06/19 On the Bookshelf . . . “The Book Without Words” & “The Poisoner’s Handbook” & “Inmate 1577”

Book Without Words    Poisoner's Handbook    Inmate 1577

Picked the first two on sale.  Can’t go wrong with Avi and I’ve been looking to get a hold of a copy of The Poisoner’s Handbook since it came out a year or two ago.  And finally there’s the next Karen Vail thriller from Alan Jacobson, involving Alcatraz in some way; what’s not to like?

“Velocity” by Alan Jacobson (Vanguard Press, 2010)


After the cliffhanger of Crush, Karen Vail is right back in the thick of it.  The key to these books is the realism Alan Jacobson puts into his characters and his story, keeping the reader hooked until the end, as they simply have no idea what is going to happen next and who will survive.

We last left FBI profiler Karen Vail with the Crush killer caught, and the serial killings in the beautiful wine county of Napa Valley finally at an end; but the nightmare is still continuing for Vail, as her boyfriend and love of her life, Detective Robby Hernandez, is missing, and she doesn’t have a clue where he could be.  Vail doesn’t take a break, keeping the team together to track down and find Hernandez.  Then she gets the call she doesn’t want from her boss, ASAC Thomas Gifford: she is to come back to Washington DC right away, as her talent and skills are needed on a high profile case.  Vail tries everything she can to stay on the Hernandez case, but Gifford won’t hear of it and soon she’s back in DC working on the new case, trying to keep focused.  Vail meets up with Hector DeSantos, a government operative who knows people in high places.  Eventually everything comes down to a big confrontation, as Vail wants back on the Hernandez case, and finally learns the truth about Robby.

Hernandez was working undercover on a DEA operation, investigating the drug cartel, and a notorious kingpin Carlos Cortez.  Vail soon realizes her efforts to find Hernandez may have jeopardized his cover, after showing a photo of Vail and Hernandez with Quantico in the background.  Once Vail finds out about Gifford’s involvement with Hernandez, she’s back on the case and working with DeSantos; she will stop at nothing to get him back alive.  After her son, he’s the most important person in her life.

Alan Jacobson goes deep into the world of the drug cartels and illegal drug trafficking across the border.  Readers learn astounding details on various ways drugs are smuggled through hollow corks and on the backs of wine labels.  Velocity has both a compelling action story – equal to Crush – but also a fascinating look into a world that many people know exists, but know very little about.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on November 16, 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.

06/25 on the Bookshelf . . . “Velocity” & “Ancestor”


After enjoying The 7th Victim and really enjoying Crush, the first of the Karen Vail novels by Alan Jacobson, I look forward to the third installment in Velocity, due out in October.  And for those wanting to check out BookBanter’s interview with Alan Jacobson, click here.


I’ve read two of Scott Sigler’s previous books, Infected and Contagious, and am interested in seeing what he does with Ancestor.

“Crush” by Alan Jacobson (Vanguard Press, 2009)


After the runaway success of Jacobson’s first Karen Vail novel, The 7th Victim, our impressive FBI profiler is back in the fantastic follow-up, Crush.  While the pressure may be on Jacobson to make his second Karen Vail Mystery be just as good as his first, in my opinion, Crush is better.  Jacobson is now comfortable in writing Vail and lets her explore her boundaries and limits, coupled with having the agent be in a foreign place.

At the start of the book, Vail is on vacation in the beautiful wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties.  After the stress, pressure, and near-death experiences of The 7th Victim, Vail can certainly use the break, and has been so ordered by her ASAC.  But as Vail and her boyfriend, Detective Robby Hernandez, are about to enjoy a very expensive wine tour, they are told it’s been canceled and they’ll receive full refunds.  Vail’s curiosity gets the better of her and she soon finds that a dead body is the culprit.  Her profiling skills automatically kick into gear as she strategically maneuvers herself onto the task force, leaving Hernandez by the wayside.  But this is who she is.

