Shut Your Eyes Tight is the second book by John Verdon to feature retired NYC Detective Dave Gurney. I haven't read the first book, Think of a Number, but the second book is a good stand alone mystery.
The book starts with Dave's friend Jack dropping by to tell Dave about a case. A local woman was beheaded at her wedding reception. Everything points to the Hispanic gardener who hasn't been seen since the incident. Also missing is the next door neighbor's wife. Jack has been removed from the case supposedly for disagreeing that the gardener did it. He's told the dead woman's filthy rich, and slightly unstable, mother that Dave can find the gardener and get the truth about her daughter's death. Dave is bored out of his mind but he knows his wife, Maddie, will not like him getting involved with another case so he compromises and says he will give it two weeks.
I found Dave and Maddie's relationship annoying. He's this hot shot detective with a mind that's always working. Maddie expected him to become a “gentleman farmer” the minute he retired. He wonders if there's something wrong with him that he gets so wrapped up in solving mysteries. She stomps through this book pissed off that he hasn't morphed into the proper partner for her. I think towards the end she realizes that she's had unrealistic expectations of Dave. By the end of the novel they seem to be getting along better but I'm not convinced they can keep it up.
The plot of the book is a little convoluted. There's a lot of talk about sex but any action takes place “off camera”. Teenaged runaways, mob families, white slavery, trust fund assholes and more beheadings make their way into the story. I could have done without the Dave as artist subplot. It didn't add anything. I didn't like the bad guy from the minute I met him. It becomes fairly obvious that there's something wrong with his relationship to the murdered bride early on. I kept thinking of the movie The Sixth Sense where, throughout the movie, Bruce Willis kept talking to people but only the little boy replied to him. Once you realize that you know what the “surprise” ending is. With this book once you've noticed certain things the ending is obvious.
I enjoyed this book. I think I might even get the first book in the series. I'm hoping that Dave doesn't get in life threatening situations in every book. That would be boring. It's one of the reasons I stopped reading Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malhone books. How many times can a human get tied up/beaten/blown up/shot/mowed down before the body just gives up?
I received a review copy of this novel but the views expressed are completely my own.