Book Review: Think of a Number by John Verdon

think of

Rating: 3.5 / 5


Retired NYPD investigator David Gurney receives a mysterious call from a high school acquaintance regarding a taunting letter.  Although death has not been threatened, the fact that the killer knows so much about his target is frightening.  Events quickly escalate when the body count starts rising, all in conjunction with this mysterious killer who seems to be able to mind read.


The mystery aspect of the novel was stellar.  The first quarter was slow, but somewhere around the middle, things quickly built up and I couldn’t put the book down.  I was completely baffled with the killer’s motives and execution, and can truly say that Verdon has the suspense concept down pat.

While Gurney is not immediately nor immensely likable, Verdon has portrayed him as real, with flaws and personality tics that readers can relate to. He has trouble with the concept of retirement, to the detriment of his marriage, and is borderline obsessive-compulsive in his quest for serial killers.

The subplot with the underlying tension between Gurney and his wife Madeleine was vague and undeveloped.  There was no groundwork for this thread, and it felt like this was a sequel, where the reader had to have a previous novel to fully understand the dynamics between Dave and Madeleine.  Both are fairly passive-aggressive towards each other, and while I understand the concept of this to give Gurney’s personality more dimension and depth, it seemed like this should have been more fully developed, or given a minute role.  Hopefully, Gurney’s son Kyle takes a prominent role in subsequent Gurney installments, otherwise I don’t understand Verdon bringing him up here.

I really enjoyed the mystery and the novel had enough twists and cliffhangers to keep me turning the pages.  I am interested in seeing how Verdon continues developing Gurney in his subsequent books.

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