Book review: Red 123

Thursday, October 31, 2013 Permalink

I generally dislike novels, TV shows or movies where I know the identity of the bad guy from the get-go. I’m not sure what that’s about. I guess I like the twists and turns of discovering it’s someone you least expect rather than getting to follow the ‘baddie’ all along.

John Katzenbach’s latest Red 1-2-3 does exactly that. We meet the Big Bad Wolf from the very beginning of the novel and are privy to his (somewhat psychopathic – or at least sociopathic!) exploits.

Wolf, a novelist-come-killer – yearning to achieve something memorable (or just because he thinks he can!) – decides to pull off a triple murder, targeting three women for no reason other than their red hair.

cover34271-mediumNaturally, he decides to taunt them first and starts with a threatening and anonymous letter drawing their attention to the less-savoury fate of their namesake – Little Red Riding Hood. (As an aside, she and Grandma were actually eaten in that version and the lumberjack cut them out of the wolf’s stomach!)

But, unfortunately for Wolf, he’s underestimated his victims, for they are far from that.

Realising they’ll receive no assistance from law enforcement until it’s too late, the disparate threesome band together to go on the offensive.

I’m a bit torn about this novel. On one hand I enjoyed the premise and most of the book, although the end was a tad disappointing.

However, while I felt that Katzenbach (through Wolf and the women themselves) allowed us to get to know the three Reds, I really didn’t feel I had much of a handle on Wolf himself. Given that he narrated much of the novel we should have had more insight (into him and his compulsions), but this sadly (in my opinion) wasn’t the case.

Red 1-2-3 does however, offer something different and the fear and anger which drives the three Reds to pursue Wolf  challenges us to ask ourselves: what lengths would we go to if we were being pursued by someone who threatened our life?

John Katzenbach’s Red 1-2-3, published by Grove Atlantic, will be available from January 2014.

* I received an advanced copy of this novel via NetGalley for review purposes.

  • Lou Lou
    October 31, 2013

    I don’t know what lengths I would go to but I think I would have to use creativity rather than violence to protect myself.

    • Debbish
      October 31, 2013

      Yes, it’s interesting isn’t it?!

  • Char
    November 1, 2013

    This is one book I won’t be recommending to Sam’s girlfriend. She’s go the most beautiful red hair – the book might give her nightmares.

  • Satu
    November 5, 2013

    I didn’t know Katzenbach had a new book out. I’ve enjoyed some of his earlier books – though not all of them.

    • Debbish
      November 5, 2013

      It’s not actually out yet Satu – although the release dates vary from country to country obviously. I often have no idea if the publisher I’m requesting the book from is based in the US or UK (or elsewhere!).


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