Heads you lose,
This review is from: Shut Your Eyes Tight (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)To get the praise out the way first, I rather liked this.
The second novel from John Verdon is another starring vehicle for former high flying NYPD detective Dave Gurney (a man who uses a sardine tin as an ashtray in his car), now retired to a 50-acre farm in the Catskill mountains with his second wife, and whose biggest problem is his asparagus field and mending the brakes on his wife's bicycle. An idyllic life, one might presume. Nevertheless, it's a life not without its own shortcomings, particularly his spouse who doesn't feel as if they actually do things together, which is a sub story. Another problem is an ex-colleague who appears on his doorstep with details of a rather grisly murder in which a bride doesn't envisage a wedding present with a difference; that of getting her head chopped off. As no one is getting anywhere with the murder, the colleague wonders if he (Gurney) might be interested in doing a bit of surreptitious investigation.
It takes a while to get up and running but that only increases the drama and Verdon's descriptions of the characters, the surroundings, and what's happening is good enough to put you right there. That it has taken four months from the time of the incident, and neither the original investigating officer nor his replacement has progressed, suggests that it isn't as clear-cut as may first appear, though the motley crew of characters doesn't help.
There are a couple of chapters that may appear unnecessary at first, particularly the one where Gurney instructs a classroom on undercover work telling them it's what you discover that is relevant, not what you're told, but it all makes sense later on. That it makes you wonder what newly introduced characters have to do with the narrative is the sign of a decent tale. Yes, it may seem as if the author is rambling when describing the flora and fauna, etc. and the protagonists innumerable car journeys but it's all part of the overall feel of the locations and does add to what`s going on. (In addition, think how many pages a novel would be if none of this supposedly superfluous text was included.)
One problem readers may have with this is the constant reference to `the Mellery case', an investigation undertaken by Gurney in his previous outing. I haven't read the author's other book, so had no idea what everyone was on about. To expand on what happened in a previous book would not only increase the page count to unmanageable portions, but also confuse the reader; it would be best not to mention it at all.
To counter that negative is the way the chapters continue from the last one and the way there could have been at least half a dozen suspects. Though the ending seemed to be a bit rushed, it was something I hadn't seen coming. I kept changing my mind as to who the perpetrator was, which is the sign of a good read. The reason why the bride ended up as she did and her background may shock some and be a bit too much for others, but it will certainly make you question what really goes on in the places involved.