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.
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.
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!
The best thing Verdon did was secure Scott Brick as his narrator. That's what I would have changed in his first book. It was the right move. All of the qualities that were distracting and irritating in the first book are ironed out in this one. Thank you!
I would pump up the action a bit but the actual investigation and crime are interesting and compelling. Mostly though, I would just excise the marriage sections since they drag the story down. The wife's character was such a confounding, unsympathetic creation. But she is better served here with Scott Brick's narration than she was in the first book without him.
They're smart and creative but he's really gotta get Scott Brick to narrate any future books. He's the key.
The main character, Gurney, is complicated and interesting. Brick lends just the right amount of bravado and vulnerability. I know I'm a broken record here but this is a reader who will buy a book strictly because it's narrated by Brick so there ya go.
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.
Great book, keeps you thinking about how everything fits together. The narrator, Scott Brick, is my favorite; he does such a great job with changing his voice between characters. The characters' voices seem real and not fake like some of the other narrators I have listened to. This is the first book of this series I've listened to (a little out of order) but I will definately listen to the other two.
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!!
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This was a potentially 5 star story that was somewhat overwritten into a 4 star. The mystery was clever and well thought out, although I had the villian pegged from the beginning without yet quite knowing how it was pulled off. Gurney is a smart detective, worth following his instincts and process. Where the story carried too much unnecessary weight was with Gurney's long and repetitive inner musings that were apparently meant to give him depth and gravitas, and in the domestic trouble with Gurney's wife who was maddeningly passive aggressive in her displeasure at his post retirement detective activities. Both problems stall the momentum of the story and add an unpleasant melancholy to Gurney's personality. Editing out roughly half the scenes of Madeline's sighs and ironic looks and Gurney's philosophical introspection would have dropped roughly an hour off the reading time without damaging the storyline one bit.
One thing that was interesting but ultimately a little frustrating, was that some very smart questions were raised fairly early on, but the possible answers were not really thoughtfully explored until much later - by the time the light bulb finally came on, I was thinking "well I was wondering about that a long time ago." The resolution did not come as a major surprise to me, but how the resolution played out was clever enough to maintain interest and settle the score. Scott Brick was the right reader for the story - this kind of emotional thriller is right in his wheelhouse and he did it justice.
To get a better idea of my background. I am a working class white male in my forties. I love good fiction, and I love smart books. I have drifted towards a lot of European writers like Reginald Hill, Val McDermid.,Etc....
I don't have a huge review to write. The title says it all. If you read the first one - Then you'll prbably enjoy this one as well. If you didn't read the first one - Why the heck are you getting this one ;-) I didn't hate Scott Brick's narration - That was good.
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