cover image Red 1-2-3

Red 1-2-3

John Katzenbach. Grove/Atlantic/Mysterious, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2205-6

A frustrated, aging novelist plots to finally make his mark by meticulously planning three murders, to be subsequently linked in a sensational tell-all, in this twisted riff on Red Riding Hood from bestseller Katzenbach (What Comes Next). Targeting a diverse trio of titian-haired women within convenient stalking distance of his Massachusetts home, the self-styled Big Bad Wolf sets his sadistic scheme in motion with death threats to his “Reds”: stressed internist Karen Jayson; depressed widow Sarah Locksley; and defiant prep-school student Jordan Ellis. He proceeds to manipulate his panicking quarry, as well as his clueless wife, describing his activities with almost sensuous pleasure in his manuscript. But then the Reds manage to contact one another, and the game changes as they battle ingeniously to turn the tables. Katzenbach creates a convincing triad of sympathetic women who grow through their harrowing trials, but whether the payoff is enough to justify spending significant time with the Wolf remains a question of personal preference. Agent: Moses Cardona, John Hawkins and Associates. (Jan.)