FBI profiler Karen Vail is haunted by a serial killer from her rookie days in a “pulse-pounding” thriller by a USA Today bestselling author (Providence Journal).
New York City: home to world-renowned museums, theater, restaurants, iconic sports franchises. Central Park. Wall Street. And an infamous serial killer who’s terrorized the Big Apple for decades.
The year is 1995 and the NYPD has just graduated a promising new patrol officer named Karen Vail. The rookie’s first day on the job is anything but easy when she finds herself at the crime scene of a young woman murdered in an unusual manner. Vail is unsure of what she’s looking at or what it means—but it’s a case that will weigh on her mind for nearly twenty years.
As the years pass, Vail’s career takes unexpected twists and turns—as does the case that’s come to be known as Hades. Now a skilled FBI profiler, will Vail be in a better position to catch the killer? Or will Hades prove to be Karen Vail’s hell on earth?
The character who has captivated readers worldwide—and who won the praise of literary giants Michael Connelly, James Patterson, and Nelson DeMille—returns in a story that captures the experiences that shaped the revered profiler and made her the top cop she is today.
About the Author
Jacobson’s books have been published internationally, and several have been optioned for film and television. A number have been named to Best of the Year lists.
Jacobson has been interviewed extensively on television and radio, including on CNN, NPR, and multiple ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox network affiliates.
Alan Jacobson is the national bestselling author of the critically acclaimed FBI profiler Karen Vail and OPSIG Team Black series. Jacobson’s years of extensive research and training while embedded with federal and local law enforcement agencies have influenced him both personally and professionally, and have helped shape the stories he tells and the diverse characters that populate his novels.
Read an Excerpt
A Karen Vail Novel
By Alan Jacobson
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 2014 Alan Jacobson
All rights reserved.
American flight 425
Queens, New York
Present day: July 17
Something was wrong. FBI profiler Karen Vail felt it more than she knew it, but there were times in her career when intuition was all she had to go on. And this was one of those times.
Seated next to her on the Airbus A319 due to take off for Dulles International was her boyfriend, or very significant (and sometimes underappreciated) other, Roberto Umberto Enrique Hernandez, his right arm and hand encased in a hard plaster cast. At six foot seven, he was more than a little cramped in the seat. But Vail did not seem to notice.
"I know that look," Robby said. When he did not get a response, he said, "That look. I've seen it before. You're worried. And still pissed off."
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen." Unlike Vail's demeanor, the flight attendant's voice was calm, almost uninterested. "Welcome aboard. This is a full flight, so we need everyone in his or her seat as soon as possible so we can close the door and push back from the gate."
Vail looked over at Robby—and noticed him for the first time since they left the homicide squad. "Yeah, I'm pissed off. Frustrated. Hurt. But what's bothering me most is that I might've made a mistake. I'm not sure. I can't be sure. And it's killing me."
"So you said. Twice. On the way over here."
Actually, it was five times. Weren't you listening?
"What's changed in the last fifteen minutes?"
Vail closed her eyes. "We're sitting on a plane about to leave town. And I know that once that door closes, I'm not coming back."
"The way you and Russo left things, I don't think you'd want to go back even if we got off the plane right now."
Vail thought about that. Robby's probably right, but how can I just go home? I pissed off one of the biggest supporters I've ever had in my career. My mentor, the guy who put his reputation on the line for me. She opened her eyes and examined the bulkhead. Am I right? Am I wrong? Am I missing something?
She had thought that she was too close to this case, was not seeing it objectively. Maybe it would've been better to hand it off to another profiler. But that would mean the NYPD would have to make an official request to the Behavioral Analysis Unit, and she doubted that was going to happen now.
At the moment, there was no time to take a step back and reassess. She was still in New York and they had a suspect in custody.
Vail watched the stewardess talk with the gate attendant. What should I do? Stay or go?
"Maybe I didn't approach it the right way," Vail said.
"Wouldn't be the first time."
She looked at Robby, her brow knitted in annoyance. "Thanks."
"Just saying. Yeah, it's possible. But I don't think it matters now."
"I still feel like I should go back."
"Karen, I don't think that's a good idea."
Since when did that ever stop me?
Robby nodded toward the front. "Either way, I think the train has left the station. They're about to close the door."
"I can't do this," Vail said. "I can't just leave. I can't live with that." She yanked open her belt buckle and bolted for the exit.
