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Shut Your Eyes Tight by John Verdon

A breathtaking thriller in which retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney can’t resist involving himself in the grisly case of a decapitated bride even as the case threatens his personal life.

Retired NYPD Detective Dave Gurney lives in the Catskills with his wife, Madeleine, trying to adjust to their new life and learn to appreciate nature. Madeleine is content, but Gurney can’t seem to halt his obsession with criminal investigations, so when a former colleague offers him the sensational case of a decapitated bride connected to a bevy of juvenile sex offenders and an international crime family, he can’t resist. The seemingly impossible and horrifying details fascinate him. Gurney ends up endangering himself and threatening his relationship with Madeleine, who resents the gruesome menace he brings home.

The case of the murdered bride expands and contorts to involve sexual psychology and sexual abuse, and is complicated by police forces so bent on thwarting one another that they seem willing to risk the case itself. The puzzle of the murder mystery, in which we participate alongside Gurney, is suspenseful and challenging, and as a psychological thriller keeps the reader breathlessly turning the pages.

Gurney is a likable character, tortured by his own past, and conflicted in his view of himself as a talented detective but an imperfect husband and father. He worries that he may be uncomfortably similar to the sociopaths he hunts: incapable of compassion and caring, more concerned with the chase than with his family. The reader sympathizes, however, as he grows into a fully developed man, battling an evil that increases as the story progresses, until the suspense and fear come together in a final heart-stopping crescendo.


This review originally ran in the July 22, 2011 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish fun!

2 Responses

  1. EXCELLENT review, Julia. Thank you. 😀

    I’m don’t usually read thrillers, but this one looks interesting.

  2. Thank you!

    I enjoyed this book. I read it (and wrote this review) at least a month ago, I think, but I was thinking of it just the other day; it’s stayed with me. I think that’s a positive vote in itself.

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