Red Cat (Hardcover)

By Peter Spiegelman

Knopf, 9780307263162, 304pp.

Publication Date: February 6, 2007



Black Maps (“A stunner, a great debut roaring out of the gate”—Newsday) . . . Death’s Little Helpers (“Breaks new ground in detective fiction”—The Washington Post) . . . and now Red Cat, the third riveting installment in Peter Spiegelman’s thrilling series of novels featuring the brooding New York City private investigator John March.

With a troubled past and a job that attracts too much attention from the law, March has always been the black sheep of his staid merchant-banking family. Which makes the identity of his latest client all the more surprising: his smug older brother David.

David is desperate and deeply scared, and with good reason: a woman he met on the Internet, and then for several torrid sexual encounters, is stalking him. David knows her only as Wren, but she seems to know everything about him—and she’s threatening to tell all to his wife and his colleagues. His marriage, his career, and his reputation at stake, David wants John to find this woman and warn her off. Reeling from these revelations, John begins the search for Wren, and what he discovers both alarms and fascinates him. Part actress, part playwright, part performance-artist and noir pornographer, Wren is a powerfully compelling mystery—though no more so, John discovers, than his own brother.

But when a body surfaces in the East River, March suddenly finds he’s no longer searching for a stalker. Now he’s hunting a killer—and following a trail that leads ever closer to David’s door. . . .

Praise For Red Cat

“One of the best novels so far in this young year is Red Cat. Literate writing, a sturdy protagonist and dazzling subplots make Spiegelman one of the newer private-eye novelists who will be endlessly compared to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald–with good reason . . . March, dealing with his own entanglement with a married lover, Clare, emerges as an interesting and all-too-human gumshoe. Red Cat will make readers sit up and take notice. Watch Spiegelman!”
–Les Roberts, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Spiegelman’s sexy, superior thrillers rely on John March, an ex-cop and now a private investigator who comes from a wealthy, influential family, to confront a complex, intriguing crime . . . Red Cat is seamy and classy at the same time, with a taut throughline. Spiegelman doesn’t waste a page in this viciously intelligent thriller.”
–Sherryl Connelly, New York Daily News

“Peter Spiegelman’s writing sounds almost spookily like James Lee Burke's, but his haunted-yet-stoic investigator peruses the streets of New York rather than bayou country . . . 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.”
–P.G. Koch, Houston Chronicle

“Spiegelman earns our attention with the swift plot and excellent dialogue in this third in the series.”
–Jane Dickinson, Rocky Mountain News

“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 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, New York Times Book Review

“[Spiegelman is] 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 . . . We expect to find in good thrillers such elements as realism, intelligence, suspense and tough-mindedness, but we less often encounter much sex or sophistication. [But] Red Cat is sexy and sophisticated as well as endearingly nasty . . . Edgy and electric. It’s the war of the sexes with the gloves off . . . 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 . . . They’re subtle and pleasing characterizations. At times Spiegelman’s prose recalls Raymond Chandler’s . . . And a final scene echoes The Great Gatsby.”
–Patrick Anderson, Washington Post

“[The] third slam-bang installment of his gritty mystery series . . . 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.”
–Caroline Leavitt, People (4 out of 4 stars)

“As he looks for clues, March uncovers disturbing layers of truth about the sad past and strange present. Guilt and innocence, art and anger, crime and passion overlap . . . Spiegelman’s sharp prose pulls the reader straight through to the bittersweet end.”
–Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal

“[March] is anything but simple, and his character has some interesting twists . . . A consistently rewarding series.”
–Adam Woog, Seattle Times

“A taut little number about the fallout from an affair between the PI’s troubled brother and the mysterious redhead he met online. There are enough shady characters to keep readers guessing whodunit till the end, and March, a moody Manhattan loner, is always good company. Spiegelman writes simply, evocatively.”
–Karen Valby, Entertainment Weekly

