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Black Maps (John March #1)

3.57  ·  Rating Details ·  315 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
Years after the personal tragedy that scarred his life, Private Investigator John March lives a twilight existence in Manhattan. He is tough and ruthlessly efficient in his professional life, yet introspective and vulnerable when it comes to his relationships with women. And he struggles daily to maintain a tenuous armed truce with his memories. March's latest case threate ...more
Published January 6th 2005 by Arrow (first published January 1st 2003)
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Amorak Huey
You have to like a PI procedural that has as its epigraph a quote from a Mark Strand poem and whose main character reads Raymond Carver.

Despite that, though, BLACK MAPS (the title comes from the Strand poem and has pretty much nothing to do with the plot of the novel) isn't especially literary. Rather, it's a solid, readable, fairly straightforward crime story. The writing is good enough, and the main character -- introduced here in what's clearly a series (this book is 10 years old; there are
Sep 04, 2011 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spiegelman, Peter. BLACK MAPS. (2003). ****.
This was the author’s first novel, and the winner of the Edgar for Best First Novel in 2003. It’s a PI novel, but the PI of this book has some special experience. He’s John March. He ha had several years of experience as a Private Investigator, preceded by a few years as a cop in Upstate NY. His training and first jobs, though, were in the field of finance with his family’s merchant bank in NYC. He’s qualified, then, to take on the case of Rick Pierro
Jun 26, 2012 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: twenty-twelve
This is the first book in the John March series. While I can't say I enjoyed it as much as books 2 & 3 ( Death's Little Helpers & Red Cat ), I do have to say it had me interested enough to pick up the others. John March is an ex-cop turned PI. He's investigating a blackmail scheme against his client, Rick Pierro, an investor?? Wall Street guy?? ..I'm not really sure what he did because I can't remember but I know he's uber rich. Anyway.. there's a lot of financial jargon that I could've ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
#1 of the John March series. I very much enjoyed Spiegelman's depiction of investigator John March's efforts. No computer specialist who can track a phone call in seconds or instaneously match DNA evidence, rather this novel features intelligent following of available clues. This is not to say that March is everyman; he is obviously a superior physical and mental speciman without extending into the range of superhero. A much recommended read.

John March, a sheriff's investigator for seven years i
Oct 25, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: NY Times Book Review 7 Sept 03
Shelves: read-fiction
A good standard mystery novel that I polished off in a weekend while recovering from a cold.

It occurred to me while reading this book that women who wish to understand men might profitably read this novel, as the hero is a modern variation on a standard male fantasy figure, the Last Moral Man in a Corrupt World, a familiar figure in mystery novels from Raymond Chandler onwards. This hero is especially beloved by those of us who have failed to cut a very successful figure in life. In this case, t
BLACK MAPS (Private Investigator-New York-Cont) – G+
Spiegelman, Peter – 1st in series
Alfred A. Knopf, 2003- Hardcover
Investigator John March agrees to investigate a case of blackmail. The victim's career is being threatened by claiming he was involved in money laundering while at a bank that is now under federal investigation. March finds his client is no the only victim of threat, and not each has survived.
*** Spiegelman clearly knows whereof he speaks and actually makes the world of banking in
Jul 05, 2012 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This needs 3 1/2 stars. It was good, kept my interest, had very few annoying cliches, although it did have some, being a mystery with a private eye as the hero. I sometimes felt it could move along just a little faster, but Spiegelman took his time and tied up a lot of loose ends in a way that didn't seem contrived. I figured out something before it was revealed, and I thought I was going to be irritated that I was right, but even that made sense once he delivered some of the secrets.
His langua
Aug 26, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
Black Maps was a pick for my mystery book club, and I found that I did enjoy reading about John March. Throughout the book, we get hints of what happened to March three years before with the death of his wife. March is still reeling from these events and the reader can see that March’s loved ones are still concerned for him. March takes a case that involves a white-collar crime and blackmail. Despite the lack of information to work with, March finds himself on several people’s hit list and makin ...more
Aug 17, 2008 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Thriller readers
Shelves: fiction
Someone drawn to all things geographic will be disappointed to discover that Black Maps has nothing whatsoever to do with maps. It certainly qualifies as noir, though, although at times it brushes against the criminal procedural.

At first I wished I had discovered a thriller that blended action with cartography, but Peter Spiegelman managed to make banking interesting enough. It helps that the egos, not the dollar amounts, are the focus of the novel, and that every character is drawn according t
Aug 02, 2015 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You get what you expect here. Spiegelman prefers the introverted, conflicted anti-hero to the skull crushing bravado of say Spillane's Mike Hammer, but at its heart it's still a gumshoe detective novel. It flowed well and I enjoyed the muted style of the violence and the romance through much of it. It's the second book I've read by Spiegelman and while I'm not in a rush to go out and buy his others, they do make for good travel reading. A solid 3.5 stars that I rounded up out of thankfulness for ...more
Dec 31, 2007 Dorian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable crime story, which uses white-collar financial world to good effect: is interesting about the very wealthy without being in thrall to them.

Spiegelman writes well, on the whole, though he insists on describing everyone's outfit at tedious length.

The protagonist is a loner, tough, admirable, somewhat psychologically damaged--it's all the same stuff, yet a nice spin on the conventions. Kept me up til one finishing it, always a good sign.
Fred Seibert
I was short some plane reading when I saw one of the Red Cat cover in a suburban bookstore. Sixty seconds later these were on my Kindle (a post on the destruction of the bookstore business model is brewing in my noggin somewhere) and I dispatched all three of them almost as quickly. He's a good enough writer, and I liked all the characters enough while I was reading them (and I'll probably read any sequels, if there are any), but, I'm having a hard time remembering all that much about them.
Rogue Reader
Jan 26, 2014 Rogue Reader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carried this book for years, waiting to read it, and I'm glad I did. Black Maps is the first John March mystery - March is the black sheep of his family. He's chosen to follow his own independent path rather than track into the family business, but the family connections, reputation and background give March specific skills and insight that really make the tale move. Great suspense, love the local NY streets, wonderful dialog and family relations.
Stephen Richter
Jul 28, 2013 Stephen Richter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoyed Spiegelman's character of John March and the 3 book written (so far) of crime set in the financial world. Spiegelman has created a compelling lead character with a mysterious back story that reveals itself in the 3 books. It is best if you read the series in order of publish date. I recommend the book for fans of Larsson Milliennium Trilogy who appreciated the financial aspect of that series.
Sally Wolf
Despite his family’s wishes John March became a deputy sheriff for a small town until his wife was killed. Then he became a private investigator. In this book his lawyer asks him to investigate a blackmail case for one of his clients, a high profile banker. In doing so March finds himself in a mess bigger than he bargained for. This book is a great mystery that will keep you guessing to the end. I found it very enjoyable and would recommend it to anyone who likes PI crime books.
Bill Thibadeau
Having read his book Red Cat, I had high hopes that this book would follow as a good read. I was disappointed and cannot recommend this book. I never felt anything for any of the characters. I felt it was confusing and contained every possible adjective and adverb in the English language. It was uninteresting and droll. I thought seriously about giving this book one star but felt that I didn't hate it - just didn't like it.
John Sheridan
Dec 22, 2011 John Sheridan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Makes a departure to have a PI that comes from a financially secure background. Hints at his backstory are interesting and makes you wish there was a prequel dealing with that aspect of his life. An engaging character and a plot that while interesting is not overly complicated and with not too many convoluted twists and turns just for the sake of it. Will continue with this series as for the first book in the series it promises to get even better.
Mary Lou
Sep 16, 2011 Mary Lou rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful debut novel. John March is a fascinating character, and the book premise is fitting for our times--how much will a venture capitalist pay a blackmailer to shut down the potential loss of his multi-million partnership? And what did the "innocent" victim really do years ago--why is he so afraid of the blackmailer's supposedly contrived evidence?

Will definitely read more Spiegelman.
Spiegelman does an excellent job of creating a suspensful PI story with all the elements against the backdrop of Wall Street and white collar crime.

The author creates very real, believeable characters but also keeps the story moving well. He has a couple possible villains but does not dwell on any so long that they become carictures.
Sep 05, 2016 Russeller rated it liked it
decent, fast paced. could do with some editing.
Nov 10, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2012
A fun, well-written mystery with a few twists and turns (even at the end). Some of the financial stuff in the beginning was a bit inscrutable, some of the minor characters were indistinguishable, and the very end was a bit cliched, but those small flaws only detracted a little from an otherwise great book. I'll be putting others in the series on my reading list.
Ellen Mandly
this book would have been much better with some EDITING! 3 adjectives to describe a minor characters eyes is too much! descriptive overkill! I would have enjoyed this book much more without it! aside from that, not a bad read but not great.
Jorn Barger
This one is... different. Sort of a slow-moving forensic-accounting whodunnit. With lots of too-detailed descriptions of faces, clothes, and furnishings. And an excruciating trick for escaping plastic handcuffs.
PennsyLady (Bev)
Jan 23, 2016 PennsyLady (Bev) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the dark underside of the financial world

... detectives John March

3.5 well read, well crafted...

interesting though not my particular type of suspense
Jul 22, 2012 Lois rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
P.I. is the odd one of the family that runs to financial types (Banks & Wall Street). Interesting to have stories set in the world of Wall Street.
Jul 22, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was so good I immediately bought and read the next one in the series. More thoughts generally about the books in that review...
William Hochmuth
Stopped 50 pages in. Convinced I read it before. Believe I liked it enough that I'm starting #2 in the series.
May 01, 2011 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little heavy on the banking talk, but it gave the writer some legitimate backing. Amusing how detailed he was on everyone's clothing and weight. Not a bad read, will check out his next book
PennsyLady (Bev)
5 audio discs


August F2F read


the dark underside of the financial world
... detectives John March

well read, well crafted...
just not my particular type of suspense”
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Peter Spiegelman is a twenty-year veteran of the financial services and software industries. He retired in 2001 to devote himself to writing. He lives in Connecticut.
More about Peter Spiegelman...

Other Books in the Series

John March (3 books)
  • Death's Little Helpers (John March, #2)
  • Red Cat (John March, #3)

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