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The Red Chameleon

The Red Chameleon

4.0 1
by Erica Wright

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Kathleen Stone’s ability to blend in makes her an ace private investigator, but when a cheating spouse she is tailing ends up dead she fears that someone from her past has seen through her disguises.
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


Kathleen Stone’s ability to blend in makes her an ace private investigator, but when a cheating spouse she is tailing ends up dead she fears that someone from her past has seen through her disguises.
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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of this riveting crime novel from poet Wright (Instructions for Killing the Jackal), PI Kat Stone, a former NYPD undercover detective, discovers the dead body of Stephen Kramer, the unfaithful husband she’s been tailing, in the men’s room of an Upper East Side bar. When Kat begins to look like the most likely suspect in Kramer’s shooting murder, Det. Ellis Dekker, who’s in charge of the case and a friend of Kat’s, vouches for her innocence and brings her unofficially into the investigation. After someone breaks into both her home and office, Kat begins to think that her former undercover activities might be catching up with her. Painful repressed memories start to surface that touch on the reason she resigned from the police force at age 25. A possible romance with Ellis adds to the intrigue, as does the appearance of a past lover. Readers will want to see more of the humorous, thoroughly engaging Kat. Agent: Penn Whaling, Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency. (June)
O Magazine (featured in 'Killing It: The Summer's Best Thrillers')
“Kathleen Stone is a private investigator well versed in the art of disguise. Her wigs, costumes and varied personae come in handy in the fight against a revenge-minded villain from her days in the NYPD.”
The New York Times Book Review
“There's something very appealing about Kathleen Stone, a quick-change artist who can slip into the persona of Katie, Kat, Kitty, Kathy, Kate, Katya—or her personal favorite, 15-year-old Keith—at the drop of a hat or, more likely, the switch of a wig.”
Parnell Hall
“A fast and funny private eye novel featuring Kathleen Stone, a kick-ass disguise artist who's a hoot under any name in any wig.”
Chris Grabenstein
“Erica Wright is such a wonderful writer, you'll be burning through the pages faster than a chameleon changes colors.”
Jim Fusilli
“Erica Wright's The Red Chameleon is a gift to devotees of classical private-eye novels as well as contemporary crime fiction.”
Justin Kramon
“The Red Chameleon introduces us to a thrilling new hardboiled world. Wright has created a rich and nuanced protagonist, as well as a gripping plot, and she writes in a style agile enough to veer into surprising pockets of emotion.”
Melodie Johnson Howe
“A complex tale filled with humor and sharply drawn characters, Erica Wright takes the reader on a thrilling ride where confronting evil can scare you into hiding or help you come out of the shadows.”
Carolyn Haines
“The Red Chameleonis a fast, exciting read that mystery lovers will consume in huge gulps.”
Kirkus Reviews
Her cover blown, an undercover cop reinvents herself as a whole company of private investigators.Kathleen Stone's days on the NYPD left her with two things: an unscratchable itch for fellow cop Ellis Dekker and the skill to fade into the background in a way the 6-foot-2, ice-blond Dekker never could. Once the Costa gang makes her, though, Kathleen's net worth as a cop plummets to near zero. So she swaps her badge for a dozen wigs. Now, in two seconds, she can become Katy, Kat, Kitty, Katya—whomever her client du jour needs to get the goods on a cheating spouse or light-fingered partner. In her favorite black dress and spiffy red bob, she becomes Kathy Seasons, charming hedge fund hawks at Hamilton's while tailing Stephen Kramer, suspected of infidelity by his wife, Gloria. When Kramer gets popped in the men's room, Kathy runs from the bar, ditches the wig and resourcefully turns into 15-year-old Keith to give the police the slip. As ash-blonde Kate, Kathleen stakes out the Kramers' apartment in time to see young stud Leif Nichols pay the widow Kramer a two-hour condolence call. The next day, she's back as flame-haired Kathy, alleged real estate broker drafted to find a condo for James Clifton, a Wall Street wolf who happened to be in Hamilton's the day Kramer got offed. Between Clifton and Gloria Kramer, Kathleen has her hands full. But she still has time for a quick tryst with Marco, her alternative to the cagey Dekker; a trip out to Suffolk County with her doe-eyed secretary, Meeza; and a couple more corpses.All those rapid-fire costume changes give a jumpy feel to Wright's fast-paced, quirky debut.
Library Journal
Meet Kathleen Stone, an ex-NYPD officer who is now a private investigator and a mistress of disguises (with the help of the best wigmaker in NYC). Her latest case involves trailing her client's possibly cheating husband. Stone follows him into a bar where he is killed in the men's room. Her suspicions are raised when the wife-turned-widow pays off Stone's contract with a nice bonus attached. As Stone continues to follow clues and work with her former police friends, she fears that her history as an undercover cop may be interfering with her present investigation. VERDICT Wright's debut novel offers a promising start to a hard-boiled series featuring an idiosyncratic female PI whose quirkiness will appeal to fans of Linda Barnes or Karen Kijewski. While the action is sometimes slowed down by excessively repeated wig details, the author gives tantalizing glimpses into Stone's undercover career that one hopes will be developed more to help further explain some of her unusual behaviors. The supporting characters are also well developed and absorbing.—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Erica Wright is a senior editor at Guernica Magazine. Her first novel featuring P. I. Kathleen Stone, The Red Chameleon, was published by Pegasus Books in 2014. Erica lives in Florida.