But Vail did not wait. She ran down the aisle, her FBI creds dangling from her left hand. "Don't lock that door!"
The flight attendant spun around, her face knotted in confusion—and alarm. "What?"
Vail shoved her brass badge into the woman's face. "FBI, I need to get off the plane."
"But—I'm sorry, miss. I just locked her down."
"It's agent. And I don't care if you just closed the door. Open it."
"I can't. It's against FAA—"
"I'm not interested in whatever regulation you're going to quote. Open the goddamn door or you could be responsible for—"
"Is there a problem here?"
Vail turned—a second flight attendant had come up behind her. She glanced down at his name tag. "As long as she lets me out, Ed, no. There's no problem."
Robby cleared his throat, now lined up behind Ed. Robby gave Vail a dubious look. She ignored it and turned back to the woman.
"I'm going to call the captain," Ed said.
Vail pulled out her BlackBerry and offered it to Ed. "I've got a better idea. Why don't you call Douglas Knox? He's listed on my speed dial under 'FBI director.'"
VAIL AND ROBBY caught a cab and headed back into the city. She had already placed a call and left a voice mail, but instead of putting the phone away, she started dialing again.
"Now who are you calling?" Robby asked. "For that matter, where are we going?"
Vail paged through the numbers on her device. "I'm calling Russo."
"I don't think that's a good idea, Karen."
"You keep saying that."
"Maybe you need to start listening."
Vail turned to Robby and stared him down. Then she hit a couple of buttons and her BlackBerry connected. After four rings, it clicked to voice mail.
"He's not answering, is he?"
Vail clenched her jaw, then redialed. On the third ring, Russo answered.
"We need to talk."
"I'm done talking. Go home, Karen."
"I was. But I can't. I feel the need to see this through. And when I feel something, feel it strongly, I can't walk away."
"We are seeing it through. The BAU has done its job. Now it's our responsibility. Go home."
Vail felt Robby's eyes fixed on her face. She turned away, toward the side window.
"I—I want to help."
She heard muffled sounds—a woman asking Russo a question and then him giving orders to someone—a driver?
"Karen, I don't have time for this. I'm on the way to a scene. I'll get back to y—"
"Hang on a minute. Another vic? One of ours?"
There was a long silence.
"Russo, is there another vic?"
VAIL WALKED INTO the apartment in the Battery Park City high-rise, Robby bringing up the rear.
The crime scene detective, Ryan Chandler, had just arrived and was setting up shop. He looked surprised to see Vail, but then reached into his kit and tossed booties to her and Robby.
They slipped them on and continued into the room. Russo had arrived a while ago and was talking with Detective Leslie Johnson at the far end of the room. Russo looked up and saw Vail. His expression was a mix of—she wasn't sure. Embarrassment? Relief at her presence? Annoyance? No matter. This was not about her or Russo; it was about the victim in the other room and their shared imperative to catch the offender before more women turned up dead.
Robby came up behind her and murmured into her ear, "Staring at each other isn't going to get you anywhere."
"Right." Vail walked over to Russo and asked the obvious question: "Is this the same offender?"
"I thought you might want to answer that one for yourself."
"Looks like the same killer to me," Chandler said.
She turned to survey the apartment. It was a nice spread, well appointed, everything in its place. Not unlike the other crime scenes.
Vail started in the living and family rooms, getting to know the woman. She glanced at unopened mail on the coffee table and took the victim's name to be Katherine Stavros.
Greek. Big surprise there.
Vail found the medical examiner, Max Finkelstein, and conferred with him on the time of death.
"Bottom line," he said, "the guy you got in custody's good for this."
His answer clearly pleased Russo, but Vail was less than satisfied. She moved on to a wall that abutted the kitchen, where framed photos were prominently displayed. Vail looked them over and took in the story they told about the victim's life. Katherine seemed to have traveled a great deal: there were several exterior shots of her in various cities with male and female friends. Many of them looked like the kind of pictures posted to Facebook, iPhone candids of people having fun, sharing a beer or standing on a bridge with a city skyline behind them.
There were posed portraits as well, with what appeared to be family members—parents and great-grandparents, perhaps. Judging by their strong features and olive complexions, Katherine had Greek DNA in her cells.
Vail's phone rang.
