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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Think of a Numb3r by John Verdon

Think of a Number by John Verdon

Mark Mellery calls his old college friend, recently retired NYPD detective David Gurney. Gurney and his wife, Madeleine, have moved out to the New York countryside on a farm. Gurney barely remembers Mellery but becomes intrigued when Mellery says he has a puzzle. So he meets with Mellery. It seems Mellery was a party boy in college and after college became a full fledged alcoholic. He turns his life around and starts counseling others and now has a spiritual retreat center not too far away from Gurney's farm. He has recieved some weird poems that seem to refer to something in his past. He is afraid he may have done something during one of his alcoholic blackouts. The sender also throws in a game. He/She asks Mellery to pick a number then look in the sealed envelope that accompanied the letter. Somehow the sender had guessed the correct number. This is what really gets Mellery's attention. Are the notes threats? Why now? What did he do? What should he do? How did the sender get the right number?

The murder scenes have puzzling clues too which tasks Gurney's solving skills. His wife, Madeleine, helps him with some good catches. But their relationship is suffering. He is not able to turn off his detecting and fully engage with her and she resents it. I thought Verdon did a good job of integrating Gurney's marriage relationship without too much intrusion into the main story. Good character development. I really enjoyed this book. It was a great mystery and I look forward to more. I'm hoping Gurney's marriage survives because Madeleine and David are a good team for future novels. Considering this was Verdon's first book, it's wonderfully structured. Well done, John Verdon!

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