Black Maps ("A stunner, a great debut roaring out of the gate"--Newsday) . . . Death's Little Helpers ("Breaks new ground in detective fiction"--The Washington Post) . . . and now Red Cat, the third riveting installment in Peter Spiegelman's thrilling series of novels featuring the brooding New York City private investigator John March.
With a troubled past and a job that attracts too much attention from the law, March has always been the black sheep of his staid merchant-banking family. Which makes the identity of his latest client all the more surprising: his smug older brother David.
David is desperate and deeply scared, and with good reason: a woman he met on the Internet, and then for several torrid sexual encounters, is stalking him. David knows her only as Wren, but she seems to know everything about him--and she's threatening to tell all to his wife and his colleagues. His marriage, his career, and his reputation at stake, David wants John to find this woman and warn her off. Reeling from these revelations, John begins the search for Wren, and what he discovers both alarms and fascinates him. Part actress, part playwright, part performance-artist and noir pornographer, Wren is a powerfully compelling mystery--though no more so, John discovers, than his own brother.
But when a body surfaces in the East River, March suddenly finds he's no longer searching for a stalker. Now he's hunting a killer--and following a trail that leads ever closer to David's door. . . .
At the start of Spiegelman's fine third crime novel to feature New York City PI John March (after Black Maps and Death's Little Helpers), March's Wall Street executive brother, David, comes to March for help with a particularly nasty problem. David has been having torrid sex with a woman he met on the Internet who goes by the name of Wren, and now she's threatening to go public with their affair. David stands to lose his wife and his job unless March can find out what's going on. It turns out that Wren's not a blackmailer--she's a performance artist who videotapes men cheating on their wives, then sells the tapes to art collectors. When Wren turns up dead, David becomes the chief suspect. The melancholy March, his personal life in tatters, hovers constantly on the edge of depression, but he loves his work, and it's this passion that keeps him where readers will want him in the future: on the job. Spiegelman doesn't break new ground, but he continues to be one of today's best practitioners of neo-noir. (Feb.) Copyright (c) Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 05, 2007
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Excerpt from Red Cat by Peter Spiegelman
I'd seen him angry plenty of times. I'd seen him dismissive, contemptuous, reproachful, and mocking too--and, more often than not, I'd seen that bad karma pointed in my direction. But in the thirty- four years I'd known him, I'd never seen my brother quite like this before. I'd never seen him scared.
David ran a hand through his ginger hair and knocked it from its slick alignment. He rose from my sofa and whisked imaginary dust from his spotless gray trousers and paced again before the long wall of windows. I shook my head, as much from the surprise of him turning up at my door on a Monday morning--or, indeed, any time--as from what I'd heard.
"Jesus Christ, David--on the Internet? What the hell were you thinking?"
He stopped to look out at the rooftops and at the sun, struggling up an iron January sky. Reflected in the window glass, his face was lean and sharp-featured--fairer-haired, lighter-eyed, more sour and lined than my own, but still too similar. At six feet tall he was barely an inch shorter than I, but he seemed smaller than that now. His smile was tight and bitter.
"Is this your usual approach with prospective clients--to interrupt their stories so you can exercise your own disapproval?" He flicked at a speck of nothing on the sleeve of his suit jacket.
The irony of him complaining about my disapproval was lost on David just then, but I fought the urge to point it out. Nor did I comment that he wasn't so much telling his story as wandering around the edges of it. I knew it would be futile. Unsure of what to do with his fear, and unused to discussing it with anyone, least of all with me, David was falling back on more familiar and reliable behaviors, like annoyed and patronizing. I'd seen clients go through it before; fighting didn't help.
David turned around and made an elaborate survey of my loft--the kitchen at one end, the bedroom and bath at the other, the high ceilings, cast-iron columns, bookshelves, and sparse furnishings in between. He pursed his lips in disapproval. "I haven't been here since it was Lauren's," he said. Lauren was our younger sister, and still the owner of the apartment. I'd been subletting the place for the past five years. "She did more with it," he added. I kept quiet. David wandered to a bookshelf and eyed the titles and smirked.
"Do people still read poetry?" he said. "People besides you, I mean."
I sighed, and tried to bring him back to at least the neighborhood of his problem. "You exchanged names with this woman?"
His smirk vanished. "First names only, and not our real ones. At least, the one I gave her wasn't real. I called myself Anthony."
"And she . . . ?"
"Wren. She called herself Wren."
"But now she knows your name--your real name."
David smoothed his hair and smoothed his steel-blue tie. "Yes. When I think about it, it wouldn't have been difficult. My wallet was in my suit jacket, and my suit jacket was in the closet or on the back of a chair. She could have gone through it while I was in the bathroom. I should have been more careful about that sort of thing, I suppose, but I assumed we both wanted anonymity. That is the point, after all."
"The point of . . . ?"
David lifted his eyebrow to a familiar, impatient angle. "The point of the websites. The point of using words like 'casual' and 'discreet' in your posts."
I nodded slowly. "You're pretty familiar with the conventions." David looked at me and said nothing. "By which I mean: I assume it wasn't the first time you'd used one of these sites."
He cut me off. "How is this relevant?"
I drained my coffee mug, rubbed the last smudges of sleep from my eyes, and counted to ten. "I don't know what's relevant and what's not. I'm still trying to get the lay of the land."
David sniffed. "Suffice it to say, there were other sites and other women."