Select one of the keywords
Let the Devil Sleep    by John Verdon order for
Let the Devil Sleep
by John Verdon
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

John Verdon, author of intricate, outside-the-box puzzlers Think of a Number and Shut Your Eyes Tight now brings back retired homicide investigator Dave Gurney (NYPD's most decorated detective) in another brilliant and absorbing mystery, Let the Devil Sleep.

Dave and his wife Madeleine live in a nineteenth century farmhouse in the Delaware County hills. Madeleine loves country life, but Dave is less enthusiastic. Indeed, after his recovery from severe injuries in Shut Your Eyes Tight that left him in a coma, Dave has been depressed. So much so that, for once, Madeleine encourages him to get involved in an investigation after an old friend calls him.

Freelance journalist Connie Clarke once wrote the laudatory article that tagged Dave as the NYPD Supercop. Now she wants him to help her seventeen-year-old daughter Kim. Completing a master's program in journalism, Kim wrote a thesis about the Orphans of Murder (children of murder victims where the killer was never caught). RAM-TV plan to produce it, and Connie wants Dave to give Kim the benefit of his life experience.

Dave talks to Kim and learns that she's focusing her show on victims of the Good Shepherd, who shot six unrelated individuals (all they appeared to have in common was driving a black Mercedes) ten years before and sent a twenty-page Memorandum of Intent to media and police. Kim's also talking to Max Clinter who, as a drunk off-duty detective, was blamed - and his career ended - over the Good Shepherd's escape.

Complicating matters is Kim's aggressive ex boyfriend, who seems to be stalking her. As always, Dave consults abrasive, cynical Jack Hardwick, who's happy to feed him information, especially if it will annoy FBI Agent Trout, the 'uptight prick of the century'. Though Dave uses his connection to profiler Rebecca Holdenfield to get access to Trout, he doesn't buy in to the FBI analysis of the case - and says so, loudly and clearly, earning a high-placed enemy.

While this develops, Madeleine takes a fancy to Kim and encourages Dave to introduce her to his adult son Kyle. Though Dave does not follow up, they meet anyway and spend time together. Kyle's interest in the case brings him closer to his father than ever before, and he has good insights. Escalating violence soon threatens all involved, and Dave's judgment is questioned, Dr. Holdenfield suggesting that it's compromised by PTSD. And there are more murders.

It's quite a tangle, but an old movie, The Man with the Black Umbrella, gives Dave an idea of what's behind it - he soon feels 'like a man juggling half a dozen oranges who'd just been tossed a watermelon ... loaded with nitroglyecrin.' Once again, Dave puts his life on the line to end it. I love this series, as much for its thoughtful social commentary (on the media this time) as for its mysteries. Let the Devil Sleep is even better than Shut Your Eyes Tight and I'm anxious to read more by John Verdon. Highly recommended!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews