Someone is murdering women in New York City, and there aren’t a lot of clues to go on. Women around the city are becoming fearful of being out alone, especially at night. Every man is suspect. In the midst of these tragedies, Katherine Emerson meets two intriguing men: David is nice and dependable. Katherine knows she has a solid future with him. Sael is more slippery, harder to predict, and has a darkness to him that Katherine finds it difficult to resist. As Katherine tries to figure out what she wants from these men, she realizes that the more insistent question might be…what do they want from her?
Love Is Red is quite possibly the most unexpectedly intriguing book I’ve read so far this year. What seems to be some sort of traditional murder mystery/romance combination becomes something else entirely in the hands of a writer as talented as Sophie Jaff. That’s not to denigrate either murder mysteries or romances—I’ve read and enjoyed my fair share of both genres—but the inability to fit this novel into a neat box is one of its most interesting aspects.
If I had to pick one adjective to describe Love Is Red, I’d say it’s a novel of obsession, in all its forms. Sexual, yes, but also the need to belong, to understand, to protect. It’s a consuming novel, both in terms of what the characters feel and experience, as well as how it grabs ahold of you from the first few pages. I read this in one sitting, intent on understanding the power behind this novel. I can’t tell you exactly why it mesmerized me; in fact, I was pretty close to letting it go unread, but a recommendation from someone I trust convinced me to give it a chance. And man. Am I glad I did.
Katherine is an interesting, imperfect main character for Love Is Red. She makes bad decisions that are completely understandable. She’s impulsive and readers will connect with her quickly; Jaff knows how to get the reader into the head of a flawed sympathetic character. She’s the heart of the novel; readers might pick this up for mystery or romance, but Katherine is why they stay.
By the end of Love Is Red, I was in a place I did not expect at all in terms of plot, but it felt satisfying regardless. Jaff seeds hints of the direction she’s taking the novel over the course of the story, and I’m eager to go back and reread this book, knowing now where it will end up. This is the first in a trilogy, and you can probably tell I’ll be picking up the sequel without hesitation. If you enjoy the unexpected in your reading, if you love intensity and passion in your reads, then you should pick this up.