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Group Read Books - archive > Think of a Number Prologue Part 1-A chapters 1-8 spoilers welcome

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message 1: by Ann (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:58PM) (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments This is for the prologue and first half of Part One
Part one. Chapters 1 to 8, pages 5 to 56.
If the first to post could add a short summary it would be great! Spoilers welcome.


message 2: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Just a reminder that this topic is for discussion of Chapters 1-8 only.


message 3: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Jul 28, 2014 08:23AM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Prologue. A bedridden woman chides her son for leaving her alone while he goes out. He assures her there is nothing to worry about. "Everything will soon be the way it is supposed to be. She coquettishly asks him to come to bed. Ew.

Chapter 1 -- Cop Art

Retired cop Dave Gurney has found a new hobby -- he turns mug shots of criminals into art by using a computer program to accentuate facial features like eyes to give the image a clue to their personality. His wife Madeline is not thrilled with the hobby or the encouragement he receives from his female art teacher.

Chapter 2 -- A perfect victim

Madeline wants Dave to spend more time outside enjoying weather and their beautiful retirement home. Son calls but doesn't want Dave called to the phone. A former classmate wants to come see Dave.

Chapter 3 -- Trouble in paradise

Dave reviews the flattering letter he received from the classmate, Mark Mellery. Mellery seems to remember their friendship as being more significant than Dave does. Mark arrives.

Chapter 4 -- I know you so well I know what you're thinking

Mellery shows Dave a letter he's received in which he's invited to pick a number, and the writer will guess what it is. Mellery picks a number, opens the inner envelope on which a number is written, and lo and behold it's the number he picked... 568. The writers says if Mark wants to know how he knew the number he'd pick, Mark first has to send send him a check for his costs to locate him. Mark sent the check because he was dying to know. The writer responds with a creepy poem. Gurney thinks they will be able to figure this out.

Chapter 5 -- Unpleasant Possibilities

Dave thinks Mark is a phony (pretentious). Mark doesn't want police involved, they'll stir things up. He confesses a background involving the drowning of his wife followed by his descent into alcoholism. He doesn't know what he might have done during the alcoholic blackouts. Dave asks Mark to make lists of anyone he might have had a conflict with.


message 4: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Chapter 6 - For blood that’s as red as a painted rose.

Dave asks Madeline her opinion of Mark. “Full of himself and scared to death.” Mark calls; another letter came in the post.

Chapter 7 -- The black hole

Dave and Mark discuss the latest letter. Dave alludes to something in their past that they find it hard to talk about.. “the black hole.”

Chapter 8 -- A rock and a hard place

Dave spends the evening with another of his serial killer portraits -- Peter Possum Piggart, whose story is a twisted version of Oedipus Rex. Dave analyzes the letters and poems sent by the mysterious letter-writer and concludes that the writer knows something Mark did for which he should be punished. Dave talks over the case with Madeline. She draws an analogy between the name of the writer -- X. Arybdis -- and XMas -- with X standing for Christ, or Ch for short. Charybdis is one of two demons of destruction in mythology -- a whirlpool.


message 5: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Jul 28, 2014 08:28AM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments I am caught up in this intriguing mystery. What did Mark do that drew the letterwriter's creepy interest? How did he know what number Mark was going to pick? I thought maybe there was a number written on the letter or envelope somewhere, but Dave ruled that out. Maybe some kind of hypnotic suggestion Mark doesn't remember? I don't have a clue but I can't wait to find out.

I keep wondering about the connection between Dave and what looks like a troubled marriage, his serial killer art, and Mark and his march toward what will surely be some kind of catastrophe. I keep thinking of Shutter Island, and if it weren't for the fact that this appears to be number 1 in a series featuring Dave Gurney, I'd be really worried about his sanity, LOL.


message 6: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Jul 28, 2014 08:31AM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Re: Dave's serial killer art. I was mildly distracted by the idea that Dave could make use of the police photos of the criminals. Aren't they the property of the police? How is it legal for him to access them, alter them, and present them for public display and possible sale? Maybe they aren't police photos, I'll have to go back and see what exactly we are told about the source of these photos.


message 7: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments Carol: I think the photos that Dave is editing for his art are the actual mug shots of the criminals which would seem to belong to the police dept and not be in public domain... . It does seem like he is either violating the rights of the criminals (I know, I know) or might be using police property improperly. and then again, can't you search on the Internet for a Most Wanted list and see mug shots, perhaps they are public domain after all.


message 8: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments I am fairly caught up by the story too Carol. I like the descriptions of the setting and what people are doing, always good for a book I listen to on audio - I especially like when the scenes outdoors are painted in such a way that you can see the colors and feel the breezes; however the descriptions and various threads about Dave Gurney seem to be trying just a tick too hard. Not in a bad way, just a little distracting. I find myself saying, oops here it goes again.


message 9: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments The set-up of Mark's issue with the numbers and the thinly veiled threats is pretty strong; we understand early on that Mark is playing with fire and risking a lot by not going to the police. Most of us have learned to take our medicine and not try to avoid paying the piper when it is time. It seems that the letter-writer isn't going to be satisfied until Mark suffers greatly for whatever he has done, and even though scared, Mark is having nothing to do with the police. Not a smart move.


message 10: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Ann, can you say a bit more about this? Not sure what you mean.

Ann wrote: "however the descriptions and various threads about Dave Gurney seem to be trying just a tick too hard. Not in a bad way, just a little distracting. I find myself saying, oops here it goes again. ..."


message 11: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Correct. Which is exactly why you and I would not make good subjects for a thriller, LOL!

