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Shut Your Eyes Tight (Dave Gurney, No. 2): A Novel (A Dave Gurney Novel) Paperback – June 26, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the A Dave Gurney Novel Series

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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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Taut and suspenseful…Verdon is in top form as he lays out the twisty mechanics of the crime, creating an agreeably sinister villain…A strong follow-up to the author’s wildly entertaining debut.”--Washington Post

“The crime is grisly and the cop is complicated. A nice combination.”--New York Daily News

“For anyone who loves a good puzzle, John's Verdon's SHUT YOUR EYES TIGHT is the easy answer.”--CNN.com

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

"Absorbing complications, perfect pacing and a conflicted protagonist (endearing for his introspection)...The author's insight, which imbues the story with tremendous humanity, make this a must-read for thriller fans who enjoy tales that are not only gripping but believable." Library Journal (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

  • Series: A Dave Gurney Novel
  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770435564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770435561
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #176,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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.
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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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