Shut Your Eyes Tight – John Verdon

This is the follow up to Think of a Number, again featuring retired policeman Dave Gurney. And again, Gurney does what the establishment police force cannot do: solve the murder mystery. This one, it has to be said, is a cracking mystery.

The drop dead gorgeous daughter of a wealthy woman has her head chopped off on the day of her wedding to a famous psychiatrist. The killer flees the scene and disappears into thin air, it appears, though the murder weapon is found. The investigation goes nowhere…

Then the lead investigator is pulled from the case, but he finds a way to get Gurney involved. Gurney turns over some stones and sees lots of nasty things crawling around, and not all what they seem.

Once more, the author delivers a smart plot with some nice twists. That is the strongest bit of the book. But his writing craft needs more work. And the internal doubts Gurney has about his position in life, retiral, and his marriage, might be interesting if told differently. Regrettably, in this book, they are boring, and worth skipping. Gurney, in general, is an interesting character. But I would like to know more about the policeman Hardwick. That may be a way for the author to freshen up his approach.

The police performance is not credible, and there are one or two plot holes. But the main thing the book lacks is some spark of life that would make the characters seem real or likely to be real.

Worth reading, but still struggling to escape from among the pack of good writers currently operating. To put it another way: good, but not great.

Score: 7/10.