Summary: When he was the NYPD’s top homicide investigator, Dave Gurney was never comfortable with the label the press gave him: super detective. He was simply a man who, when faced with a puzzle, wanted to know. He was called to the investigative hunt by the presumptuous arrogance of murderers – by their smug belief that they could kill without leaving a trace. There was always a trace, Gurney believed.
Except what if one day there wasn’t?
Dave Gurney, a few months past the Mellery case that pulled him out of retirement and then nearly killed him, is trying once again to adjust to his country house’s bucolic rhythms when he receives a call about a case so seductively bewildering that the thought of not looking into it seems unimaginable—even if his beloved wife, Madeleine, would rather he do anything but.
The facts of what has occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated, her head apparently severed by a machete. Though police investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed the young woman in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother—a chilly high-society beauty—is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre.
Underneath it all may exist one of the darkest criminal schemes imaginable. And as Gurney begins deciphering its grotesque outlines, some of his most cherished assumptions about himself are challenged, causing him to stare into an abyss so deep that it threatens to swallow not just him but Madeleine, too.
Desperate to protect Madeleine and bring an end to the madness, Gurney ultimately discovers that the killer has left a trace after all. Unfortunately, the revelation may come too late to save his own life.
Review: I received John Verdon's first novel, Think of a Number, from a publicist to review and I was seriously impressed (my review), so much so that I lent it to Julie (Julie's review). I was pleased to find out Shut Your Eyes Tight was going to be another Dave Gurney book. I was even more excited to discover that this second installment is just as good as the first.
It's been about a year since Dave's last venture out of retirement that nearly got him killed... And he's starting to get restless again. So when Detective Hardwick asks him to look into a murder investigation that he thinks his department botched, Dave's need to solve the puzzle gets the better of him, much to his wife's chagrin.
The mystery is seriously intriguing, and while I did find the murderer before Dave Gurney, I definitely only had glimpses of the rest of the puzzle pieces. The murder has taken place in a wealthy community where nothing is what it seems, a Stepford-like group. It is a fantastic and disturbingly wild ride. There is a plethora of characters all of them interesting and twisted, but their weren't so many characters that the reader felt overwhelmed. The only drawback is Dave's wife Madeline. Madeline seemed to think that retiring and moving to the country would make Dave a different person. But solving puzzles is what he enjoys, and she can't expect him to just work in the garden and go for hikes. One of my favorite lines from the 1955 movie of Guys and Dolls kept coming to mind,
“A guy doesn't want to feel like a piece of dress material that a woman's going to cut up and sew according to however they're wearing husbands this year.”
Madeline expects Dave to take an interest in what she's doing, but takes no interest in what he likes to do, which is horribly evident at a very uncomfortable dinner party. Despite the fact that she does see the error of her ways eventually, I have a feeling this relationship may not last.
I don't want to say too much more and spoil the mystery, but I think John Verdon's books are great for the crime reader who thinks they've 'seen it all'. It is a fabulous series that I keep to savor. I look forward to more marvelous mysteries from Mr. Verdon... and I highly recommend starting with Think of a Number.
Final Take: 4.5/5