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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,891 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: John Verdon Narrator: George Newbern Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Dave Gurney Series Release Date: July 2010 ISBN: 9780307715289
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The first book in the Dave Gurney series, Think of a Number is a heart-pounding game of cat and mouse that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates
 
Threatening letters arrive in the mail over a period of weeks, ending with a simple declaration: “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. But when oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle quickly ignite into a massive serial murder investigation, police are confronted with a baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air.
 
Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney, a recently retired NYPD homicide investigator, soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and he wonders if he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.
 
A work that defies easy labels--at once a propulsive masterpiece of suspense and an absorbing immersion in the lives of characters so real we seem to hear their heartbeats--Think of a Number is a novel you’ll not soon forget. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Mostly what makes this work is the intricate fabric that debut novelist Verdon weaves, as complications twist into what seems to be an impossible knot. Chicago Sun-Times
  • Good writing and good storytelling often aren’t the same thing. Verdon combines them masterfully...Here’s hoping Verdon has what it takes to churn out more books like this. Newark Star Ledger
  • Verdon’s brought back crimes of impossibility, starting with the titular parlor game trifle and escalating until we're deep into serial murder territory. Verdon is a master at controlling pace, illustrating the story of a rich but complicated marriage, pondering what it means to be sucked back into your life's work even if it might kill you, and demanding that the reader use his or her brain to figure out what comes next. When you're finished, you may not trust silly parlor games ever again. Salon
  • Savor the sense of loss that haunts this strong debut. Houston Chronicle
  • John Verdon has…created an incredible crime novel which could give Steig Larsson a run for his well-earned money…All of the characters are incredibly well developed…The descriptions of scenes make you feel like you are there, and the plot is brilliant. The Herald-Dispatch (West Virginia)
  • Will hook just about any reader…An astoundingly addictive work filled with real life characters that jump off the page into a daring and skillful plot, this book will leave you stumped and hungry for more…THINK OF A NUMBER excels in its interweaving of wonderful characterization and psychological Insight…[Verdon] has created a book for all readers, not just those who revel in the thriller genre. New York Journal of Books
  • The mystery is brilliantly executed…If you read only one thriller this year, make it THINK OF A NUMBER. Bookloons
  • Think of a number between one and ten…Now multiply that by zero. Which is how many times you’ll put this book down. Mystery Scene
  • The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon’s deft, literate debut. Publishers Weekly
  • Verdon’s superb debut novel is a riveting thriller with a wonderfully baffling crime. Think of a Number is a 10, and crime fans of almost every persuasion will love it. An outstanding debut. Thomas Gaughan, Booklist (Starred Review)
  • Addictive and thoroughly engrossing…In THINK OF A NUMBER, Verdon plays deliciously on our deepest, most primal fears, portraying a killer who seems to see right into people’s minds.  Few readers will be able to resist the lure of watching an unstoppable detective track an uncatchable killer.  This tale will grab hold of you like a steel jaw trap. Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of VANISHED
  • Verdon's premise is clever and his police work convincing, which right there might be enough; but the real joy of this book is its characters.  Each one, no matter how minor, is unique and beautifully observed.  THINK OF A NUMBER had me from the opening pages and carried me right along. S.J. Rozan, Edgar-winning author of THE SHANGHAI MOON
  • Spectacular and mind-bending, THINK OF A NUMBER is the best thriller I've read in a long, long time. John Verdon's writing is so polished, so nuanced, it makes me envious that I didn't write this terrific novel. Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of ICE COLD
  • With its edge-of-the-chair suspense, memorable characters that jump off the pages, and elegant and deft writing, John Verdon's THINK OF A NUMBER is a stunning debut. Faye Kellerman, New York Times bestseller author of STONE KISS and THE FORGOTTEN
  • John Verdon’s THINK OF A NUMBER is simply one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a lifetime of thriller reading -- eloquent, heart-rending, deeply suspenseful on many levels, and relentlessly intelligent.  The characters live and breathe, the plot is diabolically clever and airtight, and the prose is sublime.  Absolutely not to be missed! At one stroke, Verdon establishes himself as a bright star in the thriller firmament. John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of  THE SUSPECT, BETRAYAL and A PLAGUE OF SECRETS
  • “Remarkable…Verdon’s hero Dave Gurney is one for the ages.”

