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Red 1-2-3 Hardcover – January 7, 2014
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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"[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
John Katzenbach is a master of terror. . . . The novel draws the reader in and moves along quickly, giving the reader reasons to cheer for the women to defeat the killer. . . . Recommended for mystery readers.”—Curled Up With a Good Book
Top Customer Reviews
The nub of the matter is: His recent books, including this one, are not as good as those books. But they are not bad books. I've read every one of them and each is an entertaining, escapist read which I completely enjoyed. However, if someone asked me what to read first with this author, I would write down the four titles I just listed in the prior paragraph, not this one. This is what you read after you've read his earlier great books. There are very few authors who are able to maintain the same quality of work for decade after decade. So he is not alone in his work being less than it once was.
This plot concerns three red haired women from diverse backgrounds who are selected by a serial killer to be his next victims. He sees them as Red Riding Hood 1, 2 and 3. They see him as the Big Bad Wolf. He tells them that he is coming to kill them. He first sends them letters and then begins escalating his activities with each of them. Can they outwit the Big Bad Wolf? In a nutshell, that is this book.
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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.Read more ›
Red 2 - Sarah Locksley is a former school teacher. She lost her husband and young daughter in an auto accident. Every day is a day of grieving for her.
Red 3 - Jordan Ellis is a college student. Having a lot of difficulty dealing with her parents' divorce. She's acting out and failing all her classes.
What do these women have in common? For one, they are all redheads. For another, they are all being stalked by the same man and have received letters from "BBW" stating he is going to kill them. They have all been selected randomly --- or have they?
The BigBadWolf is how he thinks of himself. He is an older man, an author of murder mysteries from several years past. He feels forgotten, abandoned. He wants to leave this world after committing the perfect murder. Kill the three redheads hours apart on the same day, while writing a "fictional" book describing what it's like to be a killer.
This is a quiet romp through a madman's mind as he plots and stalks and plans multiple murders. But the action picks up in leaps and bounds when the Reds meet and do some planning of their own.
It's not listed as such, but I regard this one as a psychological thriller. The book is very well written. The characters are fascinating, as they are all so flawed, so incomplete, and how they deal with this situation changes all of their lives.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As always John Katzenbach has come up with a winner in RED 1-2-3.Published 1 month ago by Mark Hale
I don't want to give anything away but this is a thriller in the truest sense of the word. A crime fiction author who truly understand s the murders he writes about because hi IS... Read morePublished 2 months ago by shyattern
This book starts out strong and just keeps going. I want to read everything this writer has written. Be careful all the redheads out there......Published 7 months ago by jenna ashe griffin
Fairy Tales are often sanitized and this is one read that one in particular is just that--sanitized. Great book.Published 8 months ago by wpbparrothead
I have followed John Katzenbach's stories since "Just Cause". While "Red" was frightingly scary and had moments of brilliant tension it just didn't measure up to... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Geraldine Satz
Tough to put this one down. Although not quite as well written as past books, the author keeps the pace moving and provided plenty of suspense at all stages. Read morePublished 8 months ago by W. C. McCormack
Could not put it down. Being a former redhead, I really got pulled in. Really the kind of story you don't want to be alone!Published 9 months ago by Barbara Cotter