Think of a Number by John Verdon

Recently retired after a prestigious career with the NYPD, homicide detective Dave Gurney is pulled back into service when an old college friend receives threatening letters from a murderous sender who has an uncanny ability to read a person’s thoughts
Dave Gurney is a retired detective who has solved some headline-grabbing cases in his career. One day Mark, an associate from Dave’s past shows up with an intriguing puzzle for him to solve. The puzzle involves a letter that asked Mark to think of a number and when he opened the attached envelope, he discovered the very number he was thinking of. Dave reluctantly agrees to help Mark with this curious case and shortly afterwards, his friend is murdered in the most bizarre way. Now Dave must figure out what is the connection between the letter and his friend’s death.

I’ve wanted to read Think of a Number for a while. The premise seemed amazing, a brilliant yet retired homicide detective versus a cold blooded killer who can apparently read other people’s thoughts. It’s like Sherlock versus Moriarty, a battle between two brilliant minds! However what started out as an intriguing mystery began turning sour as the story evolves into a standard plot of a broken villain with a sob story. I would be happy if you tell me the killer is just deranged but don’t tell me he ended this way because he witnessed his mother’s death when he was younger and now he’s on a revenge trip.

Dave is supposed to be this brilliant detective but instead of revealing this through his actions in the story, we are repeatedly told how brilliant he is through different characters who have worked with him in the past. There are plenty of moments where you question what exactly makes him brilliant when all he does is use the answers the side characters give him. I mean how clever can you be if you follow the culprit down to his secret lair?

Even though the plot didn’t live up to my expectation, not all of it was bad though. I thought Dave Gurney was a pretty well developed character. Dave may not be everything that he is supposed to be but he does come across very well as a worn out cop with plenty of baggage through his years in the force. Rather than about the crimes themselves, this book is more like a wake up call for Dave Gurney. The mystery is just a vehicle to help Dave make a decision on what truly matters in his life.

The pace of the book is a little slow, especially the beginning chapters of the book, yet I think it suits the sombre mood of this book.

It’s not a must read series for me but I’m still interested in reading the second book Shut Your Eyes Tightsome time in the future.