seemed very implausible and basic. There was no shocking suprise. No twists or turns. I would have loved for this author to have been able to come up with something that didn't think of. Something a little more unique. Overall, my biggest complaint is that I was not able to buy into the explinations the author gave. Oh yeah, did I mention that detective Gurney is not a likable character? He is flat and emotionaly unavailible to his family or the reader. I really didn't care what happened to him. The only character in the book that showed any promise was Gurney's wife and she is not present enough. She also seems to be much smarter that Gurney. Maybe she should be the brilliant detective....
Profile Image for Giannis.
110 reviews21 followers
February 25, 2018
Η ιστορία ήταν πολύ καλά δομημένη και δεν σταματούσε να με εκπλήσσει καθώς προσπαθούσα να βρω τους λόγους και τα στοιχεία των φόνων. Έκανε ελάχιστες "κοιλιές" ενώ από την μέση και μετά "απογειώθηκε"! Το ότι είχα υποψιαστεί τον κακό με ξένισε λίγο, αλλά γενικά το ευχαριστήθηκα πολύ. Πάμε στο επόμενο...
Profile Image for Ismini.
31 reviews19 followers
September 9, 2018

...κι αυτό μόνο και μόνο γιατί αυτή η υπόθεση με τον δολοφόνο που μυστηριωδώς ξέρει τον αριθμό που σκέφτεσαι σε βάζει στο τριπάκι. Ωραία σκέψη, ωραίο εύρημα για αστυνομικό βιβλίο. Αλλά μέχρι εκεί.

1ον) Κουραστική και εξόφθαλμη η χωρίς νόημα προσπάθεια του συγγραφέα να "ανεβάσει επίπεδο" το βιβλίο του γράφοντας για την ψυχοσύνθεση και τα γεγονότα που σημάδεψαν τον πρωταγωνιστή. Καταντά ολίγον μελό. Δεν χρειαζόταν.

2ον) Οι φόνοι που λαμβάνουν χώρα, και ειδικά ο πρώτος βρίθει στοιχείων τα οποία δεν αξιοποιούνται ποτέ στη συνέχεια του βιβλίου, δεν έχουν κανένα τελολογικό λόγο ύπαρξης, ούτε για να εξελιχθεί η πλοκή ούτε για να συμβολίσουν κάτι. Υπάρχουν μόνο για να υπάρχουν, για να πιάνουν χώρο, για να γράφονται περισσότερες σελίδες χωρίς καμία ουσία. Κοινώς, είναι άσχετα με το οτιδήποτε αφορά το βιβλίο.

3ον) Στο τέλος ο συγγραφέας το παρακάνει. Η αληθοφάνεια χάνεται παντελώς, οι χαρακτήρες πια γίνονται τσαλακωμένες καρικατούρες. Σαν να βλέπω κακογυρισμένη ταινία τρόμου. Μου προξένησε γέλιο, χωρίς να είναι αυτός ο σκοπός του.

Ωστόσο μου κράτησε το ενδιαφέρον, το διάβασα γρήγορα και ως το τέλος. Νομίζω πως γι' αυτό είμαι και τόσο επιεικής με τη βαθμολογία που του δίνω.
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
November 17, 2018
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 mate telling Dave that he is getting these really weird ominous poems sent to him. The friend is in a real state, begging Dave to help him. With some reluctance Dave agrees to look into things. Little did Dave know that this was about to consume every waking and sleeping moment of his life.

Dave tries to convince his friend to go to the police but to no avail. When Dave hears that his friend been killed, with his head almost severed from his body, Dave goes to the police to explain his involvement in the case.
When the DA discovers that Gave Gurney is THE Dave Gurney he asks Dave to come on board as a special investigator for the District Attorney.
The friend’s death whilst gruesome is also intriguing because of the amount of impossible evidence, lots of evidence, but no clues what so ever.

This is where your grey matter comes into play. How does Dave make the implausible plausible?

As I write this I realise that Dave is really a modern day Sherlock Holmes.

As the body count mounts so does the tension but the tension reaches breaking point when Dave learns he is to be the killers’ next victim.

As I said earlier, this is a cut above your average thriller.

Highly recommended
5/5 stars.
Profile Image for Χρύσα Βασιλείου.
Author 5 books145 followers
February 6, 2017
Πάντα αφιερώνω λίγη παραπάνω προσοχή σε ένα βιβλίο όταν αυτό αποτελεί το ντεμπούτο του συγγραφέα. Στην περίπτωση του Verdon, αυτό ήταν το "Σκέψου έναν αριθμό".

Ο συγγραφέας έχει σκεφτεί μια αρκετά ενδιαφέρουσα πλοκή,μια ιστορία που κρατάει σε γενικές γραμμές το ενδιαφέρον του αναγνώστη. Βέβαια ορισμένα σημεία της είναι κάπως άτονα,αδύναμα,κι απλά διαβάζεις για να προχωρήσεις τις αράδες χωρίς να πολυενδιαφέρεσαι για το τι παίζεται στη συγκεκριμένη σκηνή. Ειδικά σε κάτι εσωτερικές σκέψεις του Ντέιβ που καταλήγουν σε μακροσκελείς παραγράφους. Παρόλο που περίμενα την αποκάλυψη του δολοφόνου,βέβαια,δεν μπορώ να πω πως έμεινα και ξάγρυπνη από την αναμονή. Συγκεκριμένα,το βιβλίο το διάβασα σε ηλεκτρονική μορφή και δεν αγωνιούσα κιόλας να πάρω το τάμπλετ στα χέρια μου. Σε άλλες περιπτώσεις,με άλλα βιβλία,τα κουβαλάω μαζί μου είτε έντυπα είτε ηλεκτρονικά παντού - τόσο πολύ με καίει να μάθω τι θα γίνει παρακάτω. :Ρ

Αυτό που με κέρδισε στο βιβλίο είναι ο χαρακτήρας του κεντρικού ήρωα,του Ντέιβ Γκάρνεϊ. Είναι ένας άνθρωπος που απέχει μακράν από το μοντέλο του υπερήρωα ντετέκτιβ. Έχει τα ελαττώματά του,τα μειονεκτήματά του,τους φόβους και τις ανησυχίες,τα πάθη του. Έχει καταφέρει πολλές νίκες όσο ήταν εν υπηρεσία αλλά όχι χωρίς να πληρώσει τίμημα,και παρά τη φήμη του τα μυαλά του δεν έχουν πάρει καθόλου αέρα. Ακόμα και στα σημεία εκείνα που μου φάνηκε πως η πλοκή έκανε μια μικρή κοιλιά,ακόμα κι αν τα συγκεκριμένα σημεία αφορούσαν σκέψεις δικές του,ο ίδιος ο ήρωας δεν με κούρασε καθόλου. Ίσα ίσα,τον κατασυμπάθησα κι αυτό μέτρησε και στα αστεράκια μου.

Προχωράω ντουγρού στο επόμενο. Επίσης σε ηλεκτρονική μορφή,και απ' ότι είδα επίσης μεγάλο. Ελπίζω να μην είναι περισσότερο κουραστικό. Θα δείξει! :)
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,016 reviews551 followers
August 7, 2019
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 remember, telling of a strange series of notes he’s received. It looks like Dave’s detective skills might be once more in demand. 

The initial note asked it’s recipient to think of a number between 1 and 1000 and then, in a separate envelope, correctly predicted the number. Subsequent notes comprised taunts of the ‘I know everything about you’ nature and personal threats. Dave agrees to help his friend but then events escalate and suddenly Dave is embroiled in a murder case. And it soon becomes clear that other people are getting similar messages.

This is a quirky case, written in a style that reminded me somewhat of Jeffery Deaver. The messages are usually in the form of cryptic poems and deciphering the coded meaning is proving challenging. But what of the trick with the numbers, how was that done? I did have some doubts that the police could and should have been involved earlier but this and other potential anomalies are dealt with reasonably well by the author, and in Gurney the author has developed a highly logical, if slightly dour, front man.

