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Group Read Books - archive > Think of a Number Part 3-B Chapters 44-53- spoilers welcome

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message 1: by Ann (last edited Jul 29, 2014 01:58AM) (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments This is the second half of part three, Back to the Beginning, which we will split into two parts, this second segment is pages 304-418, Chapters 44-53.
If the first to post could provide a brief summary that would be helpful. Spoilers welcome in this thread.


message 2: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Chapter 44 – Final arguments

Dave arrives at a meeting of the murder team. A forensic psychologist, Dr. Holdenfield, has joined the group. She thinks the pace of murders is quickening. The police officer dispatched to Dermott’s house for protection has been killed – that’s four. Hardwick has learned of another 5 years ago – a priest in Boston.

A team dusted the Enchanted Cottage, where the mother and son birders stayed, for fingerprints. They found the word “redrum” written on the outside of the bathroom door. Several recognize this from The Shining – “murder” spelled backwards. Another connection. Through a series of cases that sound similar, they arrive at two important solutions. (1) The purpose of the checks is to identify the people guilty enough to respond to the challenge by sending in checks, and (2) the killer doesn’t have to gues the right number, he just has to send out multiple letters with the same number and wait for someone to guess the number he’s sent. It will happen eventually.

Chapter 45 – To rest in peace, act now

The team bats around these two theories. Holdenfield suggests the killer may be falling apart, and Dave thinks guiltily of the taunting letter he sent. He remembers with horror that he mailed the letter from his home, which means the killer knows the town he lives in from the postmark.

A call comes in from CT. Dermott just received a call. The killer says that Dermott is next in line, followed by Dave.

Chapter 46 – A simple plan

The killer is planning to take out as many cops as he can.

Chapter 47 – Welcome to Wycherly

Dave heads to CT. He calls Madeleine; she is distressed because he is heading into the firestorm. He arrives and meets Lt. Nardo on the scene. The dead police officer was stabbed with a whiskey bottle, and a lawn chair was found nearby. Dermott is resting upstairs with a migraine.

Chapter 48 – A home with a history.

They don’t know what to do next. Dave goes to talk to Dermott, who asks “why me?” He thinks it may have to do with the house. He asks Dave if he knows of anything unusual associated with the house. Dermott admits that he was told about a crime 20+ years ago – a wife was stabbed by her husband in the throat.


message 3: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Chapter 49 – Kill them all

Dave tells Nardo of the stabbing. Nardo remembers the case. The husband claimed self-defense and got off, left town. The wife had brain damage. Social services too the kid. Dave asks why Nardo didn’t tell him this to begin with? Because the father was a cop.
The cop monitoring calls at the house receives another threatening call from the killer and plays it for Nardo and Dave.

Chapter 50 – Re-search

Dermott calls out for Nardo and Dave. Dave goes up and Dermott is agitated because he does not feel adequately protected. Dave begins to ask Dermott about his business, developing security systems for business, wondering if there might be a connection with the killer. Nardo comes up and assures Dermott that he is being protected, there are police all around and the home has been searched. Dermott disagrees; there is a closet he knows has not been searched because he has the key and no one asked for it. So why does it need to be searched? Nardo asks. Just because; it shows the incompetence of the police. In frustration Nardo asks for the key to search, which surprises Dave. One he has gone Dermott remembers that the door is also padlocked, gives Dave the key. Dave joins Nardo and they open the door to the closet. And don’t quite understand what they are looking at.

Chapter 51 – Show-and-tell

Yikes. They are in a bedroom. As they walk around Dave notices a framed photocopy of each of the checks sent to Dermott’s P.O. Box. There’s a woman sitting in a chair in the corner, her head bowed. Dave realizes his mistake in bringing Nardo the key.
Too late. Dermott appears at the door with a broken bottle of 4 Roses in one hand and a 38 in the other.
Dermott threatens to gas everyone in the house, his plot to kill as many cops as possible. He wants Nardo to re-enact the stabbing incident from years ago, in which his father attacked his mother. But this time the outcome will be different; he will shoot the aggressor. Dave thwarts the plan by order Dermott to shoot Nardo right now. This unnerves Dermott because he is losing control – someone else is telling him what to do. The distraction is enough for Nardo to throw a bottle and hit Dermott in the head

Chapter 52 – Death before dawn

The police come in and apprehend the injured Dermott and call an ambulance for him and for Dave, who was hit in the head with a flying piece of glass. Nardo is pissed; he wants Dave to explain why he ordered Dermott to shoot him. Dave explains. Nardo is suspicious but eventually calms down, asks about some of the other details. Dermott had bragged about how well he knew Dave, including mentioning the death of his 4-year old son. Dave explains the circumstances. He also speculates that Dermott designed security systems for big medical insurance databases, and may have come up with the idea to send letters to all the men treated for alcoholism. Dermott also got his mother out of a nursing home.
Dave writes up his statement, then heads home.

