When he was the NYPD’s top homicide investigator, Dave Gurney was never comfortable with the label the press gave him: super detective. He was simply a man who, when faced with a puzzle, wanted to know. He was called to the investigative hunt by the presumptuous arrogance of murderers - by their smug belief that they could kill without leaving a trace. There was always a trace, Gurney believed.
Except what if, one day, there wasn’t?
Dave Gurney, a few months past the Mellery case that pulled him out of retirement and then nearly killed him, is trying once again to adjust to his country house’s bucolic rhythms when he receives a call about a case so seductively bewildering that the thought of not looking into it seems unimaginable - even if his beloved wife, Madeleine, would rather he do anything but.
The facts of what has occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated, her head apparently severed by a machete. Though police investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed the young woman in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother -a chilly high-society beauty - is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre.
Underneath it all may exist one of the darkest criminal schemes imaginable. And as Gurney begins deciphering its grotesque outlines, some of his most cherished assumptions about himself are challenged, causing him to stare into an abyss so deep that it threatens to swallow not just him but Madeleine, too.
Desperate to protect Madeleine and bring an end to the madness, Gurney ultimately discovers that the killer has left a trace after all. Unfortunately, the revelation may come too late to save his own life.
With Shut Your Eyes Tight, John Verdon delivers on the promise of his internationally best-selling debut, Think of a Number, creating a portrait of evil let loose across generations that is as rife with moments of touching humanity as it is with spellbinding images of perversity.
Also listen to Think of a Number.
©2011 John Verdon (P)2011 Random House Audio
"Verdon, who hit a home run with his debut novel, Think of a Number, has now nailed another one." (Booklist)
"Verdon follows Think of a Number, his sensational debut featuring retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney, with this standout sequel, set a year later [with] a bizarre, high-profile murder…an apparent impossibility involving the murder weapon, and once again… a relationship in crisis." (Publishers Weekly)
With the prurient theme of this book, and the gruesome crime that starts it off, the reader could expect a literal bloodbath of stomach-turning descriptions wallowing in the gore. But Verdon rises considerably above this, and makes it sensational in its academic dissection of the characters and facts to be able to solve this, on the surface, "locked room mystery". The deeper the deceptively literate investigator digs, the more prurient the people and facts become. However, rather than sink into the fore angle, Verdon keeps it on an intellectual level, confining the sanguine aspects to fact status. It is a joy to read, as the narration is so literarily expressive; perhaps not quite in sync with the musings and stream of consciousness of a retired police detective originally from a modest neighborhood in the Bronx. It stretches the bonds of realism, but the thought-provoking exploration of psychology and literature is a delight. The author is gifted in poetic descriptions, and those in-depth sensory descriptions allow the reader to understand and participate, rather than being "told" how the scene was set, or what he saw or felt.
I arbitrarily chose to read this author's second book before the first, figuring that, if I liked his matured effort, it would look at the earlier work. It takes so much more talent to concentrat the energy on the reasons behind, rather an the sensationalization and brutality of the crime. Making this a psychological thriller, while resisting the temptation of easy "gore satisfaction", is a triumph in itself, and more than validates this as a search into the psyche. Most well-known authors can't resist this grabber ploy, and wannabes concentrate on it so much that they produce thin bloodbaths with no depth.
I look forward to more from this fascinating author, as he probes that which is hidden in all of us, as well as his complicated characters. He fairly analyses his own life and relationship, just as he pulls apart others. Great, deep, probing, highly literate psychological thriller.
The author managed to write an entertaining doozy of a story while still being plausible. Psychological insights were deep and characters fascinating. I didn't want the book to end.
The story was put together very well. Good insight to the main character and how his personal life affected the tasks he decided to take on. The plot is interesting and reasonable, and it kept me in the dark to the end. The narrator is very talented; he used lots of distinctive voices and personalities so effectively that I knew who it "was" even before an identification of a character change. I enjoyed this story quite a bit.
