The Thousand

The Thousand

by Kevin Guilfoile


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Math whiz Canada Gold is busy putting her skills to questionable use in the courthouses—and casinos—of Las Vegas when a case sends her back to Chicago, a city marred by personal tragedy. It’s been years since her father, a prominent composer, was murdered while working on his magnum opus. The crime remains unsolved… at least until Canada realizes that she’s being pursued by The Thousand, a clandestine group of powerful individuals safeguarding and exploiting the secret teachings of Pythagoras. But as Canada attempts to connect the ancient cult with her father’s murder, she finds herself caught between three very dangerous sides: those who want to use her, those who want to kill her, and the one person who wants to save her.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400043095
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/24/2010
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Kevin Guilfoile is the author of Cast of Shadows and has written for McSweeney's, Salon, and the New Republic.

Scott Brick has recorded over five hundred audiobooks, won over forty AudioFile Earphones Awards, and twice received Audie Awards for his work. Scott was chosen as Publishers Weekly's 2007 Narrator of the Year, and he has been named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine.

Read an Excerpt


His charcoal suit had been tailored on State Street and drew an intimidating line across his shoulders. It tapered at his thin waist and billowed subtly at his ankles. His left sleeve had been cut just millimeters shorter than his right to better expose his father’s heavy platinum watch. In all his suits, he looked tall and confident and independent. But everyone in this warm fifth-floor Chicago courtroom—jury, judge, media, spectators, prosecutors—already knew Reggie Vallentine was smart.

“Regardless of the facts, the state’s attorney wants you to believe that convicting my client would achieve some noble result,” he told the jury while orbiting the lectern at a radius of six or so feet. “Remember what the prosecution said in its opening statement: ‘We cannot have two systems of justice, one for the poor and unknown and another for the rich and famous.’ The government’s own case, however, has convinced me that two such systems really do exist. The truth is, my client never would have been indicted if not for the fact that he is a celebrity.

“As someone who makes a living at the far table in these courtrooms, I have always had great respect for the state of Illinois. The state of Illinois does not prosecute unknown people when it has not a single microbe of physical evidence. The state of Illinois does not prosecute unknown people on hearsay. The state of Illinois does not prosecute unknown people with uncorroborated testimony from witnesses whose character, as you have seen, compares unfavorably to the accused in every respect.”

His client had wanted to wear pinstripes on certain days, but Reggie convinced him that stripes make defendants look guilty. Instead, Reggie selected for him a number of dark suits with brightly colored shirts and patterned ties—a different combination for every day of the sixteen-week trial. An innocent man isn’t afraid to stand out in court, Reggie said. It’s the guilty man who wants to disappear. The outfits had to be approved by a stable of advisers, consultants, handlers, and hangers-on, but the defendant had made it clear to his people: We all work for Reggie Vallentine now. The only element of his appearance that was off-limits to Reggie was the trademark silver hair, which stuck from his head in all directions like a saint’s halo in a Byzantine mural.

“So you ask yourself, Why Solomon Gold? I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. Only the state’s attorney himself knows why he has mounted so vigorous a crusade for the purpose of sending my client to prison.”

On the first day of his defense, Reggie never even mentioned the victim, a twenty-two-year-old cellist in the Chicago Symphony’s training orchestra. Instead, he introduced controversial testimony indicating that state’s attorney (and gubernatorial candidate) Bradley Spelling had a long record of bringing charges against high-profile defendants and, in advance of this trial, had lobbied hard and successfully to change state law so the proceedings could be televised.

“I speculate about the reason we are all here only because I know the state’s attorney to be an intelligent man, and his experienced prosecutors can’t possibly look at the evidence they presented in this courtroom and come to the conclusion that my client is guilty. And the only reason I have slept soundly at night throughout months of this Kafkaesque trial is that I know the twelve of you are intelligent, as well. I am certain the only motive you will have in your deliberations will be to ascertain the truth. Therefore, I know the only verdict with which you can return is not guilty.”

He modulated his rich baritone for the spacious courtroom, which was paneled on all sides by stained oak and attentive reporters, three floors and another world of opulence away from the cramped bench where this same judge dispatched the cases of everyday defendants—drug dealers and addicts and thieves—who weren’t so flush with money and fame. Three national cable networks were covering the trial in real time. Reggie wore makeup specially formulated for live-television performers who must look natural both on camera and before an audience. He told his client to wear it, too. The prosecutors wore no makeup at all.

