John Verdon books in order
- Think of a Number (2010)
- Shut Your Eyes Tight (2011)
- Let the Devil Sleep (2012)
- Peter Pan Must Die (2013)
- Wolf Lake (2016)
- White River Burning (2018)
- On Harrow Hil (2021)
- The Viper (2023)
Detailed book overview
Threatening letters arrive in the mail over a period of weeks, ending with a simple declaration: “Think of any number . . . picture it . . . now see how well I know your secrets.”
Those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. But when oddities that begin as a diverting puzzle quickly ignite into a massive serial murder investigation, police are confronted with a baffling killer, one who is fond of rhymes filled with threats and warnings, whose attention to detail is unprecedented, and who has an uncanny knack for disappearing into thin air.
Brought in as an investigative consultant, Dave Gurney, a recently retired NYPD homicide investigator, soon accomplishes deductive breakthroughs that leave local police in awe. Yet, even as he matches wits with his seemingly clairvoyant opponent, Gurney’s tragedy-marred past rises up to haunt him, his marriage approaches a dangerous precipice, and he wonders if he’s met an adversary who can’t be stopped.
Dave Gurney, a few months past the Mellery case that pulled him out of retirement and then nearly killed him, is trying once again to adjust to his country house’s bucolic rhythms when he receives a call about a case so seductively bewildering that the thought of not looking into it seems unimaginable—even if his beloved wife, Madeleine, would rather he do anything but.
The facts of what has occurred are horrible: a blushing bride, newly wed to an eminent psychiatrist and just minutes from hearing her congratulatory toast, is found decapitated, her head apparently severed by a machete. Though police investigators believe that a Mexican gardener killed the young woman in a fit of jealous fury, the victim’s mother—a chilly high-society beauty—is having none of it. Reluctantly drawn in, Dave is quickly buffeted by a series of revelations that transform the bizarrely monstrous into the monstrously bizarre.
Underneath it all may exist one of the darkest criminal schemes imaginable. And as Gurney begins deciphering its grotesque outlines, some of his most cherished assumptions about himself are challenged, causing him to stare into an abyss so deep that it threatens to swallow not just him, but Madeleine, too.
The most decorated homicide detective in NYPD history, Dave Gurney is still trying to adjust to his life of quasi-retirement in upstate New York when a young woman who is producing a documentary on an infamous murder spree seeks his counsel. Soon after, Gurney begins feeling threatened: a razor-sharp hunting arrow lands in his yard, and he narrowly escapes serious injury in a booby-trapped basement.
As things grow more bizarre, he finds himself reexamining the case of The Good Shepherd, which ten years before involved a series of roadside shootings and a rage-against-the-rich manifesto. The killings ceased, and a cult of analysis grew up around the case with a consensus opinion that no one would dream of challenging—no one, that is, but Dave Gurney.
Mocked even by some who’d been his allies in previous investigations, Gurney realizes that the killer is too clever to ever be found. The only gambit that may make sense is also the most dangerous—to make himself a target and get the killer to come to him.
The daunting task that confronts Gurney, once the NYPD’s top homicide cop: determining the guilt or innocence of a woman already convicted of shooting her charismatic politician husband -- who was felled by a rifle bullet to the brain while delivering the eulogy at his own mother’s funeral.
Peeling back the layers, Gurney quickly finds himself waging a dangerous battle of wits with a thoroughly corrupt investigator, a disturbingly cordial mob boss, a gorgeous young temptress, and a bizarre assassin whose child-like appearance has earned him the nickname Peter Pan.
Startling twists and turns occur in rapid-fire sequence, and soon Gurney is locked inside one of the darkest cases of his career – one in which multiple murders are merely the deceptive surface under which rests a scaffolding of pure evil. Beneath the tangle of poisonous lies, Gurney discovers that the truth is more shocking than anyone had imagined.
And the identity of the villain at the mystery’s center turns out to be the biggest shock of all.
Could a nightmare be used as a murder weapon?
That’s the provocative question confronting Gurney in the thrilling new installment in this series of international bestsellers. The former NYPD star homicide detective is called upon to solve a baffling puzzle: Four people who live in different parts of the country and who seem to have little in common, report having had the same dream—a terrifying nightmare 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 weapon used in each case was a wolf’s head dagger.
Police zero in quickly on Richard Hammond, a controversial psychologist who conducts hypnotherapy sessions at a spooky old Adirondack inn called Wolf Lake Lodge. It seems that each of the victims had gone there to meet with Hammond shortly before turning up dead.
Troubled by odd holes in the official approach to the case, Gurney begins his own investigation — an action that puts him in the crosshairs of not only an icy murderer and the local police but the darkest corner of the federal government. As ruthless as the blizzard trapping him in the sinister eeriness of Wolf Lake, Gurney’s enemies set out to keep him from the truth at any cost — including an all-out assault on the sanity of his beloved wife Madeleine.
Tensions have been running high in White River as it approaches the anniversary of a fatal shooting of a black motorist by a local police officer. The polarized city is on edge, confronted with angry demonstrations, arson, and looting. In the midst of the turmoil, a White River police officer is shot dead by an unknown sniper. As the town spirals out of control, local authorities approach Dave Gurney to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting.
When an old colleague comes to him for help solving the mysterious death of his town's most prominent resident, retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney must use all of his analytical skills to hunt a murderer who just might be killing from beyond the grave
The idyllic community of Larchfield is rocked to its core when Angus Russell, its wealthiest and most powerful citizen, is found dead in his mansion on Harrow Hill. A preliminary analysis of DNA gathered at the crime scene points to the guilt of local bad boy Billy Tate, whose hatred for the victim was well known. Except that Tate fell from the roof of a local church and was declared dead by the medical examiner the day before Russell was killed. When police rush to the mortuary, they discover Tate's coffin has been broken open from the inside, and the body is gone.
A series of murders soon follows as Larchfield loses its collective mind. Gun sales explode. Conspiracy theories and religious fundamentalism spread. The once-peaceful town becomes a magnet for sensation seekers, self-proclaimed zombie hunters, TV producers eager for ratings, and apocalyptic preachers rallying the faithful for the end of days. His quiet retirement shattered, ex-NYPD detective Dave Gurney finds himself not only facing down a murderer, but struggling to restore order to the town rapidly spiraling out of control.
Pushed to his breaking point and accused of murder, retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney must face his greatest adversary yet to solve a mystery that is quickly tearing his world apart
Tennis bad boy Zeko Slade is serving twenty years for the grisly murder of small-time criminal Lenny Lerman. The facts of the case—and Slade’s checkered past—seem indisputable. What begins as a cursory review of the case as a favor to Dave Gurney’s wife’s friend soon spirals into something much more complicated.
When Gurney’s involvement threatens to expose a viper’s nest of corruption, he finds himself framed for murder and pursued by a sensational media, a ruthless district attorney, and a coldblooded killer.
As he evades the law and attempts to solve the case to salvage his reputation, Gurney grapples with the realization that his unshakable need for police work is costing him more than the brilliant detective ever suspected.