This is the first book I have read by John Verdon and found the book very entertaining. Since Scott Brick is one of my favorite narrarators, I decided to give it a try. I will look for other books by John in the future.
These police procedurals are amazingly good --- John Verdon is going to be big. The main characters, who carry over in a series, are very complex; the language is beautiful, and there are CONCEPTS, wonderful ideas, original thinking. The crime puzzles are so -- puzzling -- that one is drawn right in. The dramatic situations become believable, somehow, as mystery piles onto mystery. This is not the usual boring serial killer schtick. It's original and thrilling serial killer plot.
Unfortunately, this volume is read by Scott Brick. I swore never to get another one read by him, and it was an accident -- his ever-downward voice makes me think of d-words: dire, down, drear, death, doom. Every sentence has a histrionic, overly emotional tone that I wouldn't think men would like, but he does a lot of men's books, like Coben. He must have a darn good agent! is all I can think. The producers have figured it out and the third Verdon is read by someone else. All three current novels by Verdon are read by different readers, so these are books that have not found their voice yet.
When I have enjoyed a book, I can't wait to write a review. I enjoyed this book! A good detective who dunnit.... I had a idea of who had dunnit (the usual suspect) but I would have never guessed the complexity of the who and why. Like Janice of Sugar Land, TX said, it could have been a bit leaner, but since this is my first read by this author, and especially since it was narrated by Scott Brick (the best! and first or second on my list of narrators) I didn't mind the meanderings the lead character took from time to time. Some reviewers said to read the first book first. I didn't and yes there are a couple or three loose ends but for me the loose ends didn't distract from the story. Scott Brick's voices for the characters were realistic and not fake like some voices by other narrators. A good read.
Scott Brick doesn't disappoint! Tha main character is a unyielding murder detective. The suspense between him and his wife is just as suspenseful as the murders! Their marriage is teetering on the precipice, while MC is struggling with his dark past. Painful memories, conflict resolution didn't come quickly! A wonderful drama and thriller all in one! Loved it!
This author has a very promising series going on -a likable ex-detective who can't seem to stay away from solving crimes. He was one of the best, so they keep coming back to him to use as a "consultant" on all those hard to solve cases. His wife is less than pleased with this activity, so their relationship is always on the cool side (so far at least.) It gets a little tedious, so I hope this changes in future books.
I really liked this story -but thought the first one was better. This one seemed a little sloppy at the end for me--seemed to drag. However, I'm sure some is due to the narrator. I am in agreement with other reviewers (Cristina and Phebe) who think Scott Brick was all wrong for the narrator. He is fine for the main character, but when he tries to talk for the side kick, he puts on a dumb cop from Jersey accent and it is tiring. I've noticed he does this in other books and tends to be overly dramatic. I would have enjoyed much more if the narrator from the first book was used here.
Yes, Scott Brick could make any story better, and he doesn't disappoint with Shut Your Eyes Tight.
I've listened to many Scott Brick performances. He is my favorite narrator. He did an excellent job with this one, just like his others!
One of the things that I liked best about this book is the the fact that the story is so different from anything else I've read. I love mysteries and thrillers. This one is dark and has some creepy characters, I loved it!!
I am loving this author. Yes, the stories are a little farfetched, but the way he makes them all come together in a way you can almost believe makes them incredibly fun to read. Plus (and I said this with the first one), most of the clues are there for you as well -- i.e. unlike some detective novels where there are no "clues," just revealed pieces of the puzzle at the end. My only criticism is of Scott Brick. Normally, I really enjoy his style, but he overdid it here. I actually liked the reader of the first book better. While a lot of reviewers found that reader lacking, I thought Scott Brick got in the way. He portrays the hero as a man-with-a-chip-on-his-shoulder and arrogant, but I think he is actually simply introspective. Still, a fun, fun read. Definitely recommend. Looking forward to Mr. Verdon's third novel. Write fast, please!
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