Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

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.





20 comments:

kathy d. said...

What a dilemma! A good bit of writing with sick characters and what sounds like morbid and violent plot twists.

Not my thing, but I am thinking of reading his first book which your post reminds me to read.

Lesa said...

It is a dilemma, kathy. Here's the good thing. I'm reading a terrific traditional mystery to review tomorrow.

Marce said...

This one sounds so good, I have got to pick up the 1st one. Sick, creepy, puzzle, I am so on to this one. Maybe I will read the 2 books together, hmmm

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I'm such a chicken that I wouldn't be able to stomach it...but it sounds like an amazing read for braver readers!

Liz V. said...

My stamina for graphic violence or twisted minds seems to be low, despite (or perhaps because of) reading two of the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Think I'll pass on Think of a Number and Shut Your Eyes Tight. Thanks for the warning.

Lesa said...

I totally understand, Elizabeth. I have a book tomorrow that might be more your cup of tea. (Or, maybe I should say, coffee.)

Lesa said...

I have to admit, Liz, I'm getting a little tired of them. I think I'm going to back off for a while.

Lesa said...

Marce,

You crack me up. Sick, creepy, puzzle. You're going to love these books!

caite said...

I think you liked it more than I did...the endless talk about his marriage got on my nerves.

Karen C said...

I like reading these kind of thrillers periodically. Do I need to read Think of a Number first in order to fully understand Dave Gurney?

Lesa said...

I was a little exasperated with Madeleine in this one,Caite, but I think the state of his marriage is one of the important parts of the book.

Lesa said...

You don't have to have read the earlier one, Karen, but it helps. I'm afraid, though, since I read the other one a year ago, I couldn't remember much about the earlier case. So, it really doesn't matter. I was almost as in the dark about that one as you will be.

kathy d. said...

Is Think of a Number this sick and creepy? I was fascinated by the puzzle involving numbers when I read about the book.

I'm reading a book set in Brazil now, good story, characters, not creepy. But the violence kept me up all night one night this week, did not get one minute of sleep.

I have to remember if I read anything like this, it can't be late at night and I have to skip the graphic violence.

That's how I read Vol. I and II of Stieg Larsson's trilogy, just skimmed or skipped over some paragraphs or sections that were too much. When I watched the movies of those volumes, I walked out of the room or fast-forwarded through them.

Everyone has their own tolerance level for this sort of writing. I don't get the creepy, sick stuff though. Why is it necessary? We can read about a murder and a villain and use our imaginations. Hints, clues, references can be given without vivid descriptions.

heathertlc said...

I like that the author continues to developed the story between the detective and his wife.

Thanks for being a part of the tour.

stacybuckeye said...

I really liked this one,too, for the same reasons you did. Gurney is such a great character. I did find the graphic storyline very icky and was hoping it would resove itself so I didn't have to read anymore about it!

Lesa said...

kathy d. - You were reading Leighton Gage's book, weren't you? I love his books, but you do have to be prepared for the graphic violence. I agree. It's better to not read the books late at night.

Lesa said...

I did like to see Gurney's character develop, Heather. But, I've had enough of the very graphic violence for right now. I need a few traditional mysteries.

Lesa said...

Stacy,

I love your phrasing of that, "You were hoping it would remove itself." Liked the characters, not the violence.

Anonymous said...

It's January 2, 2014 in Tasmania, and I've begun this book. O.K. so far, but I've been driven crazy by a total slip-up by the editor and/or proofreader in Chapter 12."...Hector Flores...was working in and around the house seven days a week ......In late August he asked if.....he might be allowed to occupy a small.... cottage on the days he was here. ....I agreed,....he began living in it, approximately four days a week...." Huh? Seven days becomes four? - This jumped out at me - how unbelievably careless of the author, proof-reader and editor....so disappointing. Otherwise, the book looks good thus far....Carol Brill,
Tasmania.

Lesa said...

Carol, I hope you enjoy the rest of the book, and don't let an error bother you. It's been so long since I read it that I really can't comment, unless Hector was only living there part of the week. It did say on the days he was there, so maybe he was only there four days a week.