Its an entertaining mystery and I enjoyed the way Verdon strung it all together. I have to say that I was gripped all the way through and I’ve already stumped up for a second book featuring the retired detective.
Profile Image for Artemis Slipknot.
64 reviews16 followers
March 26, 2016
Πολύ ωραίο, έξυπνο και ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο. Σε κρατάει σε εγρήγορση απο την αρχή μέχρι το τέλος.Το διάβασα μέσα σε δύο μέρες γιατί ήθελα να καταλάβω τι έχει γίνει. Τον δολοφόνο δεν τον υποψιάστηκα καθόλου!!
Profile Image for Rohit Enghakat.
230 reviews58 followers
February 1, 2019
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 hunt down the serial killer.

There are two main characters, Dave and Madeleine, his second wife. Dave's character is that of a troubled, guilt-ridden, workaholic cop who can't entirely get over the break-up of his first marriage and death of his first son. Madeleine's character is not fully developed, although interestingly, she helps solve the crime in a major way.

The book is fast paced and keeps one on tenter-hooks throughout although the setting feels gloomy in places.
Profile Image for Retired Reader.
123 reviews47 followers
September 5, 2017
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 it makes sense. Detective Dave Gurney is brilliant but has his own demons in hiding, and they make an appearance in this case. I will investigate other books by this author! I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was rather bland, but I won't hold that against the author. :)
Profile Image for Maria Thomarey.
497 reviews52 followers
July 24, 2016
2,5 δεν μπορω να καταλάβω γιατι αυτος ο συγγραφές αρέσει στον κοσμο . Ειναι σα να διαβάζει Φρανζεν με αστυνομική πλοκή. Και ναι δε μου αρεσε . Βαρέθηκα . Πολλες επαναλήψεις ( λάμψη αλερτ) , και για όποιον εχει διαβασει Ελρου πχ η ίντριγκα σε λεει πολλα. Το βασικό μου προβλημα ηταν οτι βρήκα το δολοφόνο με το που έσκασε μύτη . Και ξενέρωσα τη ζωη μου
Profile Image for Georgia.
940 reviews46 followers
November 22, 2017
Δείτε επίσης και στο Chill and read

Το πρώτο βιβλίο του Verdon έχει γρίφους, μυστήριο και έναν προβληματικό ντετέκτιβ. Σαν να λέμε “η συνταγή της επιτυχίας”!

“Σκέψου έναν αριθμό. Έναν οποιονδήποτε. Τώρα δες πόσο καλά γνωρίζω όλα σου τα μυστικά.” Αυτές ήταν οι τελευταίες αράδες από το γράμμα που έλαβε ο Μαρκ και τον έκανε να ανησυχήσει. Αυτό και μια σειρά από στιχάκια που τον έκαναν να ανατριχιάζει ήταν η αιτία να ζητήσει βοήθεια από τον παλιό του συμμαθητή και διάσημο ντετέκτιβ, Ντέιβ Γκάρνεϊ.

Ο Ντέιβ, μετά από πολλές επιτυχημένες συλλήψεις κατά συρροή δολοφόνων, έχει πια βγει στη σύνταξη. Είναι πλέον 47 χρονών και προσπαθεί να προσαρμοστεί σε μια πιο ήρεμη ζωή. Δεν είναι απλό για ένα μυαλό σαν το δικό του. Όταν λοιπόν δέχεται την έκκληση του παλιού του φίλου για βοήθεια, δεν μπορεί παρά να προσπαθήσει να λύση ένα ακόμη μυστήριο. Τα πράγματα περιπλέκουν όταν ο Μαρκ βρίσκεται νεκρός και ακόμη περισσότερο, όταν τον ακολουθούν στο θάνατο άλλα δύο άτομα.