“The state has made a tremendous deal about the cruelty of this crime, and by some transitive property it hopes you will apply that awful quality to my client. The prosecutors organized a parade of experts to testify that Erica Liu continued to be bludgeoned about the head—gouged in the eye—even after she was unconscious. Yet they have not produced a weapon. As you heard from the medical examiner, they aren’t even sure what that instrument could have been! How many times did you hear those three words from prosecution witnesses, ‘I’m not sure’ or ‘I’m not certain’? Do you know? One hundred and forty-seven times. One hundred and forty-seven times, they weren’t sure. Yet somehow they are sure that my client is a murderer.”

Only in his late thirties, Reggie had been a respected and prominent Chicago litigator before Gold, the Oscar-winning composer and music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, tapped him for this case. Now he was a national star. Late-night comedians constructed terrible punch lines around his name. (“The queen of England was too ill to meet with the president this week and apparently she felt really guilty about that. She felt so guilty, in fact, that she hired Reggie Vallentine.”) Sketch comedy shows lampooned him. Glossy periodicals celebrated him. Tabloids shortened his last name to “Valli” for headline convenience. (ain’t this valli low enough? read the front-page wood in the Sun-Times after his aggressive and effective cross-examinations of the victim’s father and twin brother.) Chicago magazine had just named him one of the fifty sexiest men in the city, essentially trading him for his own disgraced client, who had dropped off the list from the year before. There was not an African-American publication in the country that had not featured Reggie Vallentine on its cover at least once.

“Solomon Gold had consensual sex with Erica Liu in her apartment and again in his car after a performance in Millennium Park on the night of June fourteenth. That is the only thing the prosecution’s much- heralded DNA evidence has proved, and it is a point the defense has conceded. Her body was found in an alley, closer to the home of an ex-boyfriend than to Solomon Gold’s home in Lincoln Park. You heard detectives testify there was every indication that the crime scene represented a robbery. Erica Liu had no money in her purse, no watch on her wrist, and her own brother testified that a diamond necklace she always wore on performance nights was missing from around Erica’s neck.

“The prosecution wants you to believe that the illicit nature of my client’s relationship with Erica constitutes motive. Ladies and gentlemen, if every man who was having an extramarital affair were a murder suspect in Cook County, then the rest of us would have time to do little but sit on their juries.” He paused for the laugh, and it arrived as he had hoped, an audible spike in the jury’s approval. “What does a famous and successful man like Solomon Gold have to gain by murdering a sweet and talented young woman, a young woman he had mentored, whose talents he had nourished, for more than eight months? Nothing. Nothing at all. What does an ambitious man like Brad Spelling have to gain by prosecuting a famous individual like Solomon Gold? You heard the media consultant, Mr. Carroll, say ‘the sky’s the limit’ for a promising young politician in a world where name recognition and television exposure are more important than sound policies and personal ethics. And despite your unfortunate sequestering, I don’t need to remind responsible individuals like yourselves that there’s an election on Tuesday.”

Reggie used his final minutes to acknowledge the pain felt by Erica Liu’s mourning father, and he compared it to the shame felt by Solomon Gold’s teenage daughter. “When someone is hurt, it is our instinct to hurt someone in return,” Reggie said. “But this courtroom is not about instinct. It is about reason. Reason is the active ingredient in reasonable doubt. And you have not a single good reason to convict Solomon Gold of this crime. All Brad Spelling has given you is a short list of very bad reasons. They are his reasons, not yours.”

The jury deliberated for only two days—another forty-eight hours for Reggie behind his inscrutable trial face, another forty-eight hours for Solomon Gold in his jailhouse tans.

Then the surprise verdict, with Brad Spelling himself sitting in the gallery for its reading, graying head between his manicured hands.

“You did great, hon,” said Reggie’s wife, Steph, over dinner at Spiaggia, their first night out together in almost a year.

He agreed but didn’t seem happy.

A dozen important people approached their table with not always sincere congratulations. Reggie and Steph made celebratory love and he tried to fall asleep with his own face all over the muted news glowing at the end of the bed. Undoubtedly, he was now the most famous criminal attorney in America. His fees were about to triple. He had a book contract waiting for his signature. An agent on each coast. Fifteen offers a day to appear on this television show or that one—prime time, daytime, morning, late night.

