I was lucky enough to be an early reader (and fan) of John Verdon's debut novel - Think of a Numb3r. (my review) I love getting in on the ground floor of a new series. His second book - Shut Your Eyes Tight (my review) - was just as good and proved that Verdon wasn't a one book wonder. The latest book in his Dave Gurney series - Let the Devil Sleep - was fantastic! John Verdon just gets better and better.
Retired NYPD Homicide Detective Dave Gurney has spent the last six months recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during his last attempt to bring down a serial killer. Yes, he's retired - but can't help himself - puzzles intrigue him and unsolved cases still call his name. He had the highest solve rate in the NYPD's history when he retired. But this time, he just can't seem to shake things off - he's out of sorts, short tempered with his ever patient wife Madeleine, can't stop worrying about his lingering symptoms and has no interest in doing anything. When Connie, an old journalist friend contacts him to ask a favour, he agrees out of a sense of obligation. Her daughter Kim is doing a series of interviews with families of the victims of a serial killer dubbed The Good Shepherd. Ten years ago, the killer targeted the wealthy, specifically those driving black Mercedes. The case remains unsolved and Kim would like to have him look over what she's doing with his cop's eye and give her feedback.
But a lot occurs in that one day - there's more going on with Kim than she initially mentioned. And the interviews and files on The Good Shepherd pique Gurney's interest. It is Madeleine who notes that Gurney has done more in a day than he has in months - and he's not worrying about his symptoms every five minutes. Slowly, but surely, Dave is hooked again. He believes the initial investigation was flawed.
In the beginning of the series, I wasn't sure what I thought about Gurney. But, as the series grows, so
does Dave. This time out, we get to meet his son Kyle, with whom Dave has a difficult relationship. Verdon explores this dynamic well, letting us get a view of Gurney beneath the controlled exterior. Gurney's enigmatic wife Madeleine continually intrigues me. Her love of nature, colour and life are in stark contrast to Gurney's pursuit of killers. What makes this marriage work? Verdon allows to see into this relationship a little more every time. Madeline is still my favourite supporting character. Another recurring character is Detective Jack Hartwick. The testy relationship between Jack and Dave is entertaining. I did find it hard to warm up to Kim; I found her to be manipulative and self centered.
So, the characters are great. What about the plot? Well, this is where Verdon shines. The plotting is impeccable, complex and devious. There are two plot lines running simultaneously - could they connected? Gurney's reasoning and thought processes were fascinating. I enjoyed the matching of wits between the FBI, their psychologist consultant and Dave. We get to reopen the case with Dave as he explores past files. However, the past is not content to stay buried and the tension, thrills and stakes are heightened as the killer puts Dave squarely in his line of sight. I had absolutely no idea whodunit until the last few pages. I love not being able to figure out the case until the end.
Just a great series. You could read any of the books as a stand alone, but I bet you'll be hunting down the other two! Read an excerpt of Let the Devil Sleep.
You can find John Verdon on Facebook.
See what others on the TLC tour thought. Full schedule here. And thanks the great folks at Crown Publishing, I have a copy of Let the Devil Sleep to giveaway. Open to US and Canada, no P.O. boxes please. Simply leave a comment (and a way for me to contact you) to be entered. Ends August 25/12.