Ο ήρωας του Verdon είναι ένας πολύ επιτυχημένος ντετέκτιβ, που μετά από πολλά χρόνια υπηρεσίας, κατά τα οποία θυσίασε πολύ περισσότερα από τον χρόνο του αποφάσισε να βγει στη σύνταξη. Δεν είναι και τόσο ξεκάθαρο ότι την απόφαση την πήρε με πολύ σιγουριά, καθώς φαίνεται ότι δυσκολεύεται πολύ να προσαρμοστεί σε μια απλή ζωή κοντά στη φύση. Κάπως έτσι ο συγγραφέας ξεκινάει να μας δείξει ότι πρόκειται για ένα μυαλό που έχει φτιαχτεί για να λύνει γρίφους και αινίγματα και ζητά να είναι πάντα απασχολημένο. Η εξυπνάδα του ήρωα έρχεται σε αντιδιαστολή με το συναισθηματικό του κόσμο. Έχει μια επίσης έξυπνη αλλά και πολύ υπομονετική σύζυγο που τον στηρίζει ακόμα κι όταν η ίδια δεν θέλει, δεν συμφωνεί με αυτό που κάνει. Ξέρει όμως πως λειτουργεί το μυαλό του και προσπαθεί να καταλάβει τα συναισθήματά του.

Οι γρίφοι και το μυστήριο πίσω από τους αριθμούς, που δίνουν και τον τίτλο του βιβλίου, είναι μια πολύ έξυπνη και πρωτότυπη ιδέα. Φαίνεται ο τρόπος προσέγγισης του γρίφου από τον ήρωα και πως καταλήγει να τον λύσει κολλώντας τα κομμάτια του παζλ. Ωραία πλοκή, αρκετά έξυπνη, δίνει στοιχεία στον αναγνώστη να βρει το δολοφόνο, αρκεί να κρατάει τα μάτια του ανοιχτά. Το μόνο που χρειάζεται κάποιος είναι να κολλήσει τα κομμάτια που αφήνει ο συγγραφέας εδώ κι εκεί, για να φτάσει αργά η γρήγορα στο αποτέλεσμα που έφτασε και ο ήρωας.

Η δράση δεν είναι σταθερή σε όλη τη διάρκεια του βιβλίου, καθώς ο συγγραφέας προσπαθεί να μας δώσει να καταλάβουμε την ψυχοσύνθεση του ήρωα, ποιος είναι, ποιοι είναι οι φόβοι του, οι αδυναμίες του, αυτά που θα ήθελε να ξεχάσει και αυτά που μπορεί να τον επηρεάσουν. Καθώς είναι το πρώτο βιβλίο όπου μας συστήνεται ο ήρωας, είναι λογικό και αναμενόμενο να υπάρχουν πολλά στοιχεία μέσα που θα σκιαγραφούν το χαρακτήρα του. Μένει μόνο να δούμε πως εξελίσσεται αυτή η ισορροπία ανάμεσα στο συγγραφέα και στη δράση στα επόμενα βιβλία της σειράς!
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
485 reviews1,326 followers
December 12, 2016
El primer libro de mi saga policíaca favorita. No es el mejor de la serie, en mi opinión. No obstante, es una muy buena novela, que me gustó mucho. Me encantó el tinte psicológico que le dotó a esta historia el autor.
Sé todo lo que piensas,
sé cuándo parpadeas,
sé dónde has estado,
sé adónde irán tus pasos.
Vamos a vernos solos,
señor 658.
Es un caso que no tiene ni pies ni cabeza, desborda la razón y la coherencia. Cuanto más investiga Gurney, más complejo se torna todo el asunto. El detective se hunde en un bucle del sinsentido que lo deja completamente impotente a encontrar un poco de luz que lo guíe a dilucidar el enigma. Ese es el ingrediente principal de los libros de Verdon: una incoherencia completamente disparatada.

Al final todo se explica. No quedan dudas. En parte, tengo que agregar, el asesino me lo esperaba, sin embargo otras cosas no.
Profile Image for Filipa.
366 reviews70 followers
October 11, 2013
M-A-R-A-V-I-L-H-O-S-O!! Um dos policiais mais bem conseguidos que li até hoje. Recomenda-se vivamente para quem gosta (adoraaaa, como eu) este género e mesmo para quem não é muito fã do género.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,614 reviews12.8k followers
July 28, 2011
A sensational debut novel. It left my mind in knots and me uttering "WTF" on a regular basis.
Profile Image for Dionisis Karachalios.
122 reviews14 followers
August 6, 2018

Το βιβλίο έχει ωραία δομή,και η ιστορία ξεκινάει πολύ όμορφα,ευχάριστα και στη συνέχεια δυναμικά,αφήνοντας τη φαντασία του αναγνώστη να τρέξει.Ο ρυθμός της αφήγησης ρέει εύκολα και αν το αρχίσετε πολύ πιθανόν και να το τελειώσετε σχετικά γρήγορα,καθώς θα θέλετε να δείτε τη συνέχεια,μια συνέχεια από παράξενα ποιηματάκια,στοιχάκια,και μια σειρά από φόνους,μηνύματα και γρίφους που οδηγούν στην αναζήτηση του δολοφόνου.

Έμενα μου άρεσε με καθήλωσε αν και το βιβλίο δεν μας παρουσιάζει πολλούς υπόπτους(να το κάνει λίγο πιο ενδιαφέρον) η προοπτική εξέλιξη της ιστορίας αυτής είχε ως αποτέλεσμα από κάποια στιγμή προς τη μέση και μετά να υποψιαστείς τον δολοφόνο"εντέλει να είναι εφικτή και η υποψία σου,παράλληλα συμπαθείς το κεντρικό ήρωα,θαυμάζεις τη δυναμική του και την αναλυτική λογική του.

Για κάποιον-α όμως που δεν είναι συνηθισμένος-η σε αστυνομικά μυθιστόρηματα ίσως εκπλαγεί με την αποκάλυψη στο τέλος.
Profile Image for GreekReaders.
111 reviews19 followers
November 22, 2016
Λοιπόν, ομολογώ ότι είχα μεγάλες προσδοκίες για το συγκεκριμένο βιβλίο, καθώς η ιδέα είναι πρωτότυπη και άκρως ενδιαφέρουσα. Παρόλα αυτά, δεν είχε την ανάλογη εξέλιξη, δε χρησιμοποιήθηκε σωστά από το συγγραφέα, οπότε αρκετά γρήγορα έχασε αυτή την αγωνία και το μυστήριο, χωρίς αυτό να σημαίνει ότι προδίδεται ο δολοφόνος νωρίς! Δράση - Διάλογοι σημειώσατε 2, πράγμα που προσέδωσε στο όλο εγχείρημα μια "κοιλιά", πέρα από το τέλος, που ως είθισται, έφτασε σε μια κορύφωση, πριν τη λύση του μυστηρίου.

Ευκολοδιάβαστο, απλά καλό όμως, τίποτα παραπάνω..

Αν θα το ξαναδιάβαζα; Όχι.
Αν θα διαβάσω άλλο του συγκεκριμένου συγγραφέα; Θα το σκεφτώ.

Profile Image for Νόρα.
256 reviews17 followers
September 11, 2015
Καλή προσπάθεια του John Verdon να γράψει κάτι διαφορετικό.Συμπαθητικό αλλά δεν είναι από τα βιβλία που με ξετρέλαναν.Καλή ιστορία,μυστήριο,αγωνία με έξυπνους γρίφους που κρατάνε τον αναγνώστη σε εγρήγορση,αλλά λίγο κουραστικό σε ορισμένα σημεία.Ήταν λίγο περισσότερο μακρόσυρτο από ότι θα έπρεπε.Δεν ήταν τόσο καλό όσο το περίμενα.Το τέλος είναι αναμενόμενο.
Profile Image for Vaso.
1,056 reviews142 followers
May 19, 2016
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!!!
Profile Image for Joe.
325 reviews74 followers
July 31, 2022
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/spiritual guru, and who has a perplexing and potentially dangerous problem. So predictably even though he is "out of the game", hasn't heard from his "buddy" in years and much to the consternation of Mrs. Gurney, Dave begins investigating. This set-up taking approximately 100 pages to unfold, when 20 pages or less would have sufficed - this bloat in the narrative a problem throughout the book.

The case/puzzle Dave is tasked to solve is fairly ingenious. (So as not to spoil the reading, the mystery involves both a trick with numbers and omniscient anonymous letters/ poems sent to the victims.) And since Gurney is a serial killer hunter extraordinaire - murders soon become regular events.

