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Publisher's Summary

An extraordinary fiction debut, Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates, forcing its deeply troubled characters to moments of startling self-revelation.

Arriving in the mail over a period of weeks are taunting letters that end with a simple declaration: “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly.

For Dave Gurney, just retired as the NYPD’s top homicide investigator and forging a new life with his wife, Madeleine, in upstate New York, the letters are oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle but quickly ignite a massive serial murder investigation.

What police are confronted with is a completely baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air. Even more disturbing, the scale of his ambition seems to widen as events unfold.

Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and finally, a dark, cold fear builds that he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.

In the end, fighting to keep his bearings amid a whirlwind of menace and destruction, Gurney sees the truth of what he’s become – what we all become when guilty memories fester – and how his wife Madeleine’s clear-eyed advice may be the only answer that makes sense.

©2005 John Verdon (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

"Think of a Number is truly unputdownable. Rarely have I read a debut novel that has gripped me as this one has from the first page to the last. This book doesn’t just entertain – it engages you and draws you immediately into the lives of the characters, who are as real as real can be. John Verdon has written a flawless novel about flawed people and he’s written it beautifully. I hope we see a lot more of John Verdon and his smart protagonist, Dave Gurney, in years to come.” (Nelson DeMille)
“John Verdon’s Think of a Number is simply one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a lifetime of thriller reading -- eloquent, heart-rending, deeply suspenseful on many levels, and relentlessly intelligent. The characters live and breathe, the plot is diabolically clever and airtight, and the prose is sublime. Absolutely not to be missed! At one stroke, Verdon establishes himself as a bright star in the thriller firmament.” (John Lescroart)
"Verdon’s protagonist Dave Gurney is one for the ages, and readers everywhere will surely clamor to see this man again. Think of a Number gets full marks from me. And I think it will from you, too. Enjoy." (David Baldacci)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

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Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
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  • Story

Superb

This book deserves all the praise it's been getting. The story grabbed me right from the beginning. It is intelligent, very well written, strong character development, and a plot that is entirely unpredictable (at least so far: I haven't finished yet). The narration is terrific. I have already recommended this book to about ten people. Verdon is a master.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sandy
  • Coralville, IA, United States
  • 01-25-11

Needs a reader with more energy

I stopped after listening to a little more than 2 hours of this book. It did not hold my interest as the reader did not put inflection in his voice or feeling in his characters. I listen to the samples each time I buy a book but it seems that whoever selects the samples finds a good part and uses that. I would like a sample that starts with the first page of the book. If the reader and/or book does not grab me after a few pages I will continue to look. If you buy something at a store and it isn't what you think it is, you can return it. This book isn't what I thought it was. How do you get your credit back? And does anyone from customer service actually read the comments?

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Beverly
  • Goleta, California 93117
  • 01-09-11

PLEASE!

I have listened to 3 hours and 29 minutes of this book and if i wanted to read a psychology book I know many others that would hold my interest more than this- It was touted as a psychological thriller but if it takes mores than 3 hours to get to the "thriller" part- I give up. I want my credit back.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

worst narration ever

the story was disjointed and often pedantic. the narration was really bad. what a total waste of time and money. :-(

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Predictable but entertaining

A classic story of an old cop too good and too involved to retire, a serial killer with several trick in sleeves, and many likable character makes up for a bit too predictable storyline.
John verdon delivers a very entertaining book, properly narrated and voiced by George Newbern

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting premise, horrible writing.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

I suppose this book is for anyone who doesn't mind stilted dialogue, a slow beginning, flat characters and dreadful prose. I'll put up with mediocre writing if you can tell me a whopping good story in exchange, but I can't spare the time for writing that is intolerably bad.

Would you ever listen to anything by John Verdon again?

No.

What didn’t you like about George Newbern’s performance?

Newbern's performance was just okay for voicing, but after he mispronounced a few words, I decided that life was just too short to continue listening to this book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The premise seemed intriguing, but unfortunately the writing was so awful I didn't get very far.

Any additional comments?

I am grateful for Audible's return policy!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Interesting plot

This was very interesting, I didn't figure out how the victims were picked until told. Very enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Amy
  • Colorado Springs, CO, United States
  • 04-25-14

Heroes not very smart in this book!

What disappointed you about Think of a Number?

Felt like the police and main character were stupid. Obvious things that should have been looked at closer, weren't. Really didn't care for the book

Has Think of a Number turned you off from other books in this genre?

Not in this genre, but by this author

Which scene was your favorite?

None

What character would you cut from Think of a Number?

?

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Satisfying

Any additional comments?

The premise is fascinating, the characters are fairly well drawn, the plot moves along quickly. Best of all, the story has an ending. The puzzle has a reasonable solution and the emotional conflict is somewhat resolved. It's all good. If only the editors would remove the umpteenth recap, the book could be a third shorter and nearly perfect.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Terrible writing and narration

The story was okay, but the boring narration, stilted dialogue, and sophomoric descriptions ruined it for me. I would like my money and four hours of my life back.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful