Peter Pan Must Die (Dave Gurney Series #4)

Peter Pan Must Die (Dave Gurney Series #4)

4.5 12
by John Verdon

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In John Verdon’s most sensationally twisty novel yet, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney brings his analytical brilliance to a shocking murder that couldn’t have been committed the way the police say it was.

The daunting task that confronts Gurney, once the NYPD’s top homicide cop: determining the guilt or innocence of a woman already…  See more details below


In John Verdon’s most sensationally twisty novel yet, ingenious puzzle solver Dave Gurney brings his analytical brilliance to a shocking murder that couldn’t have been committed the way the police say it was.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Verdon's plot devices are intelligently layered in "Peter Pan Must Die." The denouement is one of the most unusual in crime fiction, and yet is perfectly logical. Verdon's cleverness again shines in "Peter Pan Must Die." – Associated Press

“Peter Pan Must Die is a thrilling read. The rhythm of the novel keeps you on the edge until the last pages–John Verdon has done it again.” – Downtown Magazine

“This case is the most perplexing novel Verdon has crafted to date…Readers who love a good whodunnit will be stunned as to who is really behind the murder of Carl Spalter.” – Florida Times-Union

“Stellar…The plot is full of Verdon’s usual challenges (e.g., it was apparently impossible for the murder to have been carried out), but the cleverness is surpassed by the probing analysis of what makes Gurney tick.”
--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

More Praise for John Verdon

“It’s always a pleasure to watch a keen mind absorbed in a difficult puzzle, which is how Dave Gurney distinguishes himself in John Verdon’s tricky whodunits.”--New York Times
“A masterful bit of writing that builds to a surprising and satisfying climax. The tension and enigmatic situations created en route to the conclusion make this book a definite nail-biter. John Verdon’s writing skill might well cause him to become known as ‘The Puzzle Master.’”-New York Journal of Books
“A razor-sharp serial killer thriller… The tension is palpable on virtually every page of a story that perfectly balances the protagonist’s complex inner life with an elaborately constructed puzzle.”--Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“Taut and suspenseful…Verdon is in top form as he lays out the twisty mechanics of the crime, creating an agreeably sinister villain.”--Washington Post

“The crime is grisly and the cop is complicated. A nice combination.”--New York Daily News

"Good writing and good storytelling often aren’t the same thing. Verdon combines them masterfully.” - Newark Star Ledger

 “Verdon is a master at controlling pace, illustrating the story of a rich but complicated marriage, pondering what it means to be sucked back into your life's work even if it might kill you, and demanding that the reader use his or her brain to figure out what comes next.”--Salon

Kirkus Reviews
Verdon’s successful series—featuring thoughtful, puzzle-solving retired NYPD detective Dave Gurney—adds another chapter with this dark tale of a demented contract killer who becomes entangled with a rich, but disturbed, family.Kay Spalter is in prison for killing her real estate–mogul husband, Carl. But Jack Hardwick, a former New York State police investigator, is out to spring her from her cell. Not because he thinks she's innocent; no, Hardwick hopes to prove police misconduct. Gurney’s crude, foulmouthed investigator friend lost his job after assisting Gurney with another case, and now he’s knocking on his buddy’s door asking for help on the Spalter situation. Initially, Gurney isn’t interested, but once he dips his toe into the mechanics of the investigation, he starts seeing all kinds of things that make no sense: crime scenes that fail to add up, missing witnesses, people whose stories contradict the evidence presented in court, and suspects that include a drugged-out daughter and a brother who maintains a questionable online church. When the lawyer going to bat for Kay Spalter turns up dead, it becomes evident that Gurney and Hardwick are dealing with something much larger than a mishandled case. Soon, the two men and Hardwick’s stunning police-officer girlfriend, Esti, are on the trail of an insane international hit man. Gurney’s fans like the detective’s patient unraveling of complex puzzles, as well as his unflappable confidence. However, those new to sidekick Hardwick’s brashness and lack of charm may wonder why Gurney would work with him. Verdon has constructed a taut, fascinating tale, but the story gets messy in its final chapters when the retired cop rejects sensible suggestions to bring in the authorities in favor of handling the killer on his own terms, bringing the case to a terrible conclusion.Gurney’s and Hardwick’s outsized egos interfere with good judgment in this otherwise smoothly written novel.

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Product Details

Publication date:
A Dave Gurney Novel , #4
Sold by:
Random House
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File size:
3 MB

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Peter Pan Must Die: A Novel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
Have enjoyed all of his books.  A new favorite author.   Don't miss this one!! Excellent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another in the Gurney series is a can't put down page turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book wad hard to put down because it captures your attention from page 1. John Verdon is a great author and I look forward to many more books!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this story a lot but would have felt better if the Detective had been called in at the start of the murders instead of wading back through everything, including all the trials, after the fact. The ending was terrific and made me chuckle even though an awful lot of murders happened in this story. As much as I love Peter Pan, this one was far from being liked much less clapped for, for his recovery. I rated it a 4* basically because my copy was printed in such a light gray that it was almost impossible to read and at 440 pages, that’s a lot of reading!
Twink More than 1 year ago
John Verdon has just released Peter Pan Must Die, the fourth book in his Dave Gurney series. I've been a fan from Verdon's first release, Think of a Number. Dave Gurney is a retired NYPD homicide detective, who had one of the highest clear rates in the department. Now, he and his wife Madeleine have moved to the country. Madeleine has embraced the change, but Dave can't seem to let his past life go. He's been approached over the past few years to help solve the unsolvable. He can't seem to say no, despite the danger that pursuing answers brings to his doorstep. Jack Hardwick (another recurring character) has left law enforcement to hang out his shingle as a private detective. His fledgling case is that of a woman already convicted of murdering her husband. He's been hired to re investigate the case - and he wants Dave's help. Dave agrees to have a look, but doesn't commit until... "It was little more that the clicking together of the first two pieces of a five-hundred-piece puzzle, but it felt good. A click was a click. And the first click had a special power." Sometimes a crime series has characters or plot as its strength. In Verdon's case, its both. Dave Gurney is a wonderful character. His puzzle solving skills, his reasoning and his careful, analytical mind make solving case along side of him great reading. It is intriguing to follow along with his thought processes as he links together seemingly disparate incidents and clues. But this character is not one dimensional. Instead Verdon also explores Gurney's psyche and the reasons he constantly puts himself in danger. This drive for answers also exposes his loved ones to danger, especially Madeleine. I've come to appreciate Dave as a person more over the course of the last three books. But, I have to say that I really, really enjoy Madeleine. Her view of life, her intelligence, her joy in everything she she sees and does makes her my favourite. The relationship between her and Dave has been explored further with every entry in this series and is as much of interest to this reader as the cases. As Dave says: " Our minds work differently. I get into something and just sort of stay in it. Madeleine has a way of changing her focus, of paying total attention to whatever's in front of her - adapting to the moment. She's always present, if you know what I mean." Verdon does a spectacular job with his plotting. Where you think the story will go is turned around several times over the course of the book. A few plot devices seemed a bit far fetched, but didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. I quite enjoy this series and will be watching for number five. You could read any of the books as a stand alone, but I bet you'll be hunting down the other three!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Verdon delivers again in the series involving Dave Gurney.
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gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
This is the fourth entry in the series featuring retired NYPD detective David Gurney who, according to New York magazine, is “the most successful homicide dick in the history of the Big Apple.” Now in his late 40’s, he and his second wife, Madeleine, live on an old farmhouse in the rural Catskill Mountains of upstate New York, leaving New York City three years earlier (“the city where they’d both been born, raised, educated, and employed”) after 25 years on the job. Dave has agreed to help out his old friend, Jack Hardwick, with whom he has a long and somewhat fraught history: Jack had had a ‘forced departure” from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation after a difficult case they had worked on together. (Hardwick is described as having “a sharp mind and sound investigative instincts . . . concealed behind a relentless eagerness to offend.”) This case is much more than just difficult: Hardwick is now a p.i., his first client being a woman who has been convicted of killing her husband – well, convicted of shooting him, at his mother’s funeral, following which he died during her trial, with the charges of course being changed to murder. Hardwick’s job, with Dave’s assistance, is to prove that the woman was framed and that the cop in charge of the investigation, either willfully or negligently, completely mishandled the case, including but not limited to hiding evidence and suborning perjury. Jack tells him that the case has everything: “Horror, hate, gangsters, politics, big money, big lies, and maybe just a little bit of incest.” As the case evolves, Dave’s propensity for putting himself in life-threatening situations is tested once again. This is a fascinating mystery, wonderfully well-written, with a unique plot. The villain of the piece is the eponymous little elf himself, but discovering his actual corporeal identity proves a very difficult task. The first reference to the elf comes in Part Two, appropriately headed “Peter Pan,” nearly a quarter-way into the book, with nothing more about him until even further on. But as things proceed, the book centers on the monstrous human who bears that nickname, who appears to be a sadistic serial killer. I was hesitant, even fearful, as I reached Part Three (ominously headed “All the Evil in the World), but that quickly changed as I soon found I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The author explores the question of whether “the patterns we perceive are determined by the stories we want to believe,” and states that “In the real world of crime and punishment - - as in all human endeavors - - objectivity is an illusion. Survival itself demands that we leap to conclusions.” And he makes a very good case. The three prior novels in this series were all very well received, and I have no doubt that this one will be as well. Despite its length, it is a page-turner, and is highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
But too much Madeleine, Madeleine, Madeleine!!! Dave Gurney is the main protaginist, not his meddling, airhead wife!! This distracted you from a smooth story line. Far too many useless scenery descriptions. Pages and pages wasted on "the wet green sweet smelling tall glorious, blowing in the wind grass". Who cares!