Our hero teams up with a politically/publicity driven DA, a grizzled, jaded, profane - and at times very funny - homicide cop he's worked with before, and an empty suit of a lieutenant - all character "types" we've met before - but still engaging enough. (There's also a young Bronx cop, a highly intelligent researcher, and a forensic psychologist, "specializing" in serial killers - the author covering all bases here.)

The good news is that when Dave is on the job, and the hunt, the pages almost turn themselves. Unfortunately when the story-line wanders or "explains" itself - and it does often - the narrative comes to a screeching halt. For instance Dave spends a lot of time inside his head, becoming preoccupied and thus “distant" - which the reader is "told" repeatedly.

Dave is also "logical" - so much so that he's been told he could have been a professor of logic. The reader doesn't glean this character trait from his actions but is also "told" this - ironically just several paragraphs after Dave labels the above mentioned police lieutenant as "officious".

The most baffling sub-plot is the Gurney marriage. The fascinating aspect is that the author captures the tension and passive aggressiveness between Mr. and Mrs. Gurney fairly well - starting with the dread Dave feels each time he opens his own front door, anticipating another marital jiu-jitsu session. Unfortunately this soap opera is out of place, or at the very least monopolizes much too much time and space in this book. (A troubled domestic front is one thing, but expecting - even hoping for - Dr. Phil to appear and save the day is another.)

This book is labeled as a thriller and/or novel of suspense - it's not nor do I think it was intended to be. Think Of A Number is a police procedural with an intriguing mystery and is a decent debut - just much too long. I will pick up the next Dave Gurney adventure, i.e. my interest has been piqued, with the hope that the second installment will be more "focused".
Profile Image for Emir Ibañez.
Author 1 book636 followers
October 17, 2017
Guau. John Verdon es, sin duda, una voz distinta entre tantos escritores de thrillers en la actualidad.
Tiene un estilo muy particular. Su prosa roza lo poético y lo psicológico. Sus personajes son muy bien desarrollados, así sea un testigo innecesario para la trama no pasa como uno más.

Y, bueno, el pedazo de misterio que gira en torno al libro es fascinante y... desesperante.
Hace muchísimo tiempo que no me quedaba tan enganchado a un libro policial para saber quién diablos es el asesino y qué explicación hay para todo lo que está pasando. Porque, a ver, en serio, que un loco adivine lo que estás pensando es para alterarte a más no poder! Roza lo sobrenatural, pero no. Por suerte tenemos a un protagonista caracterizado por su racionalidad y su sentido de la lógica, que va desglosando uno a uno todos los interrogantes hasta llegar a una conclusión bastante... interesante. No diría impactante, porque no lo fue, es solo que una vez resuelto el enigma ya no es tan desesperante como lo era en un principio, pero vaya que me hizo transpirar toda las primeras 3/4 partes del libro.
Es una trama bastante original, con personajes interesantes y una prosa fascinante. Qué más necesitás. Es el sueño de todo amante de los thrillers de bolsillo - bueno, era la edición que yo tenía (?) -, un buen misterio que entretiene y asombra.
Es el primer libro de la serie que tiene como protagonista a Dave Gurney, y me han dicho que los casos se ponen más geniales a medida que avanzan los libros así que sí, seguiré enganchado a este autor que tiene mucho para ofrecer!

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Profile Image for Теодор Панов.
Author 4 books126 followers
September 10, 2020
Първата книга от поредицата, която прочетох още през 2017, беше петата по ред „Wolf Lake (Не заспивай)“ и още тогава ми хареса особената мистерия на случая, начина по който детектив Дейв Гърни разплита загадките и стилът на автора. Много приятен за четене.

В първата книга „Намисли си число“ открих всичко от това, което ми бе харесало в петата. Отново случаят е силно мистериозен и заплетен. Атмосферата и тук е мрачна, напрегната и зимна. Убиецът е дързък и безпощаден към набелязаните жертви. Заплашителните писма, предсказването на числото, което кара набелязаните да си намислят, включително и необяснимото изчезване на стъпките на убиеца в снега, изглеждат неразгадаеми.

Обаче детектив Гърни има наистина изключителна логическа мисъл. Силно ми харесва начинът, по който размишлява над уликите, анализира и достига до отговора.

С интерес ще прочета и следващите четири книги.
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