As she started to turn away, her eye caught something. She leaned in closer, then lifted the frame off the wall and examined the photo—
Wait, what the hell?
Vail was trying to work it through her brain as she reached for her BlackBerry.
And then it hit her.
Oh my god.CHAPTER 2
ASTORIA, QUEENS Sunday, JANUARY 6, 1973
The bowling ball careened down the Astoria Lanes alley, spun left, and hooked into the pocket. All ten pins leaped off the polished wood lane and fell back with a satisfying crash.
Livana pumped her fist and grinned broadly. She turned to see Basil's reaction, but he still wasn't back from the café. Her joy faded as quickly as it had risen. He will never believe me!
Livana had taken up the sport only a couple months ago. Despite her initial resistance to the loud, smoky environment, she had come to enjoy the Sunday night outings when she, Basil, Cassandra, and Dmitri would bowl a few lines—Dmitri spending more time in the arcade with the pinball machines than on the lanes—and then grab a large pizza, Cokes, and egg creams for dessert.
Their longtime friend Fedor and his ten-year-old son, Niklaus, had started joining them three weeks ago. Livana and Fedor's wife, Ophelia, had met in the hospital in Greece, when they gave birth two days apart. Ophelia's baby died a week later from an unforeseen birth defect, but she got pregnant several months later with Niklaus.
Livana helped Ophelia through an extremely difficult time, and their friendship was cemented by the tragedy.
The two women had much in common, and the families started getting together regularly. Upon moving to the United States, they made time to go to the movies, to Flushing Meadow Park for picnics, to Shea Stadium for Mets games—or to Fedor's backyard for summer barbecues.
When Ophelia died of a massive coronary, her heart having been damaged by rheumatic fever she had contracted as a child, it hit both families hard. Together, they found strength to survive the void left by her death.
"Cassie," Livana said to her eleven-year-old daughter, who was writing in her diary, "Let's go find your father."
They left the lanes and headed for the café, passing the arcade on the way. She peeked in and saw a couple teenagers playing a game of foosball and a few others slapping at controllers on pinball machines.
Livana continued on but slowed a bit when she heard shouting emanating from the café—and then a loud crash of breaking glass. She ran the last thirty yards, rounded the bend and saw, through the doors, her husband kneeling over a man lying on the floor, his face bloodied.
"Basil!" Livana rushed in and rushed over to him. She glanced at the man on the ground, at Dmitri and Niklaus a few feet away, and then turned to Basil. "What happened? What's going on?"
"He started it," Basil said.
Livana took her daughter's hand. "Cassie, go back to our lane and wait there for me." Cassandra's gaze was fixed on the blood covering the man's face. Livana gave her a shove in the rear. "Take Dmitri. Go on, get out of here!"
Cassandra and her eight-year-old brother left the café as Livana knelt beside the injured male. "Nik, go to the front desk where we got the shoes. Tell them to call an ambulance."
Niklaus was staring at the downed man.
Livana's tone jolted him out of his trance and he ran out as a woman entered from the kitchen. "Just called one. And the police."
Livana felt her stomach knot up. Basil, what have you done? She pressed her fingers against the man's neck and checked his pulse. "He's unconscious but alive. I need something to keep him warm. Give me your sweater."
"My sweater?" Basil asked, his voice rising. "That jerk started the fight."
"Just give it to me!" she said, gesturing angrily for Basil to hurry. "We have to keep him from going into shock."
Livana laid the wool garment across his body, then rose and frowned at Basil in disgust. "This was supposed to be a family day."
"What's going on?" Fedor asked.
Livana looked up to see Fedor standing there, his eyes moving about the room as he took in the scene. "Where are the kids?"
"They're fine. Where were you?"
"I went to the bathroom." He rubbed his abdomen. "That Italian we had last night is still bothering me." He took a step closer and appeared to see the body for the first time. "Whoa, what happened?"
Livana turned toward the injured man and instinctively put a hand over her mouth. His face was sliced badly, and it was all she could do to keep from vomiting.
"TELL ME WHAT HAPPENED," Livana said, standing outside the café as the paramedics attended to the man they identified as Gregor Persephone. Fedor stood at Basil's side, an arm around his friend's shoulder. Fedor had started to talk, but Livana shushed him. "I asked my husband a question. And he seems to be having a hard time answering."
Basil looked at her but didn't speak.