Now on the Napa County Major Crimes Task Force, Vail teams up with Investigator Roxxann Dixon, as soon more bodies are discovered each with telltale signs of the “Crush Killer.”  Then the killer begins contacting Vail, threatening not just her life but that of her son if she doesn’t do exactly what he says.  But the wine industry is an important part of the nation’s economy, and the political issue of whether to release the details to the press creates more enemies for Vail.  Ultimately it will be up to her to manage and keep the task force together, and catch this Crush Killer before he gets to anyone else.

Jacobson has not only written a full-throttle thriller that will keep readers hooked to the very end, but also educates them in the niceties of wine tasting and drinking, as well as some of the different kinds of wines offered by our wine country; not to mention the number of real locations used in the book.  Crush is a story that will have you entranced, causing your mouth to dry up in a craving for that tasty red liquid; and after finishing the book you’ll feel the urge to check out Napa and Sonoma counties to see if they really are as beautiful as Crush depicts them.

CLICK HERE to purchase your copy from Bookshop Santa Cruz and help support BookBanter.

Originally written on September 29th, 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Alan Jacobson check out BookBanter Episode 19.

“The 7th Victim” by Alan Jacobson (Vanguard Press, 2008)

7th Victimstarstarstar

In Alan Jacobson’s third novel, The 7th Victim, he presents a well-defined and fascinating new character in Karen Vail, one of the very few female FBI profilers.  As a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, joining with a crack team of experienced detectives, it’s up to her to create the solid profile that will lead them to the identity and location of the Dead Eyes killer.  The murders are garish and gruesome, as Vail investigates the crime scene of each victim, until an important person of stature is horrifically murdered, changing the whole profile of the killer, but also presenting some terrifying links to Vail herself.

Jacobson has spent seven years researching The 7th Victim, working with the FBI’s renowned profiling unit, as well as one of the few female FBI profilers.  Karen Vail is a well rounded character who has plenty of personal issues going on in her life with an abusive soon to be ex-husband and a young child who she cares for more than anything in the world.  She also teaches future FBI agents, and fights to maintain her profile as a high-ranking and well respected profiler.

The 7th Victim is an entertaining, fast-paced read in the style of Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series, but adding a further grittiness and realism with the killings and the harsh everyday fights Vail must go through as an FBI profiler and mother.  It is hopefully the first of more to come in the world of Karen Vail.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 19th 2008 ©Alex C. Telander.

For an interview with Alan Jacobson check out BookBanter Episode 19.

BookBanter Episode 19 with Alan Jacobson

Play Episode

In episode 19 of BookBanter, I’m interviewing Alan Jacobson, bestselling author of The 7th Victim, his first novel featuring the great FBI profiler, Karen Vail, and his new novel and sequel, Crush. In the interview we talk about how Jacobson got involved in writing, how he exactly ended up researching for years with the FBI at Quantico, where Karen Vail originally came from, and what’s in store for his impressive protagonist.

If you would like to purchase The 7th Victim or Crush, click on the covers below:

The 7th Victim Crush

This episode of BookBanter is brought to you by East Bay and Footlocker, leading world suppliers of athletic footwear, apparel and sports equipment, featuring top athletic brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Converse, and Nike.  Go to East Bay.com and use the code AFBOOK15 to receive 15% off your order, or the code AFBOOK20 to receive 20% off your order of $75 or more.  Or go to Footlocker.com and use the code AFBOOKFL to receive 15% off your order.

Alan Jacobson

After enjoying this episode, why not check out the new BookBanter Blog, where you can find out what I was up to at the World Fantasy Convention.

I’ll see you next time, on November 15th, where I’ll be interviewing bestselling author Garth Nix, who — no surprise — turned out to be a really great guy, and find out what he’s up to with his next book, and what big news there is about his Old Kingdom books.

Until then, keep reading!

Alex C. Telander.

