Book: Black Maps

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Black Maps: A Novel

Author: Peter Spiegelman
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

The stronghold of white-collar crime in the rarefied world of high finance—this is the setting for Peter Spiegelman’s edgy, suspenseful, sharply-honed debut novel.

At the center: John March, who walked away from his family’s venerable merchant bank for the life of a rural deputy sheriff—a life that would explode in personal tragedy and professional disaster. Three years later, he’s back in Manhattan, working as a PI and running from his grief and the expectations of his wealthy family.

March takes the case of Rick Pierro, a self-made man who has everything–and who’s in danger of losing it all. An anonymous, poisonous threat has implicated him in a vast money-laundering scheme already under investigation by the feds.

March’s own investigation uncovers a blood-stained paper trail that leads him deep into the lives of both insiders and outcasts on the street. He discovers that his client may be the latest victim of a serial extortionist diabolically adept at psychological and physical intimidation, but the more March learns the more questions he has about Pierro, his wife, and the secrets hidden beneath the glossy surfaces of their lives. And the more he begins to fear that his own blood will be added to the trail before the case is closed.

With its headlong narrative, quick, incisive language, and brilliantly clarified details of finance–the legal and the illegal–Black Maps is a stunning first novel.


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Peter Spigelman’s first novel shows that white-collar crime definitely isn’t a gentleman’s game, exploring a net of conspiracy that runs from back streets in half a dozen major cities to the penthouse offices of people for whom $100 million is pocket change.

With a family background tied to finance, ex-sheriff’s investigator turned Manhattan P.I. John March is in his element unraveling a strange extortion case tied to the collapse of a giant financial institution, Merchant’s Worldwide Bank. The client, Rick Pierro, a wealthy, fast-track banking executive, has been faxed documents tying him to illegal money-laundering—to the tune of billions a day—apparently carried out by MWB. Pierro could lose everything if such documents were made public. Claiming that his business dealings with Merchant’s were always legitimate, he hires March to locate the anonymous blackmailer and make a preemptive offer to have the whole mess go away. Intrigued as much by Pierro’s response as by the situation itself, March starts backtracking and soon finds that the Merchant’s scandal was only the tip of an iceberg of greed, coercion, violence, and casual murder that is compounding criminally high interest with each passing day. Black Maps is a compelling combination of financial thriller and hard-boiled noir. —Sue Stone

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