"The police are going to be here any minute. You're going to have to tell them. You may as well tell your wife, no?" She waited a minute, then said, "This is so unlike you, Basil. I don't understand. I'm so disappointed." Still nothing. "That man looks like he's hurt real bad."
"I was just defending myself." Basil sighed, then rubbed his face with two bloody hands. "I ordered our pies and was drinking my beer. The waitress went back to put the order together. Then this woman comes up to me and—well, she starts coming on to me."
"She's dressed in this tight shirt, and she's got all this makeup on, fake nails, and she touches my face, says she's never seen me here before. I told her we just started coming. Then she touches my—she starts rubbing my crotch."
"I grabbed her hand and told her I was here with my son and I'm married and she gets all mad and slaps me in the face, starts screaming at me. Then that guy comes up to me—"
"What guy? Gregor?"
"You know him?"
"Everyone knows him. He's your boss's son. How could you not know him?"
"I—I've seen him around. But I've never talked to him, and he doesn't work at the factory. He's my boss's son?"
They all turned to see two NYPD officers standing near them.
"Which one a you's Basil?"
"You really had to ask?" the other officer said to his partner. "The one with blood all over his hands and face."
"Yeah, whatever. Better to be sure." He turned to Basil. "I'm Officer Kennedy, this is Officer Morgan. We need a word with you." He nodded his chin at Livana. "And you? You the wife?"
"We'll need to talk with you too." Kennedy pointed at Fedor. "You see the fight?"
Fedor shook his head. "I was in the bathroom."
"You know either of those guys?"
"Basil. He's my best friend."
"Take a seat." Kennedy indicated an area several feet behind him. "You two," he said, pointing at Basil and Livana. "With me."
Jethro Tull's "Living in the Past" was playing on a jukebox as they walked upstairs and then outside to a trash-littered alley. The officer pulled out a spiral notepad.
"So how'd this whole thing start?"
Basil shook his head, seemingly at a loss for words. "I really don't know. This woman just starts coming on to me. She touches my crotch, I grab her hand and tell her to stop. Then she slaps me, starts screaming at me, something like, 'Get the hell away from me, you pervert,' and this guy's suddenly there, pushing her aside. He says, 'You came on to my wife?'"
"'This guy'—you mean Gregor Persephone?"
"Yeah. I've seen him around the neighborhood, but I've never talked to him."
"You sure you've never talked to him before? This isn't from something that happened a week ago, a month ago—"
"I never talked to the guy. Ever."
"Ever talk to his wife? About anything?"
"I don't remember ever seeing her before. And I'd probably remember."
Excerpted from Spectrum by Alan Jacobson. Copyright © 2014 Alan Jacobson. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've always likened Alan's books to a ride on a really good roller coaster. Well, not Spectrum. This is much more of a crazy time in a game of Bumper Cars! Every time I thought that I had finally found a clear way out of the pack, BAM! I got blind sided and thrown entirely in another direction. It's fun watching Karen grow up, but then again she doesn't follow any path that you expect her to follow either. Bumper Cars........every page you turn takes you on another ride...I don't know how he does it, but he keeps on getting better every time he sits down to write. Don't miss this one.....It's an A ticket! (Just be prepared to turn it over and start reading it again as soon as you finish it the first time)
I have read all of Alan Jacobson's works and let me say that Spectrum did not let me down. In fact, I am going to say that it is my favorite of the series, so far! This book had it all....fast paced action, intriguing characters, an elusive serial killer and of course, Karen Vail, FBI profiler! I think what drew me in the most was the way that we were thrown back in time into Vail's life, both personal and professional...allowing us the opportunity to get to know her better and to watch her career develop from NYPD beat cop to an FBI profiler. Those of us who have read other Vail adventures, were able to relive some of her past cases, which was really fun! We were allowed to understand and get to know Karen Vail more as a woman, a mother, a co-worker and friend. It was a great ride. Alan Jacobson has a wonderful way of describing things in such detail that you feel like you are right there in the action with Karen. The way he intertwines facts and information into the story-line, it's like getting a history lesson and not even realizing it! I would recommend this book (and I will) to anyone that will listen to me! And if this is your first trek into the world of Karen Vail, I would highly recommend you check out all of Alan Jacobson's previous novels!