Alan Jacobson for Episode 19

Today I’ll be interviewing Alan Jacboson for the next episode of BookBanter, episode 19, which should be up by November 1st.  While I usually put episodes up an hour or so before the strike of midnight of the day they go up, as this falls on Halloween and I know I’ll be at a party, it may be delayed somewhat.  But I’ll have my laptop with me and it will go up at some point on November 1st.  As soon as I’m able to.

Alan Jacobson is a great mystery writer, if you’re looking for some fun books with a strong female protagonist, Karen Vail, who is one of the few female FBI profilers.  In the interview today I’ll be finding out where exactly Karen Vail came from and what sort of research Jacobson did.

For now, check out my reviews for Jacobson’s two Vail novels: The 7th Victim, and the latest one, Crush.

10/06 On the Book Shelf . . .

Here’s what I had arrive on my doorstep or picked up by yours today:

Batman Canticle Fables 12 Flesh
Level 26 Lackadaisy

A nice variety of titles, including a number of graphic novels.  Though I’m thinking I’m going to have to read all of Fables from the beginning as it’s been so long since I picked it up.

Also looking forward to Canticle as I’ll be interviewing Ken Scholes at the World Fantasy Convention at the end of the month and his interview will be showing up in Episode 21 airing December 1st.

Also received a final copy of Alan Jacobson’s Crush:


Will be interviewing Alan at the end of the month as well, and his interview will show up in Episode 22 on December 15th.  Was also delighted to see I got mentioned in Alan’s acknowledgments at the end of the book.  Thank you very much for that Alan, and I will continue doing what I can to promote Crush ,as it ‘s an excellent book.

And yes, my name is finally in print!

Alan Jacobson’s Crush

A couple of days ago I finished up Crush by Alan Jacobson, which was released on September 22nd.  I originally met Alan about a year ago when he came into the store one day to talk about his debut novel, The 7th Victim.  We chatted for a while about his history in researching with the FBI which had led to the creation of his recurring and impressive character, Karen Veil, an FBI profiler.  He handed me an arc of the book which I read and enjoyed, and reviewed.

I remember I originally asked him if he would be doing a series involving Karen Veil, since he’d done so much research and Veil was such a great character.  At that point in time he said he wasn’t sure, but that he might.

Now I’m glad to see that Veil is back with Crush and this book is better than The 7th Victim.  Veil is on vacation at the start of the book in the wine country of Napa County, but then a body is discovered and even though she’s strictly “off duty,” her experience and profiling skills automatically kick into gear and she strategically maneuvers herself and get’s on the task force for the case.  The brilliant title of Crush comes from the link with grapes, and crushing them for wine, and all that jazz; coupled with the fact that the “crush killer” first kills his victims by strangling them to death.  Alan uses lots of place names so for any readers familiar with Napa and Sonoma counties (like I am), it’s a lot of fun recognizing the towns, places, and especially some of the wineries.  With this serial killer on the loose, Veil wants to get the word out to try and catch him, but with the wine industry supporting  a significant portion of the country’s economy, there are others who are very reluctant to do so.

Crush employs many different facets from government and politics, to wine county and wine drink — using real places — and a fast-paced plot line where the bodies start piling up and Veil has to do her very best to keep everyone in the loop and doing their best to find out just who this killer is.

After my initial reviewing of The 7th Victim, Alan and I have kept in touch over the year through email and Facebook, so I’ve been looking forward to Crush for some time (and was delighted to receive a copy without even asking!) and with somewhat of a cliffhanger, Alan is currently working on the third Karen Veil mystery.

While I plan to have my review for Crush up at BookBanter.net soon, I have also arranged with Alan for an interview with BookBanter which we’ll be doing on October 27th.  At the moment the interview with Alan is scheduled to run December 15th.

For now, head on over to Alan Jacobson’s website where you can found out all about Crush as well as some extras and behind-the-scenes that add to the great story.  And he’s currently on his tour, so check and see if he’s coming a place near you, drop by, buy a book, and say hi.