“I think you have a great talent for figuring things out, for unraveling deceptions, solving complicated crimes. And maybe you’re so good at it, so comfortable in that particular way of thinking, that the rest of life seems like an uncomfortable interruption.”
This is the fourth book in a series. This review contains no spoilers for previous books in the series, aside from giving away the survival of two characters.
Peter Pan Must Die, by John Verdon
#4 in the Dave Gurney series
Crown Publishers, July 2014
440 pages (hardcover)
The daunting task that confronts Gurney, once the NYPD’s top homicide cop: determining the guilt or innocence of a woman already convicted of shooting her charismatic politician husband, who was felled by a rifle bullet to the brain while delivering the eulogy at his own mother’s funeral.
Peeling back the layers, Gurney quickly finds himself waging a dangerous battle of wits with a thoroughly corrupt investigator, a disturbingly cordial mob boss, a gorgeous young temptress, and a bizarre assassin whose child-like appearance has earned him the nickname Peter Pan.
Startling twists and turns occur in rapid-fire sequence, and soon Gurney is locked inside one of the darkest cases of his career – one in which multiple murders are merely the deceptive surface under which rests a scaffolding of pure evil. Beneath the tangle of poisonous lies, Gurney discovers that the truth is more shocking than anyone had imagined.
And the identity of the villain at the mystery’s center turns out to be the biggest shock of all.
This book, like all of the Dave Gurney books, is a puzzle…
I like the writing, I like the characters, and I like the balance between Gurney’s struggle with real life and whatever case he gets pulled into. So even when I’m not quite as entranced with that particular case – and some have been better than others – there’s still plenty to keep me reading.
This one, though, was pretty good, probably my favorite since Think of a Number. It’s an intriguing case with plenty of twists and a satisfying conclusion that pulls everything together. If there’s a downside, it’s that one of the events from the climax reminded me of something I saw in a terrible movie, so that part was a little hard to take seriously… unfortunate, but certainly not a deal breaker.
A lot of readers seem to really love Madeline. I agree that she’s a good challenge for Gurney, a way to shake him up… but I can’t really connect with her. Her enthusiasm for life is too much, and it borders on obnoxious. It’s hard to believe that the two of them even stay together. Their marriage is as much a source of conflict as anything else in these books, but even though I enjoy reading about it, and I enjoy the balance Verdon creates between Gurney’s personal and professional life – made more complex by the fact that he’s retired and isn’t supposed to have a professional life anymore – it does require a certain suspension of disbelief.
Then again, there are plenty of couples in real life that don’t seem to make sense… so maybe it’s not so far-fetched.
Minor quibbles aside, this was a really good book, and I highly recommend the first book in the series to mystery lovers looking for a new author to try.
Does Peter Pan Must Die sound like something you’d pick up? Are there any fictional relationships that don’t make sense to you, whether or not you enjoy reading about them?