A Karen Vail Mystery, Book 2
Pages: 392 pages
Finished: Apr. 16, 2010
First Published: Sept. 9, 2009
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Genre: thriller, mystery
"So the dick says to the woman, 'I got nothing.'"
Acquired: Received an ARC from the publisher via the author.
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.
Summary: FBI Profiler Karen Vail and her boyfriend Detective Robby Hernandez, both of Virginia, take a much needed vacation to Napa Valley, California. On their first evening out at a classy winery tour/tasting/dining establishment fashioned out of a cave, a dead body is discovered and Karen immediately is drawn to the obvious signs of a serial killer's work. With the local police's request she becomes part of the task force set up to catch this brutal murderer who is unlike anyone Karen has every seen before and defies all the usual profiles based on the crime s/he commits. Robby spends his time trying to enjoy a vacation mostly on his own while Karen deals with multiple grisly murders and ultimately certain task force members become targets, even victims, and Karen's life is also at stake.
Comments: I LOVE Karen Vail!! Crush is an even better read than the first in this series, The 7th Victim. Alan Jacobson knows how to write a thriller. Starting off with a grizzly crime that hooks the reader immediately he weaves a very complicated mystery with twists and turns that split into two directions and once the serial killer mystery is solved there are even more reveals that finally leave the reader breathless on the last page. With this only being the second book in this series, Jacobson took quite a risk to take his main character away from her established setting and introducing us to a whole new cast of characters but it worked very well. Karen maintains some contact with her boss, son, and a friend/co-worker back in Virginia reminding the reader of book one's character development while making Crush feel completely fresh and new, yet still familiar.
Karen is a wonderful main character. She's just what one would assume a female law enforcement agent would be like. She never compensates for being a woman, she fits in and is treated as one of "the guys" and is naturally all woman when not on the job. She's tough, confident, feisty and very clever. I can't wait to read the next book in this series. I am a bit miffed at the ending which is a blatant cliffhanger, something that rarely happens in the mystery genre. I'm not even quite sure I feel satisfied that the "case" has been closed even though a new case has been introduced by the end. My regular readers know I'm not a cliffhanger fan but this book was just such a fabulous thriller I can't let that bother me too much this time.
Jacobson should appeal to a wide audience. He does present quite gruesome murders but he doesn't go into gory details. When I finished reading this, I said to my sister, who happened to be sitting next to me also reading, that "This author (Alan Jacobson) is almost as good as Mo Hayder!" That is the ultimate compliment I can give a thriller author. Jacobson writes a smart, tight, thriller full of shocks and gasps. Add him to your list.