A year ago, I reviewed John Verdon's debut thriller, Think of a Number, saying it's a thriller, but it's also the story of the detective, Dave Gurney. I'll reiterate that about Verdon's latest book, Shut Your Eyes Tight. Fans of graphic thrillers may read it for that aspect. Those of us who like puzzles, and are enthralled with complicated characters will read it for Gurney, his thought processes, and his complicated relationship with his wife, Madeleine. I might have stopped reading this creepy thriller before the end if I hadn't been caught up in Gurney's investigation.
Gurney retired in his late forties, after a successful career as a NYPD detective. His wife finds their country life peaceful, a refuge. Gurney was restless, but the one case he had taken after his retirement had threatened his marriage. However, when Jack Hardwick, a crusty NYPD detective brought him another complicated puzzle, Dave was caught up almost immediately. "The truth was that he was drawn, almost physically, to criminal mysteries and the process of exploring the people behind them." So, despite Madeleine's opposition, Gurney agreed to do a little consulting on the case of "The Butchered Bride."
Four months earlier, a young bride had been found beheaded in a cottage immediately after her wedding to a prominent psychiatrist. Suspicion fell on the Mexican gardener, who disappeared, supposedly with the neighbor's wife. But, Jillian's mother felt the police handling of the case had been botched, and she turned to Dave to pry into the case and find the missing gardener. As a compromise with his wife, Gurney promises to investigate for two weeks, but it's two weeks that will test Gurney's marriage as he finds himself drawn into a gritty world of sexual abuse, sick young women with tortured lives, and murder.
Here's a warning. At times, Verdon's Shut Your Eyes Tight, can be very graphic, and some of the characters are very sick. At the same time, Verdon's writing has tightened up, and there are very few wasted words. It's a complicated story, very twisted, and I haven't you given many details. That was done on purpose because readers need to start at the beginning with Dave Gurney's thought processes. Gurney IS this story. It's his thought processes, his life, that drive this story. Readers need to follow him down the twisted path to the solution of this mystery. "Madeleine had once told him that his life had narrowed down to one obsessive pursuit: unraveling the mysteries of other people's deaths. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing less." Dave Gurney is one of the most interesting sleuths in today's thrillers.
If you want a complex, multi-layered puzzle, with a hero as complicated as the story itself, you might want to pick up John Verdon's Shut Your Eyes Tight.
Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon. Crown. ©2011. ISBN 9780307717894 (hardcover), 528p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy of the book in order to participate in the TLC Blog Tour for this book.