Uta Hagen--

"We must overcome the notion that we must be regular...it robs you of the chance to be extraordinary and leads you to the mediocre."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Think of a Numb3r by John Verdon

I read this book way back in the first quarter of the school year in 2010.  I actually started reading it in July 2010, I believe, and with everything that was happening in August into September, this book unfortunately got pushed to the back burner a lot.  Which is really saying nothing about this book - this book was fabulous.  Unlike anything I have read in a long time.  It was chilling and dark and strangely beautiful in an odd way.  However, reviewing it so long after having read the book, I think it's safer to simply post the book review/report/connection paper I wrote on it for my English class.  WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  READ AT OWN RISK.

After reading Think of a Number by John Verdon there are several lessons that I can take from the book.  I didn't expect this book to teach me anything, but one lesson really hit home and the fact that it has been reinforced by a novel about an un-catchable serial killer surprised me, but also made me believe that this lesson is the most important to learn.

The main character, Dave Gurney, goes throughout most of the book avoiding the calls from his rich son and evading the heart-wrenching memories from the son that was killed on his watch.  Dave is aware that his relationship with his son is nearly non-existent and his relationship with his wife is on the rocks.  After working for the New York Police Department for twenty-something years he told her that his retirement would be the end of his obsessed-cop brain and late hours and the beginning of a relaxed life together away from the city.  But when he starts working a case again - after his retirement - as a favor to a friend (who ends up being killed - not a spoiler I promise), his wife realizes his promises will go unfulfilled and that her husband will never truly be able to leave the job - it's too much a part of who he is.  More people are killed by the same man who killed his friend, and Gurney is becoming more and more obsessed with this unsolvable case.  No evidence, no fingerprints, anything, nothing surfaces that the suspect doesn't want them to find.  More leads surface, but no solution can be reached even after several connections are made.  However, when a possible victim turns out to be the killer, Gurney finds himself locked in a room with the killer and another officer - Gurney is unarmed and the killer confiscates the officer's weapons.  Dave is very aware that this man could take his life and leave him for dead within minutes and without warning or reason.  As he realizes this, he tries to think of way to throw the control-freak killer off course and make him forget what he's doing all for an opportune moment of weakness where one of the hostages could make a move on him and take him down.  He's desperately thinking of just one way to make him falter, make him question who's really in control, but nothing seems to be working.  Gurney, in his own way, realizes he needs to patch things up with his family.  When he does, he realizes his perception of his son is totally off and that he had never really lost anything with his wife that wasn't re-attainable.  As for the son that was killed because he was distracted, he realizes that it wasn't his fault and that he hasn't failed as a father.

Throughout the past two months, I have been forced to look at my life and I have really realized what's important and what's just a trivial waste of time.  Ever since my hero and cousin was killed in Afghanistan, my life has been put into perspective.  Not only have I realized what really matters to me, but I've also realized how suddenly and how quickly life can be taken from you - without a second thought or reason, because sometimes there isn't a reason.  Understanding this, you should never leave a conflict unresolved and you should make the most of every single day.  If you're not living life, everyone's sacrifices both for freedom and from past hardships that made the present better, have been in vain.  They didn't give up their times and lives, nor did they endure pain so we can all just sit here and waste our lives away.  Reading Think of a Number by John Verdon has really reassured me that I need to know what's important in life and what's not.  It's also made me realize that a lot of people don't do this and just how many around me haven't realized this.

I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.  This is the first mystery I've read where I haven't figured out the answers before the characters do and I really life that.  However, there's a LOT of stereotypical "Cop Language" in this book and I would read this based on your matturity level.  I definitely wouldn't recomend this to some people I go to school with, but I definitely would recomend this book!!

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