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Think of a Number Audiobook

Think of a Number: A Novel

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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

What the Critics Say

"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 Rating

3.9 (935 )
5 star
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3.9 (766 )
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Story
4.0 (766 )
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Beverly Goleta, California 93117 01-09-11
    Beverly Goleta, California 93117 01-09-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    William New Port Richey, FL, United States 09-23-10
    William New Port Richey, FL, United States 09-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    36
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    4
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    "OK Story, but Terrible Reading"

    I enjoyed the story and the written book actually deserves more than the 2 stars I gave the Audible book. The story was a little slow in places, but kept my interest. I kept trying to figure out the puzzle all the way to the end. I really enjoyed the main character's attempt to figure out his life and relationship after retirement. I can see other novels in this series, since the renowned detective can't let go of what he enjoys and does best; so many killers, so few experts. The one plot element I didn't like was the death of a loved one as the reason for all the angst. This theme is really overworked (think of how many main characters are tormented by his loss of a loved one) and not needed to develop the character or his relationship with his wife. Ok, enough about the story. What I didn't like was the reader, George Newbern. Why he was picked as the reader, I'll never know. His voice and inflections are monochromatic and dull. The pitch of his voice is a little too mid-range which adds to the dullness of his reading; however, it would work if he read with a little more excitement, like he really wanted to do this. The first part of the reading is clipped and spoken like he's reading a dull textbook instead of a thrilling novel. He does get better about a third of the way into the book, like he's getting used to reading, but it's not enough to save the performance. He ruined the book for me. My wife, listened to part of the book with me on a road trip and said the same thing about the reader. I would buy the next story in the series, if the author wrote it, but not if George Newbern was the reader! This is one of my pet peeves with Audible books. Who makes the decision on readers? Do people compete for the opportunity to read an Audible book? Why not use a panel of listeners to decide the reader? Oh well, I'll start listening to the sample audio before I spend my credit.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melanie Los Lunas, NM, United States 08-19-10
    Melanie Los Lunas, NM, United States 08-19-10
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    "Intriguing story, overwritten and slow"

    Good original story, but the unabridged version has periods of slow pontification that just drag. Narration is more of a read than a performance. Still, the story makes it a worthwhile listen, but you might want the abridged version if available.

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GogginGuy Fairfield, OH USA 07-17-14
    GogginGuy Fairfield, OH USA 07-17-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't make it through"
    Any additional comments?

    The narrator was performing this story and not telling a story; his voice always had this slightly hightened quality; all he needed to do was relax. His performace was remarkably uneasily dull. It didn't help that the writing was pretty amaturish -- the author was trying to create a rhythm in a by-the-numbers, I-learned-how-to-write-from-a-how-to-book way which was painfully obvious by the many torchured metaphors. The premise was not as interesting as other reviewers indicate; all you have to do is think about it and the explaination (which completely escapes this apparently smart retired detective) becomes clear. Solving the "mystery" early made the rest of it unbearable.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Delman San Francisco 10-24-17
    Richard Delman San Francisco 10-24-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Brilliant! One of the best murder mysteries ever."

    I had never heard of Mr. Verdon before, but I am thrilled to have just finished this book, knowing that there are four more in the series so far. George Newbern does an excellent job here as well. The protagonist, Dave Gurney, is a former NYPD homicide cop, now retired but working free-lance and still absolutely consumed by it, to his wife's profound dismay. He is a wounded hero, as many of these guys are, and you see him repeatedly searching for the answer to his own trauma. His wife, Madelyn, BTW, knows the entire cycle, but Dave just cannot hear her when she tries to tell him what he is doing with his life. His quarry in this book is a serial murderer. These are books which I frequently avoid, but you can tell immediately that this is one hell of a writer, who grabs you with his style, his wit and the fascinating plot, so that you are quickly hooked. He is very serious, quite a contrast to, for example, the gentle and sweet Walt Longmire, and he gets so wrapped up in his cases that he can think of nothing else. We meet the bad guy about halfway through the book. He is very weird, a psychotic or a psychopath or whatever, a hideously damaged individual who is trying desperately to recover from his own childhood trauma. If this sounds depressing, I didn't find it so, although I admit that I have a high tolerance for this sort of thing, provided that it is done with style, wit and a great plot. The plot is much too complicated for me to give you any idea of it, but reading the blurb and listening to the sample will give you a very minor taste of what's in store. There are dozens of law enforcers involved. The setting is upstate New York, plus other locations around New England. The time of year is winter, and it is beautifully described by Mr. Verdon. I have never been nostalgic about snow, having grown up in the MidWest and living in Ann Arbor before I moved to the SF Bay Area. Several of the scenes describe beauty of such breathtaking scope that the weather almost becomes a character in the book, much as NYC often is the primary focus of many writers who live there, like Lawrence Block. Happily, Mr. Verdon can't be compared to any other author in this genre, and I am thrilled to have discovered him. (Obviously, many many other readers have discovered him well before I did.) You are in for a terrific time here. There is a little bit too much gore in places, and a bit too much law enforcement minutiae, but the book is so over-powering that those are nits that don't deserve to be picked. Read up!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scooter 07-31-17
    Scooter 07-31-17 Member Since 2010
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    "One of the best detective stories I've ever listen to"

    Very intriguing, very cerebral, I was only able to guess a couple of the twists. I will definitely search for other books by this author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dickie Floyd 06-09-17
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    "Just Excellent!"

    I found this book by browsing, and the reviews compelled me to make the purchase. There was no disappointment and in fact I am very impressed with the author. From one LEO to another, well done, sir!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-03-17 Member Since 2016
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    "decent"

    It took quite a while to connect with the main character. The performance was distracting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zoe 06-01-17
    Zoe 06-01-17 Member Since 2016
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    4
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    "Mystery without direction"

    Good performance and interesting premise. I enjoyed the character descriptions but felt a lack of conclusion. Third person narrative took advantage of keeping info from readers while fully describing all the main character's thoughts... which didn't always mix well. Lots of detail (which allowed listeners to form own hypotheses) but some parts were slow without a cause.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.K. Merrill Anchorage, AK United States 05-29-17
    M.K. Merrill Anchorage, AK United States 05-29-17 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Story & Narration!"

    John Verdon has created a worthy story. The dialogue and character interaction rings true. The character development is great. The story is fairly complex but yet easy to follow. It starts out slow in the beginning but after a few hours in takes off and is worth the wait. The quality of the recording is professional. Newborn does a fantastic job bringing reality to the emotion of the characters. His inflection, tone and expression is good and does not detract from the story. In my experience this is hard to find and can almost ruin a story. There were characters I loved and despised. It's been a while since a writer/narrator combo has provoked my emotions so strongly. I hope the writing & narrators in the rest of the series is as good. It will be one I continue to listen to for sure!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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