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Issue 102 - Spine Tingling

Whisky Magazine Issue 102
March 2012


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Spine Tingling

Jefferson Chase reviews another whisky laden novel

Under any circumstances, a stranger being able to read your mind is an uncanny scenario. But when the stranger is a psychopath, it's a full-blown nightmare.

In John Verdon's spine-tingling 2010 thriller Think of a Number, the founder of a New Age cult receives a threatening letter instructing him to imagine a number between 1 and 1000. When he opens an enclosed envelope, he discovers exactly those potentially deadly digits.

Unnerved, he contacts an old college classmate. Dave Gurney is a former NYPD homicide detective, trying, not very successfully, to adjust to retired life in upstate New York. The visit leaves Gurney uneasy: It was a curious thing about the past – how it lay in wait for you, quietly, invisibly, almost as though it weren't there. You might be tempted to think it was gone, no longer existed. Then, like a pheasant flushed from cover, it would roar up in an explosion of sound, color, motion – shockingly alive.

Associations, both mental and between people, will turn out to be at the crux of this puzzle.

Gurney takes the threats in the letter, written in the form of poems, seriously, and his instincts are proven right when the guru turns up shockingly dead, his throat cut and his body mutilated by a broken bottle.

As a witness and a consultant, he gets sucked into the case, much to the dismay of his wife and a local police investigator: “Before we go any further, I need to know how you know about the broken bottle.” “Just a wild guess.” “Just a...

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