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Red 1-2-3 Hardcover – January 7, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122056
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In the familiar cautionary tale about the little girl and the big bad wolf, the child wears a red hood. In Katzenbach’s skillful contemporary version, red hair attracts the predator, who targets not one but three vulnerable females, unknown to one another. Mr. Big Bad Wolf, a meticulous, confident, unprepossessing crime writer (who bases his books on crimes he commits), has been inactive for a number of years, but his new idea—killing all three women on the same day—is simply too thrilling to pass up. He’s convinced that his “project” will regenerate his moribund career and spice up his humdrum home life. After many weeks, he is finally ready to put his plan into action, and he’s virtually salivating at the prospect. Mr. BBW’s work notes clearly reveal his megalomania as well as how he very deliberately chose and stalked his prey. First there’s Karen, a lonely, middle-aged doctor, oldest of the three; then Sarah, a grief-stricken widow who has turned to alcohol and pills; finally, teenage Jordan, smart but directionless, whose parents are too wrapped up in their divorce to care about her. Wolf is convinced his brilliant, scrupulously detailed plan can’t fail. After all, who will miss these damaged women? Unfortunately, there’s something he never considered. It’s called group dynamics. Like Katzenbach’s What Comes Next (2012), this is a page-turner from the get-go and must reading for thriller fans. --Stephanie Zvirin

Review

“A first-rate thriller.”—Huntington News

"[Katzenbach's] novels are reliably smart and intriguing, featuring characters who are off-kilter in various ways . . . presented in a cinematic narrative that yanks the reader in from the first page. . . . This is indeed an edge-of-your-seat thriller, in many ways one of Katzenbach's best works to date."—Bookreporter

“In the familiar cautionary tale about the little girl and the big bad wolf, the child wears a red hood. In Katzenbach’s skillful contemporary version, red hair attracts the predator, who targets not one but three vulnerable females. . . . This is a page-turner from the get-go and must reading for thriller fans.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Katzenbach creates a convincing triad of sympathetic women who grow through their harrowing trials.”—Publishers Weekly

"No one portrays the mind of a sociopathic killer better than John Katzenbach, who is in superb form with this psychological thriller, a vivid cat-and-mice game in which the mice strive to outwit and outplay the cat."—William Bayer, Edgar Award-winning author of Peregrine and Switch

“[RED 1-2-3] gives us a long look into the mind of a killer. . . . Katzenbach is an excellent writer and adds vivid details to really bring his characters to life.”—Reviewing the Evidence

“Katzenbach has a diabolical talent for working changes on this basic plot. . . . The whole deal gets more delicious when the Big Bad Wolf’s wife enters the picture. Katzenbach keeps on delivering this kind of wily stuff all the way to the book’s remarkably unmessy climax.”—Toronto Star

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Customer Reviews

This book will draw you in fast and not let go..... very fast paced mystery/ thriller with twists & turns & a "WOW" ending!
Sarah White
Very little action, uninteresting characters, a bad execution of premise, and an equally dumb ending were the highlights I took away from this novel.
J. Gorman
The problem is, aside from this idea, the book keeps the reader hanging thinking someone better is going to happen and nothing does.
Autumn Blues Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By the GreatReads! TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
What happens when three different women who didn’t know each other, but all living within a few miles of each other are targeted for murder?

Red 1-2-3 by John Katzenbach is a gripping psychological thriller about a demented killer who targets three women who seemingly have nothing in common other than their strikingly red hair, and how their only hope for surviving this fiendish plan is to turn the predator into the prey.

One was an internist. One was a public middle school teacher. One was a prep school student. They are seventeen, thirty-one and fifty-one. They had little in common, except for one obvious detail: they were all redheads.

Red One was standing by helplessly watching a man die when her letter was delivered. Red Two was dizzy with drugs, alcohol, and despair when her letter was dropped through the mail slot in the front door. Red Three was staring at a failure, thinking that more and far worse failures were awaiting her when her mail arrived. All the letters end, “….I know each of you is lost in the woods…you have been selected to die.”

A demented novelist, a writer of thrillers who is also a killer, decides to write himself into history by performing a perfect set of murders. Will he succeed? The killer had stalked and studied them for months. He thought he knew them all. But what he didn’t bargain for was for Karen, Sarah, and Jordan to join forces and turn him into prey. Red 1-2-3 is a thrilling piece of crime fiction. If you loved John Katzenbach’s earlier novels, this one is not to be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By TChris TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Red 1-2-3 is built on a clever premise. An undistinguished writer of crime fiction who happens to be a serial killer decides to write an instruction manual for serial killers. He has selected three redheads as victims to illustrate his methods. He intends to commit and memorialize the perfect crime because, well, he's getting old and feels the need for a legacy. By killing three women within hours of each other, each in a different way and after warning them of their fate, the writer believes he will take his place in the annals of serial killer history and launch his book to bestseller status.

Each Red receives a letter in the mail that begins with the opening of Little Red Riding Hood and ends with "You have been selected to die." One Red is a lonely doctor who performs remarkably unfunny standup comedy routines as a hobby. One is a former teacher and current lush whose husband and daughter died in an accident. The third is an angry high school student. They could form a support group for distressed redheads (which is sort of what they do). The would-be killer, of course, is the Big Bad Wolf. His wife, who is blissfully ignorant of her husband's hobby during most of their marriage (or perhaps she's willfully stupid), is Mrs. Big Bad Wolf.

John Katzenbach creates a strong psychological profile of the killer, making him a more substantial character than any of the Reds, who tend to be stereotypes. The sullen teenager is the most competent of the three Reds, but her notion of how to deal with an anonymous letter is an eye-roller. The simplest solution would be for each intended victim to change her hair color, thus screwing up the killer's theme and perhaps sending the killer in search of a new plan, but that never occurs to them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on January 29, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I will read anything that John Katzenbach writes. His novels are reliably smart and intriguing, featuring characters who are off-kilter in various ways --- some in a subtle manner, others not so much --- presented in a cinematic narrative that yanks the reader in from the first page. Katzenbach’s latest offering may be his most irresistible to date.

RED 1-2-3 presents a somewhat unique antagonist, an everyman of sorts who is nondescript in every way except for two: he is, or was, a thriller novelist of somewhat modest renown, and he is a killer. He has neither written a book nor murdered anyone for several years, but is about to make up for lost time in the small New England town where he has been quietly residing with his unsuspecting wife as they both make the transition from late middle age to seasoned citizen. Calling himself the “Big Bad Wolf,” or “BBW,” the author has sent anonymous letters to three women advising each of them that he is about to kill them. The only thing that the ladies have in common, other than the untoward attention of the BBW, is the red color of their hair. They are otherwise quite different from one another.

The first is a physician, divorced and comfortably single in her 50s. The second is widowed and in her mid-30s, a former teacher whose life was devastated by a sudden tragedy that left her alone and isolated, on a slow but inevitable course of self-destruction. The third is a high school senior at an exclusive prep school, a poor little rich girl who is caught in the not-so-friendly crossfire of her parents’ pending divorce. Each is terrified by the receipt of her respective letter, though they react in different ways. Their common thread is that they feel isolated and alone in their terror.
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