Ann wrote: "even though scared, Mark is having nothing to do with the police. Not a smart move. ..."


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments Good question, Carol! hard to quote exactly since I listened to the audio, but I think it is a feeling of detachment that I get when Dave is describing a scene as he encounters it, there is just a feeling of disconnection. It's subtle, and maybe my imagination. I can almost describe it as the way that feelings are ascribed to Dave as the way he thinks about his surroundings, but that come across as if through a narrator, essentially I think it is a mix of first person when Dave seems to be in charge of the narrative, switching to third person perspective when he is describing a scene in great colorful detail.
Carol/Bonadie wrote: "Ann, can you say a bit more about this? Not sure what you mean.
Ann wrote: "however the descriptions and various threads about Dave Gurney seem to be trying just a tick too hard. Not in a bad way..."



message 13: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments I am going back and reviewing the two opportunities Dave had to talk to his son Kyle on the phone - in Chapter 2 when Kyle called and talked the Madeline, and chapter 3 when Dave has to wait three hours to call Kyle back in Seattle, and then doesn't call him; and I am wondering at the significance.
Is Verdon simply showing Dave's disconnection with his family in another way in addition to the allusions of the adjustments to retirement that have Dave and Madeline at odds?


message 14: by Merrilee in AZ (new)

Merrilee in AZ | 1112 comments I have read the fort few chapters. So far I think it's a little confusing. So far don't like the characters. It is an interesting story so far.


message 15: by Merrilee in AZ (new)

Merrilee in AZ | 1112 comments That should be first lol


message 16: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments Carol: I thought about my earlier statement some more, and think part of my feeling that the descriptions were trying "a bit too hard" stems from the way Dave thinks about every other character with a label, and not always a flattering one. Those tend to take me out of the story, if only briefly.
Carol/Bonadie wrote: "Ann, can you say a bit more about this? Not sure what you mean.

Ann wrote: "however the descriptions and various threads about Dave Gurney seem to be trying just a tick too hard. Not in a bad way..."



message 17: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Hmm. I'll have to think about this. My feelings about Dave are sadness about the tragedy (whatever it was) that had his young son die, and my frustration that he can't reach out to Madeleine and pull her closer to him and get her to buy in to his commitment to the case. I'm not sure how long they've been married but he was surely a dedicated policeman when they got married; that hasn't changed. Maybe she expected when he retired he would be different, but to that I say: fat chance.

.Ann wrote: "Ann (AnnRumsey) | 5760 comments Carol: I thought about my earlier statement some more, and think part of my feeling that the descriptions were trying "a bit too hard" stems from the way Dave thinks about every other character with a label, and not always a flattering one. Those tend to take me out of the story, if only briefly. ..."


message 18: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Yes, this is frustrating to me too. He seems to not be listening to whatever it is that Kyle is trying to tell him. I am always frustrated when characters let unsaid remarks remain unsaid, but I suppose if the characters in these novels were expert communicators half the plot would disappear, LOL.

Ann wrote: "I am going back and reviewing the two opportunities Dave had to talk to his son Kyle on the phone - in Chapter 2 when Kyle called and talked the Madeline, and chapter 3 when Dave has to wait three..."


message 19: by Ann (last edited Aug 02, 2014 08:11PM) (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14095 comments Carol: And we have to wonder what the implications will be from Dave not talking to Kyle; is this just an indication of Dave's family relationships, or will there be some impact later in the book. A loose thread, in a story full of puzzling threads.
One minute I think what an idyllic life Dave and Madeline have, and the next thing their marriage is teetering on the edge, anger, jealousy, grief, misunderstandings.
Carol/Bonadie wrote: "Yes, this is frustrating to me too. He seems to not be listening to whatever it is that Kyle is trying to tell him. I am always frustrated when characters let unsaid remarks remain unsaid.."


message 20: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Yes, with every loose end like Kyle and Dave's relationship. I wonder when it will surface to really blow up in Dave's face. But since this is a series it could take awhile.

Ann wrote: "Carol: And we have to wonder what the implications will be from Dave not tawking to Kyle; is this just an indication of Dave's family relationships, or will there be some impact later in the book. ..."


message 21: by Donnajo (new)

Donnajo | 3463 comments Okay can I say confusing. I'm glad of the short chapters. It hasn't grabbed me yet. Going to try for an few more chapters tonight. I've had this book on my wish list forever it seems would hate to give up or not enjoy it.


message 22: by Donnajo (new)

Donnajo | 3463 comments If I ever get off the mail thing I will get more read want to get though 16 tonight the font in the library copy is horrible very light. Have to use the brighter light on. My nightstand light. Middle one not the brightest. Tomorrow need to locate my clip on book light maybe that will help.


message 23: by Barry (last edited Aug 05, 2014 07:19PM) (new)

Barry (barrypz) | 2921 comments How do I get caught up in these literary mysteries?
On the one hand, the letters and guessing of the numbers provides an intriguing entrance to the mystery.
On the other hand, everybody seems to be thinking too much about everything. Maybe that is what a murder professional does, since when I do it, it is to figure out what my management might be thinking.


message 24: by Merrilee in AZ (new)

Merrilee in AZ | 1112 comments I agree with Barry, a little to much thinking, kind of like the author is trying to hard.


message 25: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7684 comments Ha-ha. He's just getting started, Barry and Merrilee. I hope you can hang in to the end to weigh in on whether it's worth it or whether you think it was overdone all the way through.


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