    David Baldacci

  • Just when you think the serial killer thriller has been done to death, someone comes along and revives it!  THINK OF A NUMBER is written with pace, style and intelligence. It has rounded characters, teasing puzzles, and lots of tension. The number I'm thinking of is 1! Reginald Hill, author of RULING PASSION and MIDNIGHT FUGUE and winner of the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • THINK OF A NUMBER is a subtle and intelligent thriller of the first order.  With his gripping premise, well-drawn characters, and relentless escalation of suspense, John Verdon has penned an exciting debut.  Don't miss it. Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of DIE FOR YOU
  • THINK OF A NUMBER is a dark, disturbing, and completely compelling debut.
    It's got menacing puzzles you won't be able to figure out, a villain who will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, and a wonderful main character in retired homicide cop Dave Gurney. The pages turn themselves.
    Spencer Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of DOG ON IT!
  • I loved this book. It’s at once familiar to thriller readers and something incredibly new. It’s a puzzle mystery and a police procedural and a cautionary tale about loss and love—the book literally has something for everyone, with a conclusion so eerily perfect it could have been scripted by Hitchcock himself. This is a thriller that will rewrite the rules of the genre. Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of OBEDIENCE
     

  • "[An] inventive and entertaining first thriller. The hard-edged characters and gritty plot recall Chandler's "mean streets," but the ornate puzzles laid before Verdon's detective might have challenged the "little grey cells" of Hercule Poirot. Washington Post

  • Mr. Verdon was an advertising executive who retired to upstate New York before deciding on a more artistic pursuit. And if THINK OF A NUMBER is any indication, he'll have no trouble forgetting about that day job. The transition couldn't be much smoother...Verdon is masterly at keeping Gurney [his protagonist] a step ahead of the reader [and] the murder itself is a pretty crafty piece of legerdemain....[The novel features] the kind of head-scratching setup that would get Sherlock Holmes off his cocaine [and] Gurney has the same precision, logic and thirst for clarity. New York Times
  • Verdon’s deftly written, erudite debut is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense. Portland Oregonian
  • THINK OF A NUMBER is truly unputdownable.  Rarely have I read a debut novel that has gripped me as this one has from the first page to the last.  This book doesn’t just entertain – it engages you and draws you immediately into the lives of the characters, who are as real as real can be.  John Verdon has written a flawless novel about flawed people and he’s written it beautifully.  I hope we see a lot more of John Verdon and his smart protagonist, Dave Gurney, in years to come. Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestseller author of THE LION’S GAME, THE GENERAL’S DAUGHTER and GOLD COAST
  • John Verdon's THINK OF A NUMBER is one of the finest thrillers I've read in years. I devoured it.  Consistently intelligent, fast-paced, filled with clever twists and psychological insight, and characters that come alive on every page, it entertains from the opening set-piece, right through the tension-filled ending. In a genre frequently and sadly known for delivering more of the same old familiar stuff, THINK OF A NUMBER stands out as original and exciting. If there were a line-up of upcoming mystery-thriller suspects,  I have little doubt that just about every witness would pick out THINK OF A NUMBER. John Katzenbach, New York Times bestselling author of THE TRAVELER, JUST CAUSE and HART’S WAR
  • “Addictive and thoroughly engrossing…In Think of a Number, Verdon plays deliciously on our deepest, most primal fears, portraying a killer who seems to see right into people’s minds.”

    Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling author of Vanished

  • “Spectacular and mind-bending, Think of a Number is the best thriller I’ve read in a long, long time. John Verdon’s writing is so polished, so nuanced, it makes me envious that I didn’t write this terrific novel.”

    Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Ice Cold

  • “With its edge-of-the-chair suspense, memorable characters that jump off the pages, and elegant and deft writing, John Verdon’s Think of a Number is a stunning debut.”

    Faye Kellerman, New York Times bestselling author of Stone Kiss

  • “This book doesn’t just entertain—it engages you and draws you immediately into the lives of the characters, who are as real as real can be.”

    Nelson DeMille, New York Times bestselling author of The Lion’s Game 

  • “Consistently intelligent, fast-paced, filled with clever twists and psychological insight, and characters that come alive on every page, it entertains from the opening set-piece, right through the tension-filled ending.”

    John Katzenbach, New York Times bestselling author of The Traveller

  • “The characters live and breathe, the plot is diabolically clever and airtight, and the prose is sublime. Absolutely not to be missed!”

    John Lescroart, New York Times bestselling author of  The Suspect

  • Think of a Number is a subtle and intelligent thriller of the first order.  With his gripping premise, well-drawn characters, and relentless escalation of suspense, John Verdon has penned an exciting debut.  Don’t miss it.”

    Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Die for You

  • “A dark, disturbing, and completely compelling debut.”

    Spencer Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Dog on It!

  • “[Think of a Number] a puzzle mystery and a police procedural and a cautionary tale about loss and love—the book literally has something for everyone, with a conclusion so eerily perfect it could have been scripted by Hitchcock himself. This is a thriller that will rewrite the rules of the genre.”

    Will Lavender, New York Times bestselling author of Obedience

  • “Verdon’s premise is clever and his police work convincing, which right there might be enough; but the real joy of this book is its characters. Each one, no matter how minor, is unique and beautifully observed.”

    S. J. Rozan, Edgar Award–winning author of The Shanghai Moon

  • Think of a Number is written with pace, style and intelligence.”

    Reginald Hill, winner of the Crime Writer’s Association Dagger Award for Lifetime Achievement

  • “[An] inventive and entertaining first thriller.”

    Washington Post

  • “Mostly what makes this work is the intricate fabric that debut novelist Verdon weaves, as complications twist into what seems to be an impossible knot.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  • “Verdon is a master at controlling pace, illustrating the story of a rich but complicated marriage, pondering what it means to be sucked back into your life’s work even if it might kill you, and demanding that the reader use his or her brain to figure out what comes next.”

    Salon

  • “Verdon’s deftly written, erudite debut is an exquisitely plotted novel of suspense.”

    Oregonian

  • “Savor the sense of loss that haunts this strong debut.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “Good writing and good storytelling often aren’t the same thing. Verdon combines them masterfully…Here’s hoping Verdon has what it takes to churn out more books like this.”

    Newark Star Ledger

  • “An incredible crime novel.”

    Herald-Dispatch (West Virginia)

  • “Will hook just about any reader…An astoundingly addictive work filled with real life characters that jump off the page into a daring and skillful plot, this book will leave you stumped and hungry for more.”

    New York Journal of Books

  • “The numbers game gets a murderous spin in Verdon’s deft, literate debut.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “An outstanding debut.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A 2011 Nero Award Nominee
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Selena Lang | 2/19/2014

    " Good first novel. Suspenseful and tricky mystery. Not crazy about the personal stuff in the book, Get a bit tired of angsty personal crap...I wonder why a retired cop can't just have normal problems...but the story was great - mystery hard to figure out until the end. looking forward to reading the next. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gatorman | 2/17/2014

    " I really liked this book. Even though the premise was a bit implausible, Verdon carried it off with great success. It was well-written and never went over the top for shocks or suspense. The main character was well-developed and the subplot with his marital issues and family tragedy gave the story some depth you don't always see in these stories, or seen handled as well. Can't give it 5 stars as the identity of the killer was no shock and could have been hidden better. However, it still was an excellent read and I will definitely catch the next one in the series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diane Schultz | 2/7/2014

    " The jury's still out. I've started his next book, but the relationship between Gurney and his wife, as they start their retirement years, is dark and depressing against a bucolic background. Now reading the next book, I'm struck of how this author's writing style is remind me of P.D. James, so this may be what the difference is from what I normally read. The mystery in Think of a Number is good, and I loved how it was resolved. Aces for that, and Dave Gurney (and his wife) are likeable characters. Well worth the read. Still, more of an English rather than American flavor to the novel, although it is written in the US (NY Catskills) and by an American I believe. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darin | 1/27/2014

    " I thought this was good--had a good plot. It bogged down at times for me, with Gurney's reflection on his son that died, and on other thoughts that didn't seem to have much to do with the story. His writing was very descriptive, though, which I enjoyed. The descriptions of the scenery really helped put me there. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Roxanne | 1/17/2014

    " There were interesting turns of plot in this book, and it was intelligent in a sense. Verdon kept in interesting with his variety of place, scene, and dynamics. Perhaps it just wasn't original enough. Or he didn't develop the characters enough. I'm not sure but it just didn't really grab me enough. Kind of flat. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Chisholm | 1/13/2014

    " Loved this book. I can't wait to read more of his books!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Konstantina Tsatsou | 1/11/2014

    " Breathtaking, with deep suspense and totally unexpected end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brenda B Birdow | 1/9/2014

    " Very thought provoking - really enjoyed trying to put the jagged puzzle pieces together as more seemingly unrelated murders occur. Quite a good read for a first time author. Interesting at the end to find out 'who done it' ! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 12/14/2013

