Red Cat Audio CD – Audiobook, CD
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Gould's precise diction, which proved to be surprisingly effective in his narration of Raymond Chandler's works, is just as satisfying in interpreting Spiegelman's new John March novel. And why not? Spiegelman has come closer to channeling Chandler than just about any other private eye writer in recent memory. March has a mindset and honor system remarkably similar to Chandler's Philip Marlowe. These are sleuths who use their brains along with their muscles, and Gould's careful enunciation reflects that. Through March's first-person narration, we walk the cold, sleet-slippery mean streets looking into the murder of a beautiful and promiscuous young woman. Gould creates an impressive lineup of characters: dumbing down his voice to become a lovesick bruiser, catching the hollow bravado of an actor in midlife crisis or adding a touch of East Coast snobbery to an assortment of quiet money types. Red Cat is a solid, stylishly written crime yarn, and Gould's interpretation turns it into a near-classic.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The third entry in the John March series will provide a satisfying meal for any fan of Manhattan PI novels. In fact, Spiegelman stakes a strong claim to Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder turf (although it is to be hoped Scudder won't cede that territory soon). This time out, the stoic and savvy March must track down brother David's most recent mistress before she follows through on her threat to confront David's wife. For a man who spurned his family's august investment firm to become a detective, it's a hard assignment to swallow--especially with the churlish David constantly shoving March's black-sheep status down his throat. Throw in March's relationship with a married woman who doesn't appreciate his questions about why spouses cheat, and the tension couldn't be much thicker--until his brother's fling gets flung into a river with five slugs in her face, that is. Her intriguing, disturbing backstory gives Spiegelman a chance to revisit a favorite theme: the severe damage family members can inflict on each other in a seemingly endless dance. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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John learns the female is Wren, who is not blackmailing David per say, but considers herself an artist selling her tapes of married men cheating with her to the highest bidding collector. The scenario takes a deadly spin when someone murders Wren. John assumes that a sex client committed the homicide, but wonders if righteous David could have performed the deed even as he ponders whether blood is thick enough to propel him to protect David especially if he turns out to be the killer.
Besides the family dynamics, RED CAT is a fabulous modern day Noir that brings the Internet fully into the sub-genre. John is terrific as he loathes his pompous "superior" older brother, but also resolves to do his best by him as he is family. Peter Spiegelman provides a great whodunit starring one of the best sleuths to hit the information age (see BLACK MAPS and DEATH'S LITTLE HELPERS).
Inventive, nimble, and knowing, Spiegelman cements his position as one of today's most gifted mystery writers with the action rich, yet strangely cerebral, Red Cat. John March is intelligent, sensitive and empathetic, a thinking man's gumshoe who brings a fresh perspective to the mystery genre. March is totally consumed by the difficult case, which leads him into some pretty volatile terrain, both professional and personal, teaching him lessons about himself and about his brother, with whom he has little in common. Although she never appears in a speaking role in this novel, Wren is a powerful presence in the book, exerting a strong influence over the people around her, and, eventually over John, as he comes to appreciate her as a person.
John March is Spiegelman's damaged Everyman --- an underachiever by the standards of his financially successful family --- who, as Spiegelman has subtly informed his readers over the course of three novels, is probably more intelligent than all of them put together. March is a quietly roiling mass of contradictions, a man who ultimately is unsuccessful at relationships whether it be with family, friends or lovers, but is intrigued by the machinations and interactions of individuals. His vocation as a private investigator in New York City provides him with plenty of grist to mill. Yet even he is surprised when his latest client turns out to be his outwardly superior brother, David, a successful merchant banker who is on the brink of losing everything he holds dear.
David, it seems, has a hobby that consists of conducting a series of affairs with women he meets over the Internet. The affairs are generally passionate, if short-lived, with everyone being very adult and sophisticated about their eventual termination. But then comes Wren, a mysterious woman who has provided David with sexual encounters unlike any he has previously experienced. When David seeks to discontinue the relationship, however, Wren begins calling his office and home, and sends him emails asking to see him and threatening to tell his wife about their trysts. David wants John to find Wren and warn her off, a task made difficult by the fact that David doesn't know where Wren lives or even what her real name is.
With a bit of dogged work, John is able to uncover Wren's identity and, with some more determination, finds her apartment. The apartment seems to be a dead end, even as he discovers that the woman his brother knows as Wren is an actress, a playwright and, most significantly, a pornographer. Everything changes, though, when a body that appears to be Wren's surfaces in the East River. John realizes that the trail of Wren's murderer leads directly back to David's door and that he needs to unravel all of Wren's secrets, even as he must face uncomfortable truths about David and himself.
RED CAT is a dark, brooding work, full of secrets, shame and desperation in even the most unexpected corners. Spiegelman's New York is full of shadows and sorrows, where survival at the end of the day passes for a grim happiness. His clarity of language and vision is such, however, that one cannot resist looking again and again at what is being lost and, in rare cases, being found. This is a book that simply cannot and should not be missed.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
John does not get too far into his search before a "Jane Doe" body with this unique tattoo is pulled from the river. David is considered a serious suspect and John tries to clear his brother despite his own doubts of David's innocence.
RED CAT is the third in a series with John March as protagonist. Although I have not read the earlier novels, I had no trouble following this compelling story. Mr. Spiegelman's debut novel, BLACK MAPS, won the Shamus Award for best first PI novel. It is easy to see why. The author has artfully crafted a noir PI novel that goes beyond the usual gumshoe genre and delves into the dark side of the human heart and family relationships.
RED CAT is a taut tale that also looks as such issues as the fine line between what is art and what is meaningless sleaze and pornography. The characters appear very real since it seems every week there are new sex scandals involving prominent people who should have known better. The author's pacing and dialog are perfect. The reader is pulled into the book from the first page and taken on a wild ride to the very last page.
If you enjoy a walk on the wild side, this is the book for you. I will be catching up on the author's previous novels very soon and looking forward to new ones in the near future.