Chapter 53 – Ending, beginning

On the drive home, Dave reflects on the case, on Madeleine, on his life. He calls his son Kyle and reconnects. Kyle has lost his job, split with his wife, and wants Dave’s advice about going to law school. Dave invites him up for the weekend to discuss.

Dave gets a call from the hospital. Dermott died from a hemorrhage due to his head wound.

Dave return home to Madeleine and they engage in a comforting embrace.


message 4: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Wow. That was some ending.

I wound up feeling really annoyed that I didn't see Dermott coming. Every time he appeared in the book I thought "this is wierd" but I never put it together.

I have one question -- what was the deal with the name R. Kartch, the third murder victim? Dave kept saying this was familiar but he couldn't think of why, but I'm not sure he ever did. Did I miss something?


message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments Carol
The R Karch significance was that only the R initial should have been what was known, but Dermott, supposedly only from receiving the checks by mistake, knew the man's first name was Richard. I can't remember the exact context, but basically the statistical blind method of selecting victims meant the only way the killer "knew" details was from what the victim sent in response to the letters asking for the number between one and a thousand. The check was R Karch. So how did an innocent Dermott know it was Richard. That had been nagging at Dave supposedly and he figured it out as suspicious too late.


message 6: by Carol/Bonadie (last edited Aug 07, 2014 04:39AM) (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Oh yes, you're right. I remember when Dave explained that, but I didn't put that together with what bugged him about the name because I took him literally -- that the name itself was connected somewhere. Thanks for reminding me.

I think the point wasn't that the killer couldn't know Kartch's first name from the way letters were sent out -- the list generated from the database could very well have included a first name, I'd have to go back and look -- but that ONLY the killer could know the first name. An innocent bystander whose only contact with Kartch was a letter and check from an "R. Kartch" would not know his first name.

Ann wrote: "Carol
That had been nagging at Dave supposedly and he figured it out as suspicious too late. ..."



message 7: by Donnajo (new)

Donnajo | 3471 comments Interesting ending. Glad I pushed my way though it and was able to finish .


message 8: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments The scenes in the bunker bedroom were very intense. I wasn't sure Dave was going to be able to convince Nardo afterwards that he was not really trying to get Durmott to kill Nardo.
What a bizarre plan to want to recreate the night his father stabbed and permanently damaged his mother.
It was implied by the timeline of when Nardo and the cop who was killed started on the force, so that seeing one of the cops who we can assume he thought did nothing about his father's abuse drove him to snap.
It was very creepy that the cops didn't realize they were in the house with the killer all along.


message 9: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments I'm glad you pushed your way to the end also, DJ. I was hoping you would, but there is no telling what will grab someone enough to keep them interested, and I had my doubts for awhile there.

Donnajo wrote: "Interesting ending. Glad I pushed my way though it and was able to finish ."


message 10: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 7784 comments Yes! This was such a fine twist because when it happened I thought "duh!" But I hadn't seen it coming. It is always amazing to me when an author can plant the solution right under our noses and readers don't get it. That seems so much more a skill than a villain who is an unrelated crazy that the detective eventually tracks down. Agatha Christie was a master at this.

Ann wrote: "It was very creepy that the cops didn't realize they were in the house with the killer all along. .."


message 11: by Donnajo (new)

Donnajo | 3471 comments last night I was going back and forth and at times I was reading the threads ahead to kind of give me some insight while reading the chapter.


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann (annrumsey) | 14202 comments I wonder now if the intent of showing Dave Gurney as ultimately fallible was part of the point of the novel. He was embarrassed whenever someone would say, "That Dave Guerny? The best NYC Detective?" He did have a very high closure rate, and obviously was able to solve puzzles and catch criminals, but even Dave missed that Durmott was right under their noses.
OF course on the other hand he was hardly in charge of the investigation and he didn't control the level of attention paid to the different threads, he went to the B&B and found what was missed, he wasn't exactly paid to go and visit the PO Box location or owner, but still he missed the clues for Durmott almost to a fatal end.


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