Book Description: Most people dream of going to the Napa Valley. FBI Profiler Karen Vail can't wait to get out of there.
A new killer is on the loose, seemingly related to the one she encountered in Crush. But this killer turns out to be like quicksand, pulling her deeper into a world she's never before experienced...forcing her to face off against foes more dangerous than any she's ever encountered. It's a high-octane thriller that Michael Connelly called "Relentless as a bullet" from the first page.
Setting: The Napa Valley; Washington, DC; Quantico, VA; San Diego; Las Vegas Main characters: FBI Profiler Karen Vail, Napa County Investigator Roxxann Dixon, Detective Lieutenant Redmond Brix, Special Agent Hector DeSantos, ASAC Thomas Gifford, Special Agent Guy Turino
About the Author: I'm often fascinated by how and why things happen—and how chance meetings and random occurrences, years later, can have an enormous impact on one's life. There are many such examples in my life to choose from, but I'll share two with you because of the impact they had on my writing career.
Years ago, when I was attending junior high school in New York, I was part of a "forced integration" experiment in which teens from one ethnicity were bused into schools in predominantly other ethnic neighborhoods. It was a volatile situation. Police cars were often parked out front. There were riots, hallway incidents, threats, and beatings. Violence was, it seemed, a daily occurrence.
So my junior high experience was not filled with youthful exuberance. While it unquestionably taught me valuable life lessons, among the most important were those I learned from one of my teachers. I was in an accelerated academic program, in which I skipped 8th grade—half the 8th grade curriculum was folded into 7th grade and the other half into 9th grade. As a result, I had Louis Brill, my English teacher, the entire time I was in junior high. It was a transformative experience—he was a great teacher who opened my eyes to English and made it (including grammar) fun. I still remember some of his lessons, all these years later. Looking back, had I not been bused to that school, I never would have had Mr. Brill as my teacher. The busing experiment failed miserably. But without it, it's possible I never would've discovered my love for English.
Fast forward 15+ years later: I was practicing chiropractic when an injury forced my hand (no pun intended) and I had to retire and sell my practice. But during the transition period to the new owner, I took a phone call from someone requesting a reference on a part-time employee, who was studying to be a criminalist. The person calling was head of the Department of Justice's Criminalists Institute. After giving him information on my employee, I asked him about a character in a novel I'd just started writing. To make a long story short (that's a good thing because I write novels for a living), he was enormously helpful in providing information. I asked if I could tour the crime lab—which met with an emphatic "No"—but he did arrange for me to audit one of their classes on blood spatter pattern analysis.
It was there that I met an FBI agent who not only answered a lot of my questions about the Bureau, but who remained in touch with me over the subsequent months, when he was promoted to the Behavioral Analysis (profiling) Unit in Quantico. We continued having hours upon hours of conversations about serial offenders, profiling, and Bureau procedure. He invited me out to tour the Academy and profiling unit—he didn't have to ask twice—a visit that would serve as the first of many trips, FBI seminars and the like that provided valuable insights that helped me immeasurably in my writing career.
My first novel, False Accusations, was a product of what I'd learned in that blood spatter class. It became a national bestseller, it was sold to seven foreign countries, and it generated tremendous interest because of its shocker ending. My follow-up novel, The Hunted, also a bestseller and also sold to several foreign countries, likewise met with rave reviews from critics, booksellers, and readers. It introduced the characters of FBI Director Douglas Knox and covert government operative Hector DeSantos, who would return in a future novel (more on that later). Next in line was The 7th Victim, which introduced the character of FBI Profiler Karen Vail. The 7th Victim was the culmination of--at that time--seven years of research with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. The film rights were sold to an A-list Hollywood producer (of Tom Cruise's recent film, Valkyrie). When I wrote The 7th Victim, I thought Karen Vail would be a one-time character. But my publisher sat me down and told me they'd been getting tremendously strong response to her and the bookstore buyers were requesting that I make her a series. After much navel gazing, I determined how I would do this. My most important consideration was keeping Vail and the stories she appears in fresh and different, while retaining the features that made her special. And Crush was born. I'd always wanted to write a novel set in the Napa Valley, but none of my ideas stuck with me--until the concept behind Crush hit me. I immersed myself in the culture and nuances of the Napa Valley and learned some key facts that further honed my story. Vail finds herself out of sorts--in an area she doesn't know, dealing with a culture she doesn't understand...while chasing a serial killer the likes of which the profiling unit has never encountered. The reviews, I'm happy to say, have been terrific. Crush ends with Vail having lost something of tremendous value to her--and that takes us into Velocity, the third in the Vail series. Velocity shows us a side of Vail we've never before seen (heck, it's a side she's never seen herself), facing off against extremely dangerous foes whose deadly game goes well beyond serial killers. Hector DeSantos (from The Hunted) plays a large role as he partners with Vail once she returns to Washington--and Director Knox even makes an appearance. Reviews have been awesome! Although I'd planned to give Vail a bit of a rest after Velocity, a new idea came to me--and it was so good, I just had to write it.... Bottom line: when I look back to that phone call in 1994, when I asked if I could visit the crime lab, it led to a chance meeting and a random occurrence. And that has made all the difference.
Here's What I Think: This is my first of the Karen Vail books, but I did not feel like I was missing a huge background. Although there were many references to the other installments of this series, the important ones are explained enough to keep the story rolling. Velocity starts off with what appears to be a conclusion of the prior book (I have not read it) but then rolls right into Velocity's plot and keeps going from there, gaining well Velocity, with each turn of the page. This book has a lot of plot twists and turns that take you in many directions, and not always ones that have to do with the case at hand. Often times, I find this distracting but it is all woven together so perfectly that I didn't really notice it while I was reading it. I think if you enjoy James Patterson style mysteries you will like this one. I do plan to go back and read the other titles from Jacobson, as his writing technique and style is very fluid and easy to read.
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