Life is about to change for all of us, Reggie thought. This verdict would be a ticket to big things. Expensive things. A life unimaginable.

His wife asked why he looked depressed. Reggie told her it was nothing. He said he wasn’t getting much sleep. Stress, he said. All the attention. “Don’t you ever sometimes feel bad when everything around you is good? Don’t you sometimes feel good when everything around you is bad?”

He didn’t tell her he couldn’t sleep because he knew the Gold trial would be his legacy. Whatever else he accomplished, Reggie would always be famous as the lawyer who successfully defended Solomon Gold. The composer’s name would be in the headline of Reggie’s obituary, and between this day and that one the long wake of this trial would carry waves of cash and opportunity his way.

Solomon Gold’s acquittal would be the best thing that ever happened to Reggie Vallentine.

But Reggie knew something no one else knew. A secret that could be shared, thanks to confidentiality laws and the constitutional principle of double jeopardy, by Reggie and his client alone.

Solomon Gold was guilty as hell.


Little about the girl’s demeanor suggested she was giving much thought to the square metal frame that had been screwed onto her head the previous morning, or the dime-size holes that had been drilled into her skull, or the incision that had been opened at the base of her neck, or the long wires that had been pulled from her collarbone to her brain like new wires in an old house. She appeared neither brave nor afraid.

Her pale, shaven scalp was hidden under a stocking cap, her bloodred locks having been dispatched to a wig maker, who would refashion them, at the girl’s request, for a child in the cancer wing. She wore a hospital gown covered in Donalds and Mickeys. The day nurse was partial to these patterns. She said they made the kids happy. The night nurse, who had two children of her own, thought it insidious that the hospital allowed sick kids to be made into advertising billboards.

And this girl’s a little old for Mickey Mouse anyway, the night nurse thought.

“Do you want me to find you a different gown, dear?” she asked.

The girl shrugged, barely.

“Do you even still like Mickey Mouse?”

The girl looked puzzled. She pulled the material away from her abdomen and stared at it. “I hadn’t even noticed.” Smiling, she added, “These are okay for now. In the morning, I’ll change.”

The night nurse scribbled a note to the day nurse: “She hates the Mickey Mouse. Says she’s too old for that!”

The girl was staring at a West Coast Cubs game on television, but the night nurse couldn’t tell if she was watching. The drip from the bag above her bed delivered a slow calm up and down the girl’s body, along with one last powerful dose of the drug cocktail that had barely managed her life for the last four years. There were headphones around her thin neck. On the table next to her bed, along with a tall Styrofoam cup of ice water topped with a cap and impaled with a straw, was a rubber mouthpiece in case the seizures recurred, and a CD by a band called Bomb Pop. The nurse even recognized it.

“My daughter likes Bomb Pop, too,” the nurse said.

The girl took a moment to respond. A delay, not very long, but almost as if there were a translator whispering in her ear. “Everybody likes them,” she said finally and pleasantly. “Not my dad, though. He doesn’t like any new music, only music by dead people.” She seemed immediately horrified by the implications of what she had said, and with wide eyes and a bitten lip, she appealed for both forgiveness and discretion, which the nurse granted with a smile. Watching the television news over the last few months, the night nurse had developed the impression that Solomon Gold was not someone you spoke frankly about in public—even if you were his only daughter.

The operation had gone well and the night nurse had little to do in the room besides housekeeping. She circled the bed and closed the drapes against the parking-lot halogens outside. Canada was an odd name for a girl, but pretty. “NAH-duh,” they sometimes called her. The mother had been to visit only once and very briefly. Rumor was that she had left the state, choosing to abandon her tragic, tabloid life altogether, leaving her troubled daughter as well as her husband—“She’s throwing out the baby with the bad father,” one of the doctors had punned. The night nurse didn’t think that was funny. Daytime visitors were limited mostly to a woman thought to be a nanny and another woman thought to be an aunt. The nurse had seen not a single friend the girl’s own age, but then, what parent would really want their kid playing at the Gold house these days?

