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Shut Your Eyes Tight (Dave Gurney, No. 2): A Novel [Kindle Edition]

John Verdon
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.99
Kindle Price: $7.99
You Save: $6.00 (43%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Private investigator Leo Waterman thought he had seen it all, until he finds himself in killer's torture chamber. Find out what happens in Chump Change.

Book Description

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 bestselling 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.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Reviewer: Lisa Scottoline on Shut Your Eyes Tight

Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author of 18 novels including her latest, Save Me. She is President of Mystery Writers of America and writes a weekly column, Chick Wit, with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The columns have been collected in Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog and My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space.

Voice is the hallmark of a great writer, and I loved John Verdon’s riveting Shut Your Eyes Tight from page one, because I fell in love with his voice.

Yes, the plot is a humdinger, too, with a bride turning up dead on her wedding day, whereupon former NYPD police detective Dave (“Don’t call me Davey”) Gurney is called out of an uneasy retirement to investigate the crime and find the killer. Gurney’s been settling into a country life in the Catskills, trying to force himself to think about mulch and bulldozers, but it ain’t working out so great. His superbly-drawn (if realistically tart-tongued) wife is hoping they can spend more time together, but Gurney is a “natural-born onion peeler” and he can’t sit on his hands when murder strikes in nearby, ritzy Tambury.

Gurney starts digging, asking thoughtful questions, and interviewing the society types who knew the bride, and soon his dining room table is covered with notes and gruesome crime-scene photos that his wife wishes weren’t around when dinner guests arrive. Yet Gurney persists, seeking the truth in his quiet, self-assured way.

The plot comes to life on the first page, but as I say, what keeps the pages turning is the pitch-perfect, intriguing voice of this “hero,” a term I know that Dave Gurney would hate. He’s super-smart, but the last one to brag. He loves his wife, but he doesn’t get all mawkish about her. He’s haunted by the death of his young child, but he doesn’t even say that aloud. Even his diversions are fascinating; you’ll never forget his theory of “The Eureka Fallacy,” a lesson in police analysis that applies to your everyday life. And he goes about serving justice, despite all the personal costs at home, with a care and concern that you realize, by the end, is characteristic.

I know that you’ll want to hear more from Dave Gurney and this amazingly talented author, John Verdon. I can’t wait for his next book.


A Letter from Author John Verdon

“How on earth did you put this together?”

That’s probably the question I was asked most frequently about my first Dave Gurney multi-layered thriller, Think of a Number. And now the early readers of the second novel in the series, Shut Your Eyes Tight, an even twistier tale, are asking it again.

I guess the best way to answer the question is to describe how these complex stories seem to develop in my mind. For me, there are two starting points for every mystery-thriller. There is the largely concealed action of the criminal—the true extent and nature of which will drive the plot, creating an increasing level of danger and destruction. And there is a specific mysterious result of that criminal action that initially touches and involves the crime-solver—drawing him into an ever higher level of confrontation with the underlying evil enterprise.

In Think of a Number, the initial tip of the criminal iceberg is a chilling and seemingly clairvoyant series of letters received by Dave Gurney’s old college classmate. As other baffling and murderous bits of the iceberg come to the surface, Dave becomes more and more engaged, more personally challenged to find the pattern, the motive, the killer.

In Shut Your Eyes Tight, the first visible sign of something complex beneath the surface is far more horrific. A bride is decapitated at her own wedding reception—and Dave is drawn into the investigation by a disgruntled cop who believes the official investigation is off-track.

My personal approach is to develop a story like Shut Your Eyes Tight on two simultaneous tracks that gradually become more and more entwined. The criminal does something that gets the attention of the detective; the detective begins his examination of the situation; the criminal escalates his activity, producing results that further involve the detective; the detective’s intensified investigative actions provoke more desperate responses by the criminal, building to a climactic high-risk confrontation and the revelation of the full architecture of the very nasty iceberg.

For me, the key to the credible development of this kind of a narrative lies in understanding my characters—their motives, emotions, and potential for interaction. But you know what part of the process excites and inspires me the most? It’s the part where I imagine that first visible hint of the monster beneath the surface. Whenever I see a horror or science-fiction movie, the great moment is that first glimpse of trouble.

I remember an old black-and-white movie I saw, probably back in the 1950s. A happy little family on vacation spent the night in their camping trailer by a back road in the desert. In the morning, one of the children, chasing a ball, comes upon a very strange footprint in the sand—nothing recognizably human or animal.

A clichéd opening? Sure. But it gave me gooseflesh, and I loved it! And of course, there is that remarkable scene near the beginning of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, in which the young hero, walking through the woods, happens upon a human ear.

I believe that a lot of the power and appeal of any narrative flows from its initial image of trouble. It’s the imaginative flash of lightning that illuminates the path into the story—for writer and reader alike.

Review

"Verdon, who hit a home run with his debut novel, THINK OF A NUMBER, has now nailed another one."--Booklist (Starred review)

"Verdon follows THINK OF A NUMBER, his sensational debut featuring retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney, with this standout sequel, set a year later. [The elements:] a bizarre, high-profile murder…an apparent impossibility involving the murder weapon, and once again…a relationship in crisis."--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1550 KB
  • Print Length: 529 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307717895
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 12, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WNGW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,680 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I thoroughly enjoyed Verdon's first novel Think of a Number but feel that he has really tightened up his writing for this second book in the Dave Gurney series.

What's not to like? We have early-retired NY police detective Gurney, still at the top of his game, living out in the verdant countryside with his happily countrified wife, Madeleine. But Gurney is having a hard time wrapping his mind around the fact that he ain't doing what he does best any more - tracking down the really bad guys.