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The Red Chameleon 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Red Chameleon is the perfect summer read and a real page turner. It has just the right amounts of twists and turns, but never gets too complicated to follow. It’s sexy, but not sentimental and doesn’t  have an ending that ties up too neatly. It's a cut above the usual crime novel with a well-developed and complex heroine who feels very true to life. Kat Stone makes errors and suffers the consequences instead of having things work out magically. I can’t wait for the sequel. -Deborah Hauser 
DarkRavenDH More than 1 year ago
Book Review: Friday, July 17, 2015 The Red Chameleon by Erica Wright Kathleen Stone used to be one of NYPD’s finest. When an undercover assignment gone wrong almost cost her her life, Kathleen was forced to make drastic changes. With a very real death threat chasing her courtesy of Salvatore Magrelli, Stone reinvents herself as a Private Investigator. To avoid the likes of Salvatore Magrelli tacking her down, Kathleen Stone becomes Kathy Seasons, Katya Lincoln, Kat, Katie, Katrina, and sometimes even a young man named Kevin. This chameleon-like ability is very helpful, as most of her cases involve checking up on cheating spouses. Danger has decided not to let go of Kathleen Stone without a fight. While doing surveillance on a man named Kramer, Kathy Seasons finds him face down in a bathroom stall, shot in the head. Managing to get away from the scene, Kathy makes a quick change into another identity, Kat, and alerts the police The next day finds Kathy collecting her paycheck from Mrs. Kramer. But there is much hesitation over chasing it, although she is in desperate need of the money. You may take Kathleen Stone off the NYPD, but it is much harder to flush the NYPD out of Kathleen Stone. Her suspicion is aroused. What if Mrs. Kramer killed her husband herself? What if she hired someone to do the deed? Could she have only been hired to tail Kramer so she would make a convenient suspect? And the fact that the Detective in charge of the case, Ellis Dekker, is an old acquaintance doesn’t improve the feeling of doom Stone has deep in her guts. Erica Wright has invented a character here that will capture the heart of readers and make them eager to see what each turn of the page will bring. Kathleen Stone winds in and out of characters as she struggles to ascertain why not only Mr. Kramer has been killed, but another person, a Samantha Evans has been discovered dead. Wright allows the reader to feel the frustration of the young PI, who finds herself suspected of both murders. And worse, Kathleen will have to work with Detective Dekker, going into dangerous situations without even her trusty Smith and Wesson .22, because Dekker confiscates it early on. Wright’s prose flows like a singing brook as she takes Kathleen into deeper and darker dangers with each passing chapter. Her apartment is trashed and her wigs, the source of her amazing identities destroyed. An undercover trip into a suspicious rehab as Kennedy Vanders goes south in a hurry. She is threatened by a woman with a rifle. Someone puts a scorpion into her bed. She nearly dies from anaphylactic shock. The finale finds she trapped in the dark with a killer who has a silencer on his or her automatic. This novel will grab your interest from the word go and hold you hypnotized until the final page. I note here that there is a second Kathleen Stone novel The Granite Moth mentioned on the back cover. I look forward to reading it. This new character will prove to be a winner if I am any judge. Kathleen Stone has extreme depths that have yet to be discovered. Tantalizing hints and clues only make a reader eager for more. This book receives five out of five stars from this reviewer. Quoth the Raven…