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Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
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A John March Novel

A-Red CatJaded New York City detective John March has a demanding new client: his brother David, a Wall Street executive being blackmailed by a woman known only as Wren, with whom he had a brief, sizzling affair. David has hired John to track her down and keep her quiet. Shortly after John discovers that Wren is actually a performance artist who videotapes her steamy sessions with married men and sells them to "collectors," her body is fished out of the East River. When David becomes the prime suspect, John delves into the world of "noir porn" to prove David’s innocence—even though he is not completely convinced that David is innocent.
Knopf. 304 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 0307263169

Houston Chronicle 4 of 5 Stars
"March’s careful legwork through the galleries, clubs and underground film venues of a blizzardy New York, the bursts of violence, the tightly buttoned family tensions, his oddly cool relationship with the beautiful Clare, all are done to perfection. But Spiegelman wisely keeps a few rough edges: David is gratifyingly irredeemable, and Wren is just monstrous enough to make March’s sympathy for her a shade irksome." P.G. Koch

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"The glossy sheen of Manhattan noir that Peter Spiegelman brought to Black Maps and Death’s Little Helpers has become darker and more lustrous in Red Cat, a morality tale whose depiction of S-and-M performance art gives the story a peculiarly modern twist. … No less than the elegant cut of the author’s prose and the nice lines of his characters, the fashionable aesthetics of ‘noir porn’ are presented here in high style." Marilyn Stasio

People Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"Spiegelman has a genuine understanding of what we are capable of doing for love and the cruel cost of settling for anything else. Mystery fans will love his nifty guess-again plot, fuel-injected prose and deeply complex characters, but what shines is the way the author makes the murky, psychological secrets of relationships just as thrilling as the crime itself." Liza Nelson

Wall Street Journal 4 of 5 Stars
"If the moral answers remain uncertain, the sordid facts can at least be uncovered; and Mr. Spiegelman’s sharp prose pulls the reader straight through to the … end." Tom Nolan

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"March’s search for the killer keeps us guessing, but what distinguishes the novel is the level of the writing and Spiegelman’s portraits of people whom he may not like but always seems to understand. … He’s a writer with an unusual mix of talents, and Red Cat is one of the most interesting crime novels you’re likely to encounter this year." Patrick Anderson

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Red Cat (the title refers to the victim’s tattoo) is entertaining and fast-paced with the requisite red herrings littering the way to the expected denouement. While Knopf can hold its head up among other publishers in the crime fiction field with John March, it needs to ask for more originality from his creator." Bob Hoover

Critical Summary

The vast majority of critics raved about Red Cat, the third novel in the John March series. While Bob Hoover of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found it clichéd, others praised the suspense-filled, action-packed story line. In a genre where subtler narrative elements are commonly sacrificed to the plot, the critics felt that Red Cat transcended the standard murder mystery with its complex character analyses, pitch-perfect dialogue, and fascinating study of trust and betrayal in intimate relationships. Readers should be forewarned that the robust sexuality of Red Cat may not be to everyone’s taste, but fans of neo-noir will find this pulse-pounding thriller hard to put down.

First in the series

Black Maps (2003): Detective John March is hot on the trail of a blackmailer with access to potentially devastating documents connected to the collapse of an international bank. March must dodge bullets and federal investigators to save his client’s career.