Solomon Gold, accused killer recently freed by jury, had been here each night since the girl was admitted, avoiding the gawkers and cameras by keeping an odd schedule, after visiting hours, often when Canada was asleep, sometimes singing to her, humming to her, in murmurs and whispers. The nurse saw him arguing with Dr. Falcone, his arms swinging wildly between them, as if the doctor were a flutist in his orchestra, someone he could control like a marionette with his hands. The nurse found Solomon Gold intimidating, to be sure, and often rude, but like half the population, according to polls, she was happy for his acquittal. Her gut told her he couldn’t be a murderer. Despite what joking doctors might say, murderers wouldn’t care this much about their daughters.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Kevin Guilfoile's riveting new novel defies pigeon-holing. Part thriller, part dystopic science fiction.... You'll stay up all night until the pieces fall into place." —-Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author of Hardball

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The Thousand 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Kataman1 More than 1 year ago
This book had elements of a great tale. A lawyer (Reggie Valentine) defends a celebrity for a murder where he knows he is guilty and he must still give a great performance in court, the celebrity gets off and then is murdered, the celebrity's daughter Canada (called Nada) is a math expert with a lot of other talents who investigates her father's murder. Even with all these elements I had to plod through the slow and sometimes difficult to follow plot. I had real difficulty finishing this book and I blame the author's writing style as a big detraction to what could have been a great book.
harstan More than 1 year ago
As a child growing up in Chicago, Canada "Nada" Gold had a gift with numbers. As an adult her numeral skill enables her to seemingly instantaneously collect and analyze data, which works quite nicely in Vegas casinos. She uses her skill to earn a living, but also suffers emotionally from the traumas she has faced. Her father Solomon, Chicago Symphony music director, declares he has recreated Mozart's intended climax to the unfinished symphony. However, soon after his declaration, he is charged with murdering his mistress, Erica Liu, a cellist in his orchestra. Nada returns home from Vegas to be with her dad. His lawyer Reggie Valentine and his performance earned Solomon an acquittal though he killed the victim. Soon after his court victory, he is murdered. Meanwhile the secret Thousand, worshippers of Pythagoras, learn of Canada's skills and have plans to use her to further future schemes on a par with calamities like 9/11 and Katrina that they caused in the name of their ancient Greek "god". The premise is excellent built from what is known about Pythagoras leading to the modern day cabal Thousand who causes calamities for profit (capitalism at its purist). The story line is fast-paced and loaded with fun but somewhat inane chase scenes. Except somewhat for Nada who feels like a freak, the key cast especially any of the members of the avaricious lethal Thousand are never developed. Still readers will enjoy the Thousand's interpretation of the Pythagorean theory. Harriet Klausner
ThreeFiveSeven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really loved the characters and plot created by the author, but his writing style holds me back from loving the book. Conspiracy, bionics and a plot with solid pace make this novel worth reading.
CSMcMahon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Thousand isn¿t typically a book I would have picked up to read. I don¿t tend to read thrillers and try to avoid anything involving math. But I happened to win a copy of the book from the author in a contest on twitter (which I didn¿t know I entered). And because the book is set partially in Chicago and Guilfoile is a Chicago author I felt compelled to give it a shot.I¿m so glad I did because I found the story to be completely captivating. It¿s one of those books that as soon as you think you have figured something out¿ guess again.The Thousand is a group of people who for generations have followed the teachings of Pythagoras. His teachings have to do with the relationship between numbers and the order of the universe.Set in Chicago and Las Vegas, the book centers around a woman named Canada Gold. When Canada, or Nada as she is known to friends, was a child she received a neurostimulator implant in her brain as a last attempt to control her severe attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The neurostimulator or spider (as Nada called it) gave her special abilities. She notices things that people didn¿t see. She hears things that people didn¿t hear. She uses these abilities to her benefit in Las Vegas first counting cards and then as a private investigator.Because she is so skilled she is hired by a businessman to return to Chicago and help him acquire art from an eclectic artist named Burning Patrick. Nada grew up in Chicago the daughter of a famed musician who was murdered shortly after he was acquitted for the murder of a young student. As the story progresses the reader finds that everything believed to be truth is really part of an elaborate scheme. And everything is connected. Both factions of The Thousand are looking for Nada and she doesn¿t know who she can trust.As a life-long Chicagoan, I found Guilfoile¿s descriptions of the city to be gripping. He nails the descriptions of the people and the places. I found the scene involving the riot in the park to be particularly haunting. I also fell in love with some of the characters. I felt for Wayne Jennings, the head of security who loves Nada. I was sad for Nada¿s best friend, the prosecutor. Kloska, the veteran Chicago Police Officer, seemed like someone you want to hate but underneath it all there¿s something oddly appealing about him. He¿s looking for the truth even if it costs him everything.The one problem I had with the book was that I had a hard time keeping track of the two waring groups, Acusmatici and the Mathematici. I had to keep thinking back to try and remember which group was which. But it didn¿t keep me from enjoying this story. In fact it probably helped enhanced the story since I couldn¿t quite remember which group was responsible for which activities.I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good thriller. You won¿t regret it.
