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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 (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #730,779 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Online Book Reviews 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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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Brian Baker VINE VOICE on December 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Let me put it even more bluntly: this book stinks on ice.

Katzenbach is the very talented writer who brought us "In The Heat Of The Summer" and "Hart's War" (among other books), making this an even greater disappointment. When I saw it in the bookstore, I eagerly snatched it up. Unfortunately, it was so bad I finally gave up on it completely a bit over halfway through.

It's supposed to be a riff on the Red Riding Hood fable. I'm not seeing it, other than three women who share the trait of having red hair are targeted as victims by a nutcase serial killer who calls himself the Big Bad Wolf.

The problems of this book are legion, the most egregious of which is that it's just plain flat-out boring.

The three potential victims - who band together to try to defeat their intended murderer - are women whose lives have reached junctures at which they feel generally hopeless, and a lot of time is spent describing their back stories and circumstances. I didn't feel in any way engaged at all with any of them. They were boring and mundane people. Frankly, I couldn't have cared less.

The killer is a guy on the cusp of geezerdom who feels like he wants to recapture the "glory" of his youth as a successful serial killer/author (he was a published author who wrote "fiction" books that were actually recountings of his early kills), as well as the anonymous notoriety he savored as a serial killer at large.

To sum up: boring characters, plodding pacing, silly plot, no dramatic tension ever builds up.

On the plus side: the font was easy to read, and if I ever want to start a fire in my fireplace and run out of kindling, I now have plenty of scrap paper on hand.
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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marie Silverman on January 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Anyone who appreciates psychological crime thrillers and top-notch writing will like John K's books. His most recent 'Red 1-2-3' is no exception. Highly recommend!
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