For those of you who’ve been following Karen Vail, you are in for a treat. And for those of you who haven’t, trust me, you’ll want to start. Going back in time, to 1995 to be precise, Karen just graduated from the police academy and is now a brand new NYPD rookie. On her first day as a patrol officer she gets called to a crime scene and has her first encounter with a serial killer. Twenty years later, now a skilled FBI profiler, Karen Vail gets back to NYC and still pursues that same guy that’s been evading the law for way too long. Mr. Jacobson magically merges the past and the present in this police procedural, threading the subplots with so much finesse that every tidbit of information is revealed exactly on time, making this book a must for mystery and procedural lovers. With outstanding clarity the author creates characters that are easy to empathize with—if not impossible not to. The beginnings of Karen Vail are an amazing asset to the character and the way she is explained and developed is stunning; her background and motivations, her developing into the agent she is in the present and the woman she is personally are all part of the relevance here. So sit tight and prepare to be attached to your favorite reading chair for this fast paced and engaging from start to finish thriller won’t let you stop until you catch the sought after serial killer.
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The most boring novel I have ever put down after 100 pages. Lots of useless filler material seemingly going nowhere. All the 5 star reviews must have been written by author or his schills. Extremely awkward writting style with much useless dialog to fill up the pages. Clearly a waste of my time and $$$.
Finally found time to read Spectrum. Did not dissapoint. Alan Jacobson, dies it again, just when you think you have it all figured out, better think again. Can't wait for the next book in the Karen Vail Series.
Enjoyed the new book Spectrum by Alan Jacobson. Love Vail's character! However it did wax and wane a bit and took too long to get to the unsub. I would recommend reading it. I hope we have not seen the last of Karen Vail.
Another fun book by Alan Jacobson. Whether you're jumping into the Karen Vail series for the first time or you've followed each novel from the start, you'll enjoy Spectrum. It's both the next in the series and prequel at the same time. In the previous works, you learn about Vail's life in very general terms, Spectrum her the back story giving us much more insight to what makes her tick and how she became the premier profiler. We get that history while being exposed to two stories, one of two Greek families whose lives are suddenly and dramatically changed forever, forced to live in quasi-exile; and of a gruesome, decades long crime spree. Once again, these stories are intertwined and merge together with twists and turns leading to the surprising climax. Alan Jacobson has become one of the premier thriller authors.
I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review. These genre of book is right up my alley. Anything to do with murders and cops are always normally really good to read. I have to say I didn't guess who the murderer was until 86% in and the light bulb came on. We go between the present and the past within this story. We have Karen Vail who is a police officer and she gets to be put on to her first crime scene. Sounds pretty awesome right? Well her first crime scene starts the time table for hunting for a killer for twenty years. Vail is very fresh and has a spot on thinking outside the box on a crime scene and that is always good. But Vail I believe gets more than she bargains for with this serial killer dubbed Hades. It is like all the clues are right there but they have to be put together for it all to click. Not only that she has to try and stay strong and work on things within her marriage. You know it always seems that the past always catches up to the present and this book was no different. There was lots of action and intensity written within the story line that I did not want to put it down. I did enjoy watching Vail never giving up and striving for better that is what I like to see in a female character who plays a cop. The characters are written with personality, the story line keeps you wanting to read more the mystery keeps you wanting to know who has dun it and why. Now as I am looking at other reviews I saw that this is part of a series. I didn't know that at all. This is a really good stand alone which is sometimes hard for an author to write if a book is part of a series. I do plan on reading more in this series because the author does a great job reeling you in and leaving you wanting more.
*Copy provided by Netgalley for an unbiased review. This is the sixth book in Jacobson's "Karen Vail" series, and while I'm not completely caught up on the series (and try very hard to read books in a series in order), I took a chance on this one because much of the book is a flashback to how Vail became an FBI profiler. This one takes us back to 1995 when she's a rookie cop in New York and then switches back and forth from past to present as she follows the NYPD's progress on finding a serial killer case that was one of the earliest cases in which she was involved. We find out what made her the profiler that she ultimately becomes and how she met her mentors, as well as how she met her ex-husband. I found it to be an interesting look at Vail's past, as well as a satisfying (and surprising) investigation into a series of killings in New York City. I look forward to going back and reading the books I haven't yet read in the series (and having her backstory in mind as I do).
