Dave Gurney

Created by John Verdon

For someone who is not a locked room or impossible crime buff, Think of a Number (2010), the first in a popular series featuring DAVE GURNEY, a retired NYC homicide dick, was one hell of an introduction. It’s a genre that’s easy to make fun of (and I have), but it’s actually very hard to pull off convincingly. But Verdon pulls it off with style and pizazz.

But even beyond the sleight-of-hand plotting and the impossible crime gimmick, there’s plenty to enjoy in this series, not the least of which is some great regional color (Dave now works as an investigative “consultant” in the Catskills) and some terrific marital scenes between the introspective Dave and his long-suffering wife Madeleine, as Dave tries to figure out a bizarre string of murders. People are receiving letters in the mail, challenging them to “think of a number.” When they do, they open the second part of the letter and discover–ta-dah!–that their number has been predicted. But then later, they’re murdered.

And you thought spam was bad? Dave has since reappeared in several more books, each featuring some truly bizarre crimes, including one which revolves around a bride found decapitated on her wedding day in a building that no one had access to, one in which four people in different parts of the country all have the same disturbing dream, involving a bloody dagger with a carved wolf’s head on the handle (all four are subsequently found with their wrists cut–apparent suicides) and the latest, On Harrow Hill (2021), which just might involve… zombies?


  • “John Verdon writes grown–up detective novels, by which I mean stories with intelligent plots, well–developed characters and crimes that have social consequences. White River Burning, featuring the author’s brainy gumshoe–for–hire, Dave Gurney, checks all these boxes.”
    — The New York Times Book Review



Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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