Thursday, August 21, 2014

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon

In Peter Pan Must Die, a woman has been convicted of murdering her husband while he attended the funeral of his mother. Dave Gurney, a former NYPD homicide detective, has been called in to take a look at this unusual case because some questions remain. As Gurney investigates, he comes across some shady goings on and has to dig deep to get to the truth and ferret out the assassin, who's appearance has earned him the nickname, Peter Pan.

I loved this book. Every time I read a book by Verdon, I can't wait to sit down and write the review. I want to tell everyone just how awesome his books are. However, when I actually get to the writing part, I can't seem to express just how wonderful the book is. It's like there are no right words. I hope my thoughts that follow make sense.

This book is intelligent and so well written. I can't say that enough. Verdon's insight into human actions and interactions are top-notch. The story takes the reader inside the mind of Gurney as he works the case. It's all from his perspective. Even though he has a knack for these types of cases, he's still not perfect. He exhibits many flaws. Some of my favourite parts of the book were when Gurney was working by himself. I got to see how his brain worked and see his thought processes as he sifted through the evidence.

Madeline, Dave's wife, was worried about his inability to let police work go, to move on with his life, and to find a new passion in his retirement. She suggested that he visit a therapist, Malcolm Claret. Their conversations produced some amazing insights into Dave's character and into his past. Suddenly some of Dave's thoughts and actions (in this book and previous ones) started to make sense.

Speaking of Madeline, in the other books, I had a hard time connecting with her. However, I'm happy to say that I finally get her!!! I really loved her this time around. Her conversations with Dave about the chicken coop reminded me so much of my conversations with my husband about things around our house. There's me passionately going on about how much I'd love to do this or that and him answering in a noncommittal way. It made me laugh-out-loud a number of times. I loved that Madeline was into nature, played the cello, and cared for her chickens. She's a perfect complement to Dave. It might seem mundane to some, but to me she, and her life, is perfect.

While this story was much like the Verdon's ones, a true thinking man's mystery, parts of this book, especially the ending, left me breathless. I was flipping pages faster than I thought possible while hoping that things were going to turn out okay. I won't give away the ending, but I'll just say you'll need to hang on tight when you get closer to the end of this book.

The book contains several passages that I loved. I hope they make sense out-of-context:
Crucial action is always based on partial evidence. The hunter who demands a zoologist's affidavit that the deer in his sights is truly a deer will soon starve. The jungle dweller who counts all the tiger's stripes before deciding to retreat will be killed and eaten. (page 172)
Action being the best antidote for anxiety, and information the only remedy for uncertainty...(page 228)
Guilt is a painful hunger for harmony--a need to compensate for one's violation, to restore balance, consistency. (page 254)
We don't think what we think because we see what we see. We see what we see because we think what we think. Preconceptions can easily override optical data--even make us see things that aren't there. (page 271)
I remember an oily politician once explaining that he never engaged in deception; he merely managed the flow of information in an orderly manner to avoid confusing the public. (page 299)
Our brains are so fond of coherence that they confuse "making sense" with the truth. (page 368)

I've read all of Verdon's books featuring Dave Gurney. For the reviews, please see the Reviews by Author page on my blog. Scroll down to "Verdon". I'd recommend them all. I don't think there's a need to read them in order.

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

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

For more information about the author and his other books, please visit John Verdon's website.

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

Peter Pan Must Die by John Verdon, Crown Publishers (Random House), ©2014. ISBN 9780385348409(Hardcover), 440p.

1 comment:

  1. I am always amazed when I come upon authors that are totally new to me. I've not heard of him at all. It sounds intriguing and I have a couple of friends who love mysteries.


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