Let the Devil Sleep (Dave Gurney #3)
by John Verdon
464 pages, Published July 24, 2012 by Crown
Book provided by published for honest review for Book Tour with TLC Book Touring
In this latest novel from bestselling author John Verdon, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney puts under the magnifying glass a notorious serial murder – one whose motives have been enshrined as law-enforcement dogma – and discovers that everyone has it wrong.
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 a notorious 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 supporters in previous investigations, Dave 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.
To survive, Gurney must rely on three allies: his beloved wife Madeleine, impressively intuitive and a beacon of light in the gathering darkness; his de-facto investigative “partner” Jack Hardwick, always ready to spit in authority’s face but wily when it counts; and his son Kyle, who has come back into Gurney’s life with surprising force, love and loyalty.
Displaying all the hallmarks for which the Dave Gurney series is lauded — well-etched characters, deft black humor, and ingenious deduction that ends in a climactic showdown – Let the Devil Sleep is something more: a reminder of the power of self-belief in a world that contains too little of it.
I loved the second book in John Verdon’s series featuring retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney, Shut Your Eyes Tight. I certainly wasn’t going to say no when I was approached to be a part of the tour for the third installment of this series. In Let the Devil Sleep, it’s been six months since Dave Gurney was shot in the head and awoken from a coma at the end of the last book, and he’s still struggling with his recovery from those wounds. The calm, life of leisure he leads in retirement in the New York countryside with his wife Madeleine is leaving him on edge and easily angered while he has no real obligations. But when a reporter who had written a feature on him in the past calls asking for his help mentoring her daughter with a media project on the Good Shepard serial killings, Dave reluctantly agrees to look over the young woman’s shoulder for one day to get out of the house.
And what Dave sees in that one day of shadowing student Kimberly is enough to make him dig into this decade old serial killer case, one that had rich people who owned black Mercedes quaking with fear over a short period of time. Kim’s school project featuring personal interviews with the family members of the Good Shepherds victims was picked up by a major news outlet and is being made into a big series, and she really needs help dealing with the television big wigs but also with the details of the cold case. But what she doesn’t tell Dave at first, is that she’s scared of her ex-boyfriend who she thinks is stalking her, leaving knives in odd places around her apartment with drops of blood leading into the basement.
When Dave wants to back away, his wife Madaleine talks him into sticking with Kimberly, and she has a good reason: Dave has been more like his old self when working with Kim than he had since he was injured six months previously. Taking this case just might be what he needs to recover fully, because obviously you don’t stop being a detective just because you retire.
What I really loved about this installment was the deeper development of Dave’s wife Madaleine. She is the polar opposite of Dave, and you really wonder in the second book how their marriage has held together so long. But in Let the Devil Sleep, you get a much better glimpse at what makes them such a great couple and what it really takes to love someone who is in law enforcement. The addition of Dave’s son Kyle is a breath of fresh air to this series. He was mentioned in the previous book, and it was interesting to see the father-son dynamic where the son idolizes the father, and Dave certainly doesn’t feel deserving of that type of love. Detective Jack Hardwick is Dave’s only ally that will get him classified information, and his brass way of communicating is tough-guy funny but entertaining. He always has Dave’s back, even when he’s acting like he hasn’t talked to Dave in weeks.
The serial killer plotline in this book was tight and fast paced. The television series stirs up the Good Shepherd, and Dave makes himself a target to draw the bad guy out. In his usual clever and deft style, John Verdon has crafted a smart and entertaining novel that had me guessing to the end. I had the serial killer narrowed down to a few suspects, but ultimately I didn’t know who it was until the big blow out reveal in the end–and I love it when a book has me stumped like that. A big five out of five for Let the Devil Sleep. I eagerly await book four in the Dave Gurney series.
JOHN VERDON is a former Manhattan advertising executive who lives with his wife in the mountains of upstate New York. His first two Dave Gurney novels, Think of a Number and Shut Your Eyes Tight, are both international bestsellers.
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