Book Reviews

Review — The Red Chameleon by Erica Wright

Book title: The Red Chameleon
Author: Erica Wright
Publisher: Pegasus Crime (Pegasus Books)
Release date: May 2015
Format: Paperback, 239 pages
Source: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Iris and Pegasus Books!



As a private investigator, Kathleen Stone relies on her ability to blend into the background. Aided by her street-smart drag queen friend and the best wigmaker in New York City, she feels confident that her camouflage is up to snuff. But when a cheating spouse she’s been trailing ends up dead under suspicious circumstances, she fears that someone she angered in her past job–busting gangs and drug dealers as an undercover cop–has seen through her disguises. Now she must work with her former colleagues in the NYPD to solve the case before she’s the next victim.

The review:

Kathleen Stone is a Private Investigator and ex-NYPD undercover cop. Her current job has her tailing a potentially cheating husband… until the man ends up murdered and Kat finds herself trying to solve a “whodunit?” case. The mystery, while a pretty standard plot, does have many layers that get uncovered and explored. This is both a good and a not so good thing. Good, because the mystery is actually pretty complex at times, but not always so good because I found myself forgetting various things brought up and mentioned. The plot sprawled a bit too much for my taste.

There are some great aspects of the book, don’t get me wrong. Perhaps one of my favorite parts is the setting: New York City, almost exclusively Manhattan. This book was written by a New Yorker, poet Erica Wright, and this book was read by a New Yorker — me! It was very cool following Kathleen around my crib. All the locations were explained accurately and in detail. Rest assured that the author isn’t making assumptions about the setting!

Kat Stone was an interesting protagonist. Despite making some seemingly amateur decisions for an ex-undercover cop, she felt very real. Her voice sounded current; she appeared like any young woman her age living in today’s world, complete with the appropriate snark. (I love snark and snarky characters. Kat’s not an overly snarky person, but her quips are well used and placed.)

Kathleen’s also a chameleon — she has many identities and different wigs to accompany them. Going into the book I was skeptical that her multiple personas would be a gimmick, but they, thankfully, are not. I never had too much trouble keeping her different identities straight, but I found that each and every one of her characters didn’t act a whole lot different. It was still Kathleen Stone under it all. Which I actually prefer; I want to get attached to a protagonist instead of having them be five different people at the same time.

The supporting characters make up a good cast, but I wish they’d all been fleshed out some more. I’m sure we’ll get to know them better in future books, though. Meeza was definitely my favorite. She had a great energy to her and really complemented Kat’s personality. Plus, she cracked me up. I liked Dolly, but I wanted him to have more page time, and play a more prominent role in everything. Then there were the two guys Kathleen has histories with: Detective Ellis Dekker and undercover agent Marco Medina. Both men are very different, and it’s obvious Kat still has deep feelings for both of them (and for each of them, vice versa with her). I liked Ellis for his patience and dedication, and for his faith in Kat, and I liked Marco for his raw edges and air of mystery. Ellis is a much more prominent character than Marco in the book, but I thought that Kathleen and Marco had more chemistry together.

The Red Chameleon is a good mystery with solid writing that flows well and is upbeat. The pacing, however, while never slow, didn’t always entice me. It took me a while to motivate myself to read more than just a chapter or two at a time. A reason for this is probably the plot, which, while perfectly fine, isn’t wholly original. There are no surprising or unique spins. The case wasn’t rich or funky enough to completely hook me in, but I did mostly enjoy The Red Chameleon. It was entertaining to see where Kathleen was snooping around, and I think she is a compelling character with much room to grow. ♦

So tell me…

Have you read The Red Chameleon? If you haven’t, would you be interested to? What was the last crime/mystery book you read? What is a book you’ve read that is set in New York City? Comment below letting me know! And, as always, happy reading!

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