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The Thousand Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 24, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Guilfoile (Cast of Shadows) ventures into Dan Brown territory in his mediocre second thriller. Thanks to a neurostimulator implant received as a child, Canada Gold can process information almost instantaneously, an ability that enables her to work as a jury consultant--and as a card counter. Canada still bears the psychic wounds from multiple traumas. Her father, Solomon, music director of the Chicago Symphony, was charged with the murder of his mistress, a cellist in his orchestra. After his acquittal, Solomon, who claimed to have reconstructed Mozart's intended ending for an unfinished composition, also was murdered. Canada's special gifts attract the attention of a shadowy cabal known as the Thousand, whose members are fanatical followers of the ancient Greek mathematician Pythagoras. The Thousand, of course, are behind many of the world's ills, such as the 9/11 attack and Hurricane Katrina, using "big disasters to disguise small crimes." Paper-thin characters and stock chase sequences make for a less than memorable read.
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“Guilfoile’s fast and furious new thriller… is jet-fueled by its author’s unerring sense of character and his nimble, fleet-footed prose.” —The New York Times
The Thousand is thrilling, intellectually stimulating, and has some of the most vivid characters in contemporary literature.” —Chicago Tribune 
“Canada Gold is an emotionally realistic superhero.” —Los Angeles Times
“A fast-paced thriller about perception, ambition, friendship, family, and the real powers that could rule our world.” —The Huffington Post

“A taut suspense thriller about a gifted girl and the ancient cult that wants to use her mental abilities for its own sketchy ends.” —Entertainment Weekly 
“Takes math team to a new level . . . . Comparisons to The Da Vinci Code are understandable, but The Thousand is less about the secret or the secret society than the dozen characters ensnared by it, characters strung out between the pursuit of power and self-preservation. . . . Humor is not lost in The Thousand, which has the sly repartee of people keeping secrets.” —Time Out Chicago
The Thousand, which involves Pythagoras, Mozart’s Requiem Mass, and intuitive art, shows Guilfoile’s in-depth knowledge of music, mathematics, history, pop culture and philosophy. Set in Chicago and Las Vegas, the new novel has every vivid detail down pat when it comes to the sights, smells and particularly the attitudes of the two cities.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Guilfoile has the amazing ability to create perfect order out of what should rightfully be utter chaos. . . . Pitch-perfect. . . . Truly special. . . . He’s managed to take heavy-hitting concepts like the relationship between math and magic . . . as well as the moral implications of advanced scientific research and testing and wrap them up in a package as enticing and thrilling as any Hollywood blockbuster; but more intelligent. . . . What The Da Vinci Code wants to be when it grows up . . . and it still won’t be close.” —Savannah Morning News
The Thousand is a deftly original conspiracy thriller . . . with roller-coaster pacing and cracking good characters. Canada Gold gives Lisbeth Salander a run for haute female warrior of the year.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“Even when I was otherwise occupied, I could not get The Thousand or its characters out of my mind. All I wanted to do was find a well-lit corner and read this riveting work, which is equal parts courtroom thriller, police procedural and antiquity hunt, with a dose of conspiracy and paranoia thrown in for good measure. And when I did, all else ceased to exist.” —Joe Harlaub,
“Reading The Thousand is . . . a little like riding a roller coaster blindfolded: You can never anticipate the book’s next hairpin turn, and it has enough steep drops to keep the adrenaline pumping.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Guilfoile’s intimate prose works well in developing a large cast of characters. . . . Guilfoile also offers a familiar and humorous portrait of the Windy City, mostly through the eyes of a weathered south-side cop who loves his work, his booze, Mr. Beef, and Columbia College coeds half his age.” —Chicago Reader

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (August 24, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400043093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400043095
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,420,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Gibbard on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
During the first 75 pages or so of "The Thousand," I was intrigued by Kevin Guilfoile's unusual approach to the metaphysical thriller. During the last 75, I felt disappointed by it.

