The Napa Valley-based thriller CRUSH by Alan Jacobson brings new meaning to the verb as it applies to wine. The book features FBI profiler Karen Vail romping through wine caves and vineyards searching for yet another brand of crushing.
It appears that Vail is finally getting a much-needed (and required) respite from her grueling profile work in Washington, D.C. With boyfriend, Det. Robby Hernandez, in tow, they head to California’s famed wine country for a peaceful romantic getaway and some wine tasting. First outing, guess what — dead body deep in the wine cave they are touring. Gruesome and distinctive body mutilations and, you guessed it, a crushed throat. This victim is female. Instinctively, Vail becomes deeply immersed in the case.
When a second victim is discovered, a task force is formed and led by Lt. Redmond Brix, at first Vail’s adversary soon to become one of her closest allies. The force begins working round-the-clock on the case to catch the killer. Vail partners with Det. Roxxann Dixon providing the sort of focused teamwork it takes to un-earth details on their UNSUB (unidentified suspect). Poor Robby left, all too often, to his own devices, unfortunately, tasting all those great Napa wines on his own.
The vineyards and winemakers of the valley soon become major players. The task force makes every attempt to keep word of the killings out of the media to avoid threatening Napa Valley’s multi-billion dollar industry. This frustrates perpetrator, John Wayne Mayfield, who offers his perspective throughout the story and taunts Vail personally, only adding to her frustration that she’s finding it virtually impossible to profile him as more and more victims are identified.
Vail finds the unpredictable serial killer virtually impossible to profile, as more and more victims are identified. It’s amazing that Vail herself wasn’t among those victims, although there are several attempts to eliminate her from the mix, or at least send her a strong warning. The perpetual action rocks and rolls all the way to the bitter end.
This is Jacobson’s fourth thriller featuring Vail and I think it’s his best effort to date. Except — I wanted to look him up and do harm when I finished the book, since he left so many loose ends … ON PURPOSE! I suddenly realized, what a brilliant marketing plan, hooking readers deeper into his lair, leading them to his website, and making them salivate for the next novel. Wow.
Jacobson will be in Tucson for book signings and to introduce his newest book in the Karen Vail series, Velocity. Meet him at CataVinos Wine Shoppe & Tasting Room on Saturday, October 23, 2010, from 2:00-4pm; Barnes & Noble on Broadway, Sunday, October 24, 2010, starting at 2:00pm; and at Clues Unlimited, Monday, October 25, 2010, from 5:30pm-7:00pm.
The Novelist Meritage 2007
M. Cosentino Winery’s The Novelist Meritage 2007 is among my favorite white wines to enjoy with food. It’s only appropriate to review alongside a book review by a novelist I admire.
A blend of Sauvignon Blanc (77%) and Semillion (23%) grapes, this wine adds a crisp and clean complement to any meal. I get a nose of tangerine, lime, a hint of melon, and spices that combine with a full herby, creamy texture for a lingering finish.
Partially barrel-fermented and aging in French oak barrels creates a balance, with just enough oak overtones to make me happy.
I enjoyed The Novelist with Alaskan salmon (seasoned with fresh ginger, smoked paprika, and lemon) and asparagus, both grilled.