Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicago Author Month: Kevin Guilfoile's The Thousand

Chicagoan Kevin Guilfoile's new thriller The Thousand has already received huge accolades, and has been compared to The DaVinci Code and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I can see why. The book features a creepy Pythagorean cult, and a tough, young female detective who would make a good match for Lisbeth Salander.

For Chicago area readers, this book is even more thrilling. It's set in Chicago, which is perfect, because this town has the same tough, gritty unrelenting energy as the story and its characters. There is a gruff Chicago cop, all accent and attitude, a flashy criminal defense attorney with dangerous secrets, and a fearless but tiny young heroine named Canada Gold. And plenty of powerful bad guys.

Chicagoans will enjoy the settings throughout the city, whether it's Chinatown, a posh Lincoln Park home, a gritty Lakeview bar or Mr. Beef. During an enormous power blackout in the middle of a hot steamy summer, refugees from the heat and the dark camp out in Lincoln Park and along North Avenue Beach. All trails lead to the Gothic north side mansion formerly owned by the Archdiocese of Chicago. It's a city well suited for a thriller, and Guilfoile plays it up just right. (I'm already picturing the film crews.)

The story begins as the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is on trial for the murder of his young mistress. Although the jury finds him not guilty, we know he did it. Within 24 hours of the verdict, the conductor is murdered and the prime suspect, the father of the murdered mistress, commits suicide. The murder weapon is never found but the investigation is closed. All exciting stuff (are you with me so far?) but this is just the beginning.

Fast forward ten years, when the same murder weapon is used to kill a Chicago doctor with suspicious ties to the long-dead conductor. The conductor's daughter, Canada "Nada" Gold, is now all grown up, but struggles with a mysterious brain implant her father insisted that she have as a young girl. The implant gives her superpowers of observation, which she has been putting to good use as a card counter and a private investigator in Las Vegas. Nada Gold heads back to Chicago, where she and a cool Chicago cop head straight into a dangerous conspiracy.

Different factions of The Thousand, a cult-like group of men and women who have descended from the disciples of Pythagoras, are engaged in a life-and-death battle for control of their mathematical secrets. Depending which faction you follow, these secrets could either destroy the world or lead to universal harmony. Tough little Nada Gold and her bizarre brain implant are caught right in the middle.

If you are thinking that this kind of creepy and suspenseful plot would only come from a writer who is a little weird and unglued, with poor hygiene and a head full of conspiracy theories, you would be wrong. Kevin Guilfoile is no Unibomber; he is a funny, smart Notre Dame alumnus who lives with his family in LaGrange. In fact, it was a sweet, older Notre Dame philosophy professor who gave him the idea to pursue the Pythagoras angle. Guilfoile has been a writer for McSweeney's and The Morning News, and has written a previous medical thriller called Cast of Shadows that some have compared to Michael Crichton. Sue and I got to know him through The Morning News Tournament of Books, where he leads a team of judges through a strange but wonderful March Madness bracket of book match-ups. Guilfoile's approach to book awards is hilarious, irreverent and just plain fun. He is the kind of guy you'd love to meet for a chat over a beer.

That's why we are especially excited to welcome Kevin Guilfoile to Chicago Author Night at The Bookstore on Thursday, October 28th at 7pm for a book discussion and book signing. We are also pleased to be welcoming debut author Joelle Charbonneau, whose debut comedic mystery, Skating Around the Law is a bookstore favorite as well. (For a great review of Charbonneau's book, go to

Please come meet these two incredibly nice, incredibly smart Chicago Area writers, and share a beer or a glass of wine. To register, please call The Bookstore at (630) 469-2891 or e-mail


  1. Somehow I TOTALLY missed that Kevin is the Kevin from the Tournament of Books! The brain chip implant sounds weird, but I think you've convinced me to buy Kevin's book next Thursday!

  2. I have been eying this book, but like Jen, I am not a huge mystery/thriller reader. However, I am pretty sure that you have convinced me to give this book a read.

    I am seriously considering attending on Oct 28th. It is a bit of a drive for me so I am hoping to get things in order like a friend to tage along with me. :)

  3. This sounds great! Thanks for putting it on my radar.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.