I knew from the jacket that the book was going to be about a group of Pythagorean cultists who had operated behind the scenes in human history for the past 2500 years. I was eager to meet them. But Guilfoile seemed to be in no hurry to introduce these sinister string-pullers into the narrative. Instead, he spun subplots involving a Johnnie Cochran-style defense attorney, a talented violinist who had completed Mozart's unfinished requiem before he died, a security guard at a casino, and a woman named Canada Gold with almost supernatural sensory powers. All of this stuff was interesting and well-written, but where (I wondered) were the Pythagoreans?

As it turned out, the Pythagoreans were so peripheral to the narrative that at times they took on the aura of a MacGuffin, Alfred Hitchcock's name for a throw-away plot device. Throughout the book, Guilfoile mostly tells us about the Pythagoreans rather than showing them to us. Sure, a few of them make an appearance, but there's nothing really that interesting about them when they do. The interesting characters, in fact, are all non-Pythagorean. Imagine a Harry Potter book where most of the good characters are muggles and you never even arrive at Hogwarts, and you'll see what I found disappointing about this book.

My other beef about the book is there are two groups of these cultists, the acusmatici and the mathematici, who are at war with each other. To me, these names and the concepts behind them were a stumblingblock. I often found myself having to think hard about which group certain people belonged to and why it mattered.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Andrew G. Oh-Willeke on January 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"The Thousand" shares a genre with Dan Brown's intellectual history enhanced thrillers - Angels and Demons, the DaVinci Code, and the Lost Symbol, as well as a number of other recent thrillers featuring archaeologists or historians pursuing lost secrets of the past. It also share genre tropes with TV series like VR.5, Heroes, Lost, Kyle XY, the Bourne Identity, and even the X-Files, with the inner workings of secret society playing itself out as our protagonists propel themselves forward with a life or death interest in penetrating its secrets.

Dan Brown's novels are heavy on the art history and historical lacuna, but have flabby plots and flat characters. Guilfoile's characters, in contrast, are delightfully tragic, flawed and well fleshed out. Heroine Canada Gold's flawed mental health (she and her father had intense ADHD) and the flawed blessing of a cure that gives her extraordinary talents but fails to deliver friends, wealth or more than a modicum of happiness, make for fine psychological drama. Her late father's lawyer who is tormented at having exonorated a murderer, the middle aged self-destructing cop who won't let an old case go, and even bit characters like the succession of people who pick up Gold's hitchhiking boyfriend as he flees false murder charges, have great depth, delivered artfully and not a moment too soon.

But the plot device of the Pythagoreans fail to meet the test of Chekov's gun, that "one must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it." "The Thousand" promises us an answer to the question of why twenty-five hundred years ago, a thousand souls in an Italian village would give up their lives for this mystic mathematician. The scene is more fully realized on the book jacket than any place in the novel itself.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Gerrish on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To my annoyance, since I had other things that needed doing, I couldn't put this book down. Even with shadings from "The DaVinci Code" and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," along with a brief whisper of "Rosemary's Baby" during one critical phase (all books that I enjoyed), this story is an excellent thriller on its own.

There are those who have kept a secret for centuries, a secret that could destroy humanity if it were known. Among those descended from the original cult and who still keep the secret are two factions at war with each other, and Nada Gold is stuck between them. She is beautiful, lonely, an observational savant who probably has a photographic memory thanks to a neurotransmitter installed in her brain when she was a child.

There are those who would remove the transmitter to suit their own purposes. To Nada, that would be tantamount to performing a lobotomy. There are those who would protect Nada, those who love her and those who don't care if she dies. The real problem for Nada? She doesn't know who to trust.

This book is action-packed and never drags in the telling. It is complex, however, and more than once I asked myself, "Wait, who is that character again?" Recommended, though. And can't wait for the movie! (There will be a movie, right?)

UPDATE: I just read a review by Alex Berenson in the "New York Times," in which the reviewer expressed disappointment that the bad guys were revealed too early in the story, diluting the tension he might have felt.

A completely different reading experience for me. As Alfred Hitchcock well knew, the thrill isn't in the reveal of the bad guy, it's in knowing what potentially awaits the innnocents that makes for a good scare. It's not a perfect book -- agreed -- but as conspiracy-style thrillers go, it's a very good read. Enjoy!
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