    " Excellent debut thriller set in Upstate New York with a devilish and mischievous protagonist and a fascinating (retired) detective on his tail. I look forward to more from Verdon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Peter | 12/8/2013

    " this book is a dark mystery. for a first book i think its pretty good. the chacters and the plot are good. i recomend the book as i enjoyed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Nicole | 11/29/2013

    " If you love crimes and mystery you would love this book i love the suspense that it has and how at the end of every chapter you just become chock!! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laurie Gienapp | 9/18/2013

    " Excellent! Well written.. You can't help but try to figure out 'how it's done'... and when the author reveals it, he does so in such a way that you enjoy it -- whether you'd figured it out or not. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thomas | 11/27/2012

    " Great read. It took a little longer than usual for me to get hooked. The snails pace of the first three chapters was really kind of dull and almost hard to follow. Once someone dies, the rest of the book gets much better. Keeps you guessing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom | 8/23/2012

    " Excellent mystery, very well written. Interesting puzzles, and a well drawn character as the lead investigator. One of the best I've read recently. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura Beasley | 3/22/2012

    " Really good book and I look forward to reading the next one. The way the detective Gurney's mind works is amazing. The twists and turns and how everything related to each other and then came together at the end was very intersting. Kept you wanting to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Trisha | 9/13/2011

    " The book did start out as unique but I wasn't disappointed like Mom was since she warned me of the turn of events that disappointed her. I really enjoyed the whole book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ben Rand | 8/13/2011

    " Unusually good book in this category. That it's a first novel by this author is even more remarkable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alice | 6/24/2011

    " Great puzzle, excellent character development for detective and his wife. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 6/11/2011

    " A real page turner. It is a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott | 5/23/2011

    " Really enjoyed this book, it made you think, trying to work out the clues. the atmosphere was great and made you feel part of the story. The relation between husband and wife added a nice feel , as things don't always go as they should. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 5/13/2011

    " It took me a lot longer to get into the story than I thought it would. However sticking with it was worth the wait. I did enjoy the twist and figuring out how the killer set up the crime scene and did the little tricks with the numbers. Fun little thriller. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 5/11/2011

    " Wow. A fantastic debut Murder/Mystery from this talented accomplished writer. The best book that I have read in this genre. John Verdon goes to the top of my must read list and hopefully he will have another book on the shelves soon. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Autumn | 5/10/2011

    " I thought it was a fairly decent police procedural. However, I did find myself fussing at the audiobook as I was driving around. I guess I had a better memory than Dave did :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 5/9/2011

    " really good, intriguing plot. different. page-turner. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Neil | 4/20/2011

    " Too complicated for a light and easy read, all those numbers and codes, I read several of the first chapters I then skimmed the rest of the book, not the greatest book I have ever read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 4/16/2011

    " A real page turner. It is a good read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tess | 4/12/2011

    " Literally could not put this book down. Would have read it in one sitting, but I had to sleep for a few hours. Excellent debut! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kate | 4/6/2011

    " Suspense, thriller ... a serial killer taunting the police with
    puzzling clues. A "catch me if you can" game. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Margaret | 4/5/2011

    " I won this in the giveaway section but it got lost in the post so I ordered it from the library. It's overwritten - especially at the start and I guessed the twists but it's OK. The hero and setting are more interesting than usual. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maryann | 4/4/2011

    " Well written mystery thriller maybe just a tad slow at grabbing me in the beginning but soon I couldn't put it down. Husband liked it also. It was fun trying to guess who 'done' it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug | 3/31/2011

    " Started really slow and story was slow to build, but once the "hook" was set, it became much more interesting. As I progressed along, I found it harder and harder to put down. In the end, I was VERY satisfied. It is a "good read." "

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About the Author
Author John Verdon

John Verdon is the author of the Dave Gurney series of thrillers, international bestsellers published in more than two dozen languages. Before becoming a crime fiction writer, he had two previous careers as an advertising creative director and a custom furniture maker.

About the Narrator

George Newbern is an Earphones Award–winning narrator and a television and film actor best known for his roles as Brian MacKenzie in Father of the Bride and Father of the Bride Part II, as well as Danny in Friends. As a voice actor, he is notable for his role as Superman on the Cartoon Newtork series Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. He has guest starred on many television series, including Scandal, The Mentalist, Private Practice, CSI: Miami, and Numb3rs. He holds a BA in theater arts from Northwestern University.