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Think of a Number (Dave Gurney, No.1): A Novel Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 517 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the A Dave Gurney Novel Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Baldacci Reviews Think of a Number

David Baldacci was born in Virginia, in 1960, where he currently resides. He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Commonwealth University and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Mr. Baldacci practiced law for nine years in Washington, D.C., as both a trial and corporate attorney. He has published seventeen novels. Read his review of Think of a Number below:

John Verdon has done something remarkable in his debut thriller, Think of a Number. He has successfully juggled every storytelling ball, character, atmosphere, prose, pace and plot, with the skill and assuredness of a veteran novelist at the top of his game. The writing is haunting and quotable, the twists expertly placed and infinitely plausible, the conjured locations vivid and memorable, the characters full of depth and promise. You can read the book as a game of cat and mouse, a ride of chilling suspense, or a literary repast, since it provides all in abundance. In the novel the set-up provides an intriguing dilemma. A man gets a letter that scares him to death by challenging him to think of a number. That catalyst soon speeds the reader and Verdon’s hero, Dave Gurney, a legendary and now retired NYPD detective, headlong into a mystery of the first order. I’m pretty adept at figuring out these types of stories and while I hit on a few twists before Verdon probably wanted me to, the major ones were stunning surprises. I read the last two-hundred pages in one sitting. I did this for two compelling reasons. First, to find out what the hell was going on. And second, just to enjoy the wonderful writing. Some novelists promise plot and pace and deliver it with lightweight characters and silly dialogue. Others get the characters spot-on but the story is mediocre and predictable. Verdon nails it all in his first novel. The villain is appealingly terrifying, smart and cunning while operating mostly in absentia, and that is incredibly difficult to accomplish. The answer behind the “think of a number” plot, most certainly a disaster in lesser hands, proves clever, winning and eminently believable. 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.

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

From Publishers Weekly

The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon's deft, literate debut. Recently retired NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney is an old warhorse much too easily led to water, in the view of his increasingly disenchanted wife, who insists it's now me-time. But it surprises neither of them that Gurney snaps at the lure when a beleaguered friend sets before him a tasty, number-driven puzzle. Mark Mellery has been receiving mysterious mailings that terrify him because he's convinced the author of them can somehow read his mind, and because the mailings threaten his death for crimes he can't recall having committed. Nor is Mellery the only one, it soon become evident, as a particularly malignant serial killer buckles down to business. Ever the puzzle master, Gurney tracks and unravels each clue until—in an attenuated denouement that constitutes one of this thriller's rare self-indulgences—he finally makes the numbers add up. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307715272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307715272
  • ASIN: 0307715272
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (517 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,213,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Giuliano Reali on July 27, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am going to make this a brief but hopefully helpful review. Actually, I am not even going to say if the book is good or bad, considering how subjective that is. I am simply going to make a couple of points and then let you draw your own conclusions:

1) While I consider myself an intelligent person, when it comes to these mystery books I must admit that I'm very "slow", usually I don't figure out who the killer is until it is thrown right at my face. Lame, I know. The reason I am saying this is that while reading this book I managed to pick up on the mystery way before the "brilliant" Detective Gurney. Considering my usual ineptitude to solve mysteries, this is saying a lot.

2) The main character, Detective David Gurney, is made out to be a brilliant cop, almost a genius of superior intellect. However, throughout the book he is outsmarted by his wife several times, and he makes those mistakes that have you slap your forehead in disbelief. I have to say, I automatically disqualify any book that has its hero make those forehead-slapping mistakes that make me roll my eyes. Really, to me that is a deal breaker. If anyone had told me I would find that in this book, it would have been enough to prevent me from buying it. So if you are like me and don't like having your intelligence underestimated, I suggest you look elsewhere. If you are able to overlook that, you may find this book quite passable.

Well, this was not as short as I planned, but I hope it helps!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Edward X Delaney has long been my favorite detective in a crime fiction series. Until now....Allow me to introduce Dave Gurney, Ret. NYPD Detective, famous for catching serial killers, now the main character in "Think of a Number," by first-time novelist John Verdon.

Advice to Mr. Verdon: Keep those Gurney books coming. You've got a long, bright future with this character, his driven nature, and his smart wife. Can you tell I loved this book?!

So how does Dave Gurney compare with Det. Delaney? Gurney does not eat drippy tomato sandwiches over the kitchen sink nor does he drink exotic liquors or beers. But both men are very methodical, very minute in first figuring out how the murder was done, then finding the killer. Delaney had a dying wife, but Gurney has a very smart one. In fact, on at least two occasions, she provides the key to discovering the mystery behind two of the murders.

What Lawrence Sanders does in the Deadly Sins series and Verdon in this (hopefully) new Gurney series is give the reader very human detectives with positive traits and negative ones. Gurney is very rational, logical, number-driven, and possessing a powerful work ethic that won't rest until the murder is solved and the murderer arrested.

"Think of a Number" is doubly tricky. What would you do if a mysterious letter arrived and the contents indicated that the writer knew of your secret history and could identify a number that he asks you to randomly pick right then. And voila! The number in the second envelope is exactly the wild, random number you picked out of 1000. Your number is 658; the number in the second envelope is 658. How in the world!!? And how does he know your past. You continue to receive communications from this unknown person, each more ominous.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dave Gurney is a retired (at age 47), much decorated police officer. The author never adequately explains how, in his short career, Gurney manages to solve so many serial killings, but never mind. He's pulled into what turns out to be yet another serial killer's doings by an old college acquaintance who receives poems involving numbers.

There is much in this book that is quite clever, and I enjoyed the writing. But there are too many subplots that just dangle, never resolved. There are obvious leads that are never explored. There are faux-rensics (fake forensics), improper police procedures for the jurisdictions written about; for example, local police conducting murder investigations. I won't go into detail because I hate a spoiler, but suffice to say the better writers in this genre get the details right. This is yet another CSI-style detective novel with not enough underlying research.

On a side note, I bought this because it was advertised by the publishing house as having a tremendous sale price. I liked the write up, and the reviews looked very strong. Boy, was I fooled. I could have done much better for my money. It should have been free.
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Format: Hardcover
It starts well enough: threatening poems, 'psychic' stalker, terrorized victim, gruesome death.

But implausibilities pile up. Starting with, for example, the evocative phrase 'Think of a number'. It should have led the master detective to investigate mind-reading tricks even before the first murder. But then he would have solved the crime quickly and it would have been a short book.

Which it definitely is not. Dozens of pages are wasted in unbearably dull conference room scenes, dozens more in tedious marital drama, and dozens more in the master detective's self-involved ruminations while driving around.

There is very little actual police work. Obvious questions are never asked. Lines of inquiry which would have found the killer are avoided. There is little action.

The climax is preposterous.
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