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Black Maps (John March Mysteries) Hardcover – August 12, 2003

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Product Details

  • Series: John March Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (August 12, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400040752
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400040759
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,898,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After a lengthy, but never boring, setup, Spiegelman's first novel pitches from one taut, suspenseful scene to another, with New York PI John March at the center but also including an impressive cast of allies, adversaries and interlopers. The author lays out the collapse of financial giant MWB (Merchant's Worldwide Bank) and the subsequent federal investigations in detail. March's friend, lawyer Michael Metz, hires him to help a client, an officer at a major investment bank. It appears that fallout from MWB's collapse has prompted a blackmailer to use information seemingly derived from MWB documents to threaten Metz's client with exposure that would ruin his career. Real or manufactured, this data would be damaging. March must be careful, of course, not to step on federal toes. From computers to shoe leather, March's dogged search is entertaining, plausible and ultimately dangerous. Nothing about this stylish, literate mystery reads like a debut, as Spiegelman handles the complex plot with verve and artfully sets the stage for a backstory with mere hints about the trauma that drove March from upstate cop to PI. John March is one of the most intriguing new PIs to come along in quite some time, and if this strong first outing is any indication, he should be in for a long and enjoyable run.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Spiegelman knows where the bodies are buried and he knows how to write. Impressive.”– Jonathan Kellerman

"A stunner... [It] keeps readers in the dark until the very last page. Suspenseful narrative, superb characters, and a prevailing atmosphere of Chandler-esque melancholy. . .to ask for more in a mystery would be criminal.”– Newsday

“Spiegelman has great timing. . . . A first-rate thriller from a first-rate novelist.” --Rocky Mountain News

“Spiegelman has a fine eye for the details of Manhattan corporate life . . . An important and facinating book.” --Chicago Tribune

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I look forward to his next book.
John Woods
In other words so very descriptive that sometimes whole pages were dedicated to this, and they came quite often as there were quite a few characters.
His characters are well developed and the plot, while complicated, is easy to follow.
Don M Howard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As an avid mystery reader, I am always looking for the next "new thing" in the genre. I think that I have found it. Black Maps is an exciting debut in what I hope will become a long series of mysteries set in my hometown of NYC.
The writer spins an exciting and complex tale that gives equal weight to atmosphere, character development, action, and of course, plot. He draws the reader into the world of banking and Wall Street. While he does present some pretty detailed and technical financial information, he does so with such style and ease, that it neither boring, nor difficult to follow.
John March easily has to be the most exciting new PI character to come on the scene in a awhile. Like most detective characters, he's tough, smart, and always skeptical -- but that's where the similarities end. He's the black sheep of a well to do family, plus he's also got a boat load of guilt to contend with, thanks to the untimely death of his wife. (Hopefully that story will be developed in a prequel someday!) He's also got some unusual hobbies for a PI -- running, music, and reading, to name a few, which make him quite interesting, and a true New Yorker.
Black Maps is a great read for any fan of fiction, mystery, NYC, or of great writing. In fact, I'd have to say that thing that most excites me about Spiegelman is his writing style. Its quality is well beyond what most people would expect in a book of this genre. If you love to read, get this book.
One last comment, if there are any Steely Dan fans out there reading this review, you should definitely read this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack Lanseur on September 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Spiegelman accomplishes a great deal with his debut novel, _Black Maps_, and foremost among these is the introduction of John March, a New York private investigator who is doubly haunted: First, he is the black-sheep scion of an established Manhattan banking family---shattering family tradition, he became a cop in upstate New York. Second, and far more painfully, he is a widower---March's wife was murdered by a serial killer, whom March ultimately made pay---whose pain tore him from his upstate life forever.
Now back in New York City and a PI, he narrates us through his world and his latest case, that of a good, self-made man who once had dealings with the notorious money-laundering Merchants Worldwide Bank and has now become the target of a ruthless and ingenious blackmailer.
John March is a thoroughly engrossing character. Erudite, classy, and insightful, he is also tough, exceptionally street-savvy, and (as we learn more than once) damn quick with his fists. Imagine if Sam Spade had gone to an Ivy League school, or if the Thin Man had spent his formative years throwin' down with the neighborhood bad boys. Via Mr. Spiegelman's linguistic artistry, March's descriptions---of New York, of the fascinating characters he encounters (including some of the mystery blackmailer's other victims, members of March's psychologically complex family, his attractive new neighbor, and both a loyal friend and a despicable foe from his dark past), of EVERYTHING---are absolutely engaging. [As a side note, this reviewer is a Manhattan ex-pat, and I can tell you that both Mr. Spiegelman and his protagonist DEFINITELY know New York.
Read more ›
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If anyone knows the price of fame it is John March, a former upstate New York law enforcement official. John gained his fifteen minutes of distinction when he solved a serial killer case, but at the cost of the murderer killing his spouse. Leaving his job to drown his sorrow and guilt with the bottle, John eventually relocates to Manhattan to work as a private investigator.
College friend attorney Mike Metz arranges for John to help investment banker Rick Pierro. Someone is blackmailing Rick using documentation from as late as eighteen years ago that alleges the financier was part of a money-laundering scheme. The culprit threatens Rick's career by aborting a major promotion to the executive committee if the allegations became known. Rick wants John to find the extortionist in order to strike a deal until the selections are made in five weeks. Though accounting forensics is outside his lane, John accepts the case. However, the FBI tells him to stay out or else face charges of impeding a federal investigation while John's inquiries go nowhere except to a missing financier.
BLACK MAPS takes the white collar out of the financial mystery by placing it inside an urban noir private investigative tale with a blue-collar attitude due to the hero. The story line is somewhat complex because of the fiscal dealings, but more so because of John who swims in a salty sea filled with tuxedo sharks with he being a fresh water guppy. Though his angst and guilt at times feels overwhelming, the lead character is a strong individual. Peter Spiegelman needs to write more adventures of John in the land of Wall Street.
Harriet Klausner
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Wellen on November 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Black Maps is fine debut for Spiegelman. March is a very strong character, one that you look forward to growing with. The is not wholly original, but still a well done thriller. The ending has twists and turns that don't strain credibility (a huge advantage in this day and age of insane "top this" thrillers) and offer some geniune surprises. Spiegleman spends far too much time detailing the minute details of apartments and couches and features of minor characters, but that is typical of some first time authors. A good start to a promising series.
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