Sunday, 19 September 2010

Book Review - Think of a Number

Think of a Number is John Verdon's first novel, a thriller with a retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney as its chief protagonist, up against a killer who seems to be able to read his victims' minds.  He first writes to them, tells them to think of a number, and encloses a second envelope inside the first with the number they thought of inside it.  So far so interesting, but I did have a few problems with this book.  The first is that I guessed who the killer was way too soon, and I just hate that.  I like writers to be cleverer than I am, especially in a thriller.  The second is the way that it's written.  I wanted to scream 'STOP TELLING ME EVERYTHING AND JUST SHOW ME IT INSTEAD!'.  Gurney's every thought seems to be explained and analysed to the point of tedium. It would have been far more effective to let the reader decipher the character for themselves from his words and actions and would have been far more immediate and interesting.  Another irritation is that everything is told from the point of view of Gurney; the other characters, especially his saintly wife became little more than ciphers.  In fact his wife seems to do little apart from drift about in an orange parka or pick up her knitting now and again.  If John Verdon writes another thriller I'd give him a second chance and read it, as Number isn't a bad book and it kept me turning the pages.  Before he does however, I do hope someone gives him pointers on how to construct a wonderfully complex and intelligent thriller, reading R J Ellory's A Simple Act of Violence would be a great place to start.

1 comment:

Rural View said...

The first rule of good writing: show, don't tell. This sounds maddening.


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