“From page one, Spiegelman spins a gripping tale of betrayal, blackmail and murder . . . Seductive, brilliant, vindictive and downright bad, [the femme fatale] is the absolute antithesis of the girl next door . . . Spiegelman offers readers the complete package: a killer storyline (literally), vivid characterizations (anyone who has ever dabbled in sibling rivalry will revel in the relationship between March and brother David), crisp dialogue and a twist or two to keep you guessing.”
–Bruce Tierney, Bookpage

“Wall Street may be a rarefied world, but its inhabitants also can plumb the depths. John March is the black sheep of an investment banking family, formerly a cop and now a private investigator. When his very respectable older brother, David, comes to him for help, John quickly finds himself in a sordid world of perverse sex, dubious art, and, of course, murder . . . Spiegelman retired early from two decades on Wall Street, and his [previous] March book[s] made good use of financial background, but here we get more detecting . . . As John matures, so does Spiegelman. The writing is cleaner, the characters are varied and well drawn, and most of all, the plot is believably complex and full of shocking twists. Highly recommended.”
Library Journal

“Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade would give an appreciative nod to John March, the shrewd, no-nonsense PI in Peter Spiegelman’s superlative series . . . Spiegelman renders crisp, chilling prose and characters who are edgy and complex . . . He vividly evokes a Manhattan besieged by blizzards. But even a blanket of white can’t muffle its residents’ dark deeds.”
–Allison Block, The Strand magazine

“A satisfying meal for any fan of Manhattan P.I. novels . . . Spiegelman stakes a strong claim to Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder turf.”

“New York City PI John March loves his work, and it’s this passion that keeps him where readers will want him in the future: on the job . . . [Spiegelman] continues to be one of today’s best practitioners of neo-noir.”
Publishers Weekly

“If Peter Spiegelman’s story of sibling entanglements and an internet hook-up gone bad didn't yank me right in–which it did–and if his characters weren’t vivid and his dialogue pitch-perfect–which they are–I’d still read him for his chisel-sharp prose. In Red Cat Spiegelman reaches a new peak.  Don’t miss it.”
–S.J. Rozan, author of In This Rain

“John March returns to the crime scene in the third installment of an impressive series . . . The book’s premise is certainly inventive–an old plot of sexual intrigue is nestled within a shiny new plot about techno culture–and John March is a worthy heir to the hardboiled detective. The moral landscape of the minor characters is richly drawn, pulsing with petty evils that call to mind the work of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. John March is perhaps less like Philip Marlowe than he is like Bill Smith, S.J. Rozan’s updated Chandleresque detective, but he will doubtless become Smith and Marlowe’s peer in the future. Gritty atmosphere and clever plotting enhance a fine addition to the noir tradition.”
–Kirkus Reviews

Red Cat is the best mystery I've read in a long time. Taut, gritty, and beautifully written, the story moves along at a relentless clip.  But Spiegelman's greatest talent–and what sets him far above his contemporaries–can be found in his evocation of character. John March is one of the great fictional PI’s of the past decade. Conflicted, sympathetic, and brilliantly brought to life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is my pleasure to heartily recommend it.” 
–Christopher Reich, author of The Patriots Club

“Peter Spiegelman is one of the finest PI writers around, and Red Cat is his edgiest and most accomplished work yet. The plot unfolds at breakneck speed, the twists are startling, the climax wrenching, and the writing is flat-out beautiful. But beyond these considerable pleasures, Spiegelman has crafted a nuanced and satisfying novel about siblings, marriages, and self-created prisons. It’s a story that stays with you, and if you haven’t discovered Spiegelman and PI John March yet, you’re missing something great.”
–Joseph Finder, author of Killer Instinct

Red Cat is totally seductive–smart, sharp, with an undercurrent of tension that runs like a subterranean stream beneath the city.”
–Don Winslow, author of The Winter of Frankie Machine

“In Red Cat, Spiegelman has created the ultimate femme fatale. Wren is one of the most alluring, lethal, fascinating women to come along in over a decade. The novel is also a heart-wrenching study of family dysfunction with all its twisted love, buried simmering resentment and misplaced loyalty. This novel literally seethes. The third outing of John March moves Spiegelman into the top bracket of mystery’s elite, the rare number who are indeed a must read.”
–Ken Bruen, author of The Killing of the Tinkers