Author Alan Jacobson has given us a female lead character who is heroic, intuitive, bright & humorous – veteran FBI profiler Karen Vail. In "Spectrum" (Karen Vail, Book #6), Jacobson skillfully propels us back & forth, into the past & present, taking us back to Vail’s beginnings as an NYPD uniformed officer, while illustrating the twists & turns of her first major case. Along the way, we meet her key instructors, mentor & partners who aided & challenged Vail in her growth as a student (later, expert analyst) in criminal law enforcement & her life as a wife/mother. I’ve never been to New York City, but thanks to Jacobson’s vivid imagery, I feel as if I could navigate parts of the city as well as Ellis Island & the Statue of Liberty. NYC is as much a part of this story as the multi-layered characters are. Hats off to Jacobson for weaving the insights of a real-life FBI profiler, whom he names, into the story! Seems an ingenious homage to those who aid this writer in his never-ending research, questions & need to “get it right” when it comes to the world of Karen Vail. I think you could read this book as an introduction to an intelligent, well-rounded character, but to really appreciate Vail, to see the growth of her abilities, understanding of relationships & the motivations of the human predators she must find & stop – please pick up Jacobson’s other Karen Vail books. In short: Karen Vail ROCKS!
This thriller keeps the reader in suspense and locked in through the entire story. The novel jumps around in time and place, but clearly identifies each chapter as to where and when. This may be a new release, but I am positive I read this same story in the past. Nonetheless, I found it well worth-while to read it again. It was very difficult to put down.
Spectrum by Alan Jacobson Reviewed Russell Ilg Alan Jacobson has taken the FBI Profiler Karen Vail series to a whole new level in Spectrum (Open Road, $17.99, 438 pages). Jacobson rewinds the revered profiler back to the beginning, when Karen Vail begins her law enforcement career as a patrol officer just out of the NYPD’s academy. Her natural instincts are shown in their raw form, giving us a glimpse of what’s to come and demonstrating that she needs the kind of polishing and refinement that only years of experience and street knowledge can provide. Vail’s academy instructors see great promise in the young recruit and offer her a taste of detective work by temporarily teaming her with veteran detective sergeant Carmine Russo. Officer Vail’s first crime scene, that of a woman who has been murdered in a strange manner, not only gives Vail a taste of homicide but it sets in motion a 20 year pursuit of a serial killer who’s been terrorizing Manhattan. The many years Jacobson spent with the FBI to learn everything he could, more so than just about any other author, enables him to know the ins and outs of FBI operations. He maintains contact with the profilers even today, some 20 years later, and this translates to the believability we’ve come to expect from an Alan Jacobson novel. In Spectrum, he takes this knowledge and research approach to New York City, where he worked closely with several NYPD chiefs, captains, detectives, and patrol officers to stage some nail-biting scenes that look at Manhattan in a way that only Jacobson can. As Vail shoots up the ranks of the NYPD, we see the cases that shaped her and the spark that ultimately leads her to becoming the profiler we’ve ridden along with all these years (and novels). But not all goes according to plan, and adversity both in her professional and personal lives nearly derails both her career and her marriage. And of course, dogging her all this time is a serial murder case that stumps the department, and her. When a teaching session exposes her to behavioral analysis, a different approach to police work, Vail is more than intrigued. She gets to know one of the profilers who spoke at the conference (one of the real FBI profilers that Jacobson has known for 20 years, “playing” himself in the novel), which becomes significant later in the story. Spectrum spans forty years, as part of the novel revolves around a Greek immigrant family in Astoria, Queens, during the early seventies and eighties. Jacobson does a terrific job of historically putting us in the past as we follow the challenges and travails that plague this family. The Greek subplot dovetails not only with what’s happening in Vail’s career, but the present, when everything comes to a head in some very exciting and thrilling scenes—another Jacobson trademark. In Spectrum, Alan Jacobson takes us back in time to the roots of Karen Vail in a way that brings more life to her not only as a cop but as a person. While we know who she is in the present day, Spectrum shows us how she got there through the events and misfortunes that made her the driven FBI agent we’ve come to know. Spectrum is rare in that it’s an excellent entry point for readers new to the Karen Vail series, but also serves as a perfect sixth installment. It’s not just one of Jacobson’s finest novels to date, but one that must have been his hardest to write. He does it so well that it has taken him to new heights as the best of the best in suspense fiction.