Friday, September 21, 2012

Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon

In Let the Devil Sleep, Dave Gurney, a retired homicide detective, is asked to help a young woman with her documentary project about one particular serial killer, The Good Shepard, who was never caught. After a series of threats, Dave re-examines the case and is convinced the original investigators got it all wrong. Of course, this doesn't make him that popular with other law enforcement officials. As he digs deeper, he's convinced he's onto something and ends up putting himself in harm's way. If he's successful, he can prove he's right and catch a killer at the same time. All of this leads to a climatic ending that even Dave doesn't see coming.

I loved this book! It's my favourite one from Verdon so far. As much as I loved the first two, I loved this one even more. Each time I picked up the book, it sucked me backed into the story. It's a true thinking man's mystery. The story is intellectual, meticulous and so well thought out that no stone is left unturned. I'm in total awe of his writing and storytelling ability. I had goose bumps for much of the time I was reading the book. It's that good.

I have to admit that I took my time reading this one. On one hand, I wanted to pick up this book the moment it arrived and devour it in one or two sittings. On the other hand, I didn't want to start it at all because I knew it would over way too fast. I settled for somewhere in the middle with reading a few chapters a day and making it last.

I love the main protagonist, Dave Gurney, a retired NYPD homicide detective who just can't settle into retirement. Like Verdon with writing, Gurney is intellectual and meticulous in his investigations. He doesn't stop until he's gotten to the truth.

While I love Gurney and the things we learned about him this go-round, it's the other characters that made this book for me. Jack Hardwick, Gurney's investigative partner, is kind of a hard guy to like. He's abrasive and borders on abusive, but he helps Dave a great deal. He has access to loads of information and acts as a sounding board for Gurney's far-out suppositions. I got a much better sense of Madeline in this book. I previous books I didn't quite "get" her. She seemed aloof and off in her own world, doing her own thing. She and Dave seemed more like acquaintances than a married couple. In this one, though, she seemed different. Or maybe we just got to see more of her. Whatever it was, I liked it. There was another character who "emerged" in this book. That's Kyle, Dave's son from his first marriage. I'm glad we finally got to meet him. He's a good kid, who's very supportive and proud of his Dad. It's great that Dave got to see that.

I also loved Verdon's depiction of the TV station sensationalizing the news or serial killers. I'd like to think that it was purely fiction, but unfortunately it's not. There are a few real life TV stations (and various so-called news programs) that do this. It's pretty sad. I think I'll leave it at that.

As with John's other books, I marked a bunch of passages that I loved. However, out of context most of them didn't really have the impact they did when I was reading them within the story. Having said that, I feel that these two can stand alone.
Favourite quotes:
...Anger is like a buoy on the surface of the water. What you think you're angry about is only the tip of the issue. You have to follow the chain all the way down in order to discover what it's attached to, what's holding it in place. (page 84)
Gurney knew from experience how dangerously easy it is to overlook logical flaws in one's thinking. When the product of one's own mind is the subject, objectivity is an illusion. (page 421)
I read his first two books: Think of a Number (my review) and Shut Your Eyes Tight (my review). I'd highly recommend them both.

Highly recommended. I can't wait for his next book.

For more information about this book, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author, please visit John Verdon's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon, Crown Publishers (Random House) ©2012. ISBN 9780307717924 (Hardcover), 449p.

1 comment:

  1. I have read some of his other books and loved them. I'll be looking for this one. Also - loved the quote about anger. So true!


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