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CR3 #60: Think of a Number by John Verdon

(Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Crown Publishing Group in a giveaway through Goodreads.com.)

Dave Gurney was a superstar detective in NYC homicide. He was well-known for his work putting dangerous serial killers away, but now he's retired and has moved to the countryside. He fills his time with his new hobby--despised by his wife, Madeleine--of doing digitally enhanced portraits of the serial killers he's put away. Life is going along quietly until one day he receives a call from a college friend he hasn't spoken to in 25 years. The friend has been receiving some strange, threatening notes in the mail, and is more than a little worried about his own safety. As it turns out, he's right to be.

Eventually, Dave finds himself getting more and more involved in the case, both due to concern for his friend and because he misses the joy of detection. The criminal is the smartest Gurney has ever encountered, and catching him is going to take every ounce of intelligence and experience Dave possesses.

The plot of this book was great and moved along quickly. The case was interesting, and the clues were intriguing. I really enjoyed the character of Dave, particularly watching the way his mind was organizing and analysing things. There were also some good side characters, like Detective Hardwick, a foul-mouthed veteran of the local homicide department, and Mr. Spline, the local DA with political aspirations. They were all well drawn (if occasionally a little two-dimensional) and I liked them. The only character I absolutely couldn't stand was Gurney's wife, Madeleine. She spends 99% of the book as a relentless, passive-aggressive harpy, and I was hoping she'd end up murdered so I wouldn't have to listen to her obnoxious and ceaseless sighing. Utterly horrible. Without her, I think the book would have been even better than it was.

On the whole, this is a great, quick-moving mystery novel with good characters and an exciting plot. I'd definitely recommend it.

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