So he lectures at the police academy (great reading about his teaching techniques BTW), and tries to seem reluctant (to Madeleine) when he's offered a job consulting on a horrific murder.

There are predatory women, unattached heads, footprints that disappear, coyotes that come and go, sex addicts, dumb ex-detectives that are Roofied because I guess they've never heard "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," a long-time marriage between total opposites with all its ups and downs, an audition for White-Trash Poster Boy (great designation), foreign gangsters.

I love this driven character that Verdon has created in Dave Gurney. And I also love his wife and their marriage. I love the puzzles he presents us in his books and the in-depth characterization.

This is a book I will be keeping and reading again in the future. I love Verdon's writing style - and because of that, I did not feel "Shut Your Eyes Tight" was too long at all. I savored each and every word.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity June 29, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Dave Guerney's second outing follows the same lines as his debut, THINK OF A NUMBER. Guerney, a celebrated homicide detective whose wife wants him to stay retired, is tantalized by a seemingly impossible crime scene. In this case, a bridegroom enters a tiny cottage at his wedding ceremony to discover his new bride has been decapitated. It's all on videotape, yet the person who the victim went to see is never seen leaving the cottage.

Verdon's formula continues with Guerney promising his patient, passive-aggressive wife that he isn't cheating on her with his love of detection and that the quiet country life she adores is just what he wants as well. The reader knows he's lying the minute he meets the psychiatric genius who was the bridegroom.

This is a great set-up. Unfortunately, the book is more than 500 bloated pages of Guerney's doubts, his conflicts with his wife and the official police investigating the case and recapping the little that is known over and over and over again. Guerney, the great NYPD detective, is taken in by the promise of fame and fortune by an art collector who he never even Googles before going to the stranger's house. He keeps crucial information to himself, pretends to be Tony Soprano on an unauthorized interrogation and manages once again to be in jeopardy at the climax. His wife turns on a dime with no reason given. If Verdon had stronger editing and worked on the show, don't tell, this could have been an even stronger novel than his debut. If Verdon cuts the recaps and unnecessary information (a paragraph devoted to an open window late in the story kept me wondering who was going to come through it), and builds up the connection between the motivation in the case and his own emotional journey, the result would be fantastic.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A clever blending of two genres.

Retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney was always a clever puzzle solver when on the job. Now he's retired, at forty-eight, his wife, Madeleine, and he living on an eighty acre place in New York. He occasionally lectures at the police academy in Albany, but his biggest thing to worry about these days is whether to use manure on the asparagus plants.

He still feels the tug though.

A man who retired early because he got tired of the papers categorizing him as a supercop, he's already allowed himself to be pulled back into the life once(THINK OF A NUMBER)and it very nearly cost him his life, endangering Madeleine as well.

He still feels the tug though.

When his ex-partner comes to him with a case, he's drawn in once more. His poartner had been pulled off the case for telling his boss that the direction the police were going in was wrong. He needs Gurney's unique talents on this one.

Here's the set-up: a young bride is found on her wedding day just before the toast, sitting in a chair in the gardener's cottage, decapitated with the head perched on a table facing the body. The gardener has disappeared, along with the neighbor's wife. Bloodhounds follow a trail into the woods for a hundred-fifty yards where a bloody machete is found. The trail also ends there.

The girl's mother insists on hiring Gurney to investigate, hang the cost, and find the murderer. She's not satisfied with police efforts.

As he digs into the case, Gurney learns some disturbing things about the young woman, her husband and his school for disturbed young women, i.e. sexual predators, themselves victims of incest and sexual abuse in younger days.
Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Different title, same story
For being such a smart guy gurney sure does some dumb and predictable stuff. This was much like the first gurney book and I probably won't read any more in the series.
Published 17 days ago by John McCleary
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
Shut your eyes tight grabs you from the very first page and keeps you interested till the last page. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Bjoyj
4.0 out of 5 stars Shut your eyes tight
This book is the second in the Dave gurney series of novels, troubled but brilliant retired murder detective lives en rural retirement with his understanding wife, but murders and... Read more
Published 27 days ago by David Christopher Hadfield
5.0 out of 5 stars Shut your eyes
Tight suspense. Beautifully written. Complex story with interesting twists. Highly recommended for fans of well scripted murder mysteries. Loved it.
Published 1 month ago by L. L. Fagan
5.0 out of 5 stars keep your eyes open
This is a great story, with a plot that continues to weave a complex tale. Dave Gurney is a complex character as well, and is supported by an excellent cast. Read more
Published 1 month ago by K. Becky
5.0 out of 5 stars Shut Your Eyes Tight
Although I think I liked the first Dave Gurney book a little better, this sequel will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's definitely worth a read.
Published 1 month ago by Worldwide Traveler
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
My new favorite author! Characters draw you in & keep you up all night. Layers of plot. Have preordered his newest book.
Published 1 month ago by TV and Book Lover
4.0 out of 5 stars An Entertaining Psychological Thriller from John Verdon
When Dave Gurney retired from the NYPD as a decorated homicide detective and moved to an isolated country farm, he thought he was putting his old life behind him. Read more
Published 1 month ago by James L. Thane
2.0 out of 5 stars Good characters, subject matter too disturbing
The lead character was interesting and parts of the plot decent, but overall, the disturbing subject matter turned me off. would not recommend
Published 2 months ago by Susan B RN
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one
I've real all Verdon's Dave Gurney novels now. One just as good as the other. Can't wait for the next one to come out.
Published 2 months ago by Ronni
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