RED 1-2-3 by John Katzenbach

RED 1-2-3

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A disturbed author and devotee of crime fiction who views writing and killing as parts of the same intimate process targets three redheaded women in what he considers the grandest homicidal scheme ever.

It has been 15 years since the Big Bad Wolf, as he calls himself, published a novel or killed anyone to give himself source material. After a series of well-received books, he suffered a decline in sales and attention. Attempting a comeback in his New England town, he plans on killing in quick succession a middle-aged internist, Karen, who practices stand-up comedy at night (Red 1); a young teacher, Sarah (Red 2), who has turned to vodka and barbiturates to get over the deaths of her husband and child in an accident; and a troubled high school basketball player, Jordan (Red 3), angry over her parents' divorce. What BBW doesn't envision is that after delivering a letter to each of these targets informing them they have been "selected" for death, they will cope with their fears, discover each other and attempt to turn the plot against him. When Mrs. Big Bad Wolf, the killer's meek but inquisitive wife, senses something amiss is going on behind his locked office door, BBW has another complication for which he was not prepared. No less methodical than his killer, Katzenbach (What Comes Next, 2012, etc.; three of his previous novels have been made into films) lays out the book's premise with efficiency. The bonding of the damsels in distress lends a strong human element to the proceedings and a touch of dark humor. Ultimately, the novel fails to deliver more than a few medium chills, and the climax is a letdown. But the suggestion there may be a sequel is as intriguing as it is welcome.

“Little Red Riding Hood” has been taken on scarier spins in recent times, but the age-old tale provides a lively premise for this thriller about stalked women.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2205-6
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Mysterious Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2013


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