jasonpettus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)Although I've been an acquaintance of local author Kevin Guilfoile for nearly a decade now, I've never actually read any of his full-length work, mostly because of him working in the crime/mystery genre that I neither follow nor care for that much; so I was glad to randomly spot his latest, the DaVinci-Codesque The Thousand, on the "new release" shelf at my neighborhood library this month, because it meant I could make my way through it fairly quickly and without a lot of fuss, frankly just like how I read through most novels in this genre. And indeed, this book is full of the kind of stuff that makes me kind of roll my eyes a bit when it comes to titles like these, which is why I try for the most part simply not to review these kinds of books, because of knowing that I'm far from its ideal audience; our main character, for example, is basically Lisbeth Sanders meets the Bionic Woman, a plucky female private investigator who received a sort of experimental body-wide pacemaker thingie as a child which now gives her nearly supernatural physical abilities, which she uses to slowly uncover a secret society that worships the hidden codes found in the work of the Greek mathematician Pythagorus, a group which believes our tomboyish hero to be the star-child or something that will finally bring all the ancient prophecies to fruition. Or, er, something like that. It's certainly as good as the other novels of this sort that I've read over the years, so I feel confident in recommending it to those who are naturally into this genre; but to really see Guilfoile at his best, you should instead check out the short, smart, bitter humor writing he's done in the past for places like McSweeney's and Funny Or Die.Out of 10: 8.0
reannon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Thousand resembles a cross between The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The DaVinci Code. The main character, Canada Gold, is a petite young woman with amazing mental skills. In her case, the skills come in part from a neurostimulator in her brain that was implanted to control ADD so severe she couldn't function. Her father, Solomon Gold, was a genius, but apparently murdered his lover and was in turn murdered the night Canada was had her operation to implant the deep brain stimulator.Now, several years later, the doctor who performed Canada's surgery is murdered with the same gun that killed Solomon. The police keep hearing that both of the murdered were part of a secret society of followers of Pythagoras, The Thousand, who have known the secrets of the universe since the time of the mathematician. Modern science has been discovering those secrets and the Thousand believe that when the last of those secrets is discovered the world will end.Your reaction to this book will depend a lot on whether you believe in 2000 year old conspiracies, and in secrets so amazing that one person can destroy the world. I don't, so the whole plot fails to move me. I do like the character of Canada, and even more that of Wayne Jennings, the casino security boss who is in love with her. The book is not to my taste but may be to yours.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book isn't for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the Da Vinci Code, which this book certainly reminded me of (Except that it featured Pythagoras rather than Da Vinci and a secret society of mathematicians rather than Catholic priests. And the writing was better overall.).I wish that it had concentrated more on Canada and Wayne, since I didn't feel I got to know them as well as their key roles in the book would justify. It simply wasn't a character oriented book.The conspiracy and convoluted schemes were simply crazy. That's the fun of the book, but if you don't have patience for bizarre twists and unlikely turns, this isn't for you.
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bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
This thrilling novel takes hold of you and doesn't let up until the last sentence has been read. Kevin is a master of words and knows how to keep a reader engaged. Two thumbs up!
cdbaker More than 1 year ago
I borrowed an advance copy of this book from a friend and loved it. It's a super-smart and fast-paced thriller with a complex plot involving four people (at least) who get mixed up in a battle between feuding members of an ancient religious cult/secret society originally started by Pytahgoras. The historical aspects of the story are fascinating (as soon as I finished I had to look up which parts were true) and the fiercely independent, mentally gifted heroine, Canada Gold, will remind some people of Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. There are lots of threads to this story involving medicine and art and murder and music, but its still easy to follow and the strands come together in an ending that left me a little unsettled. I'm still thinking about it. Highly recommended.