Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Inmate 1577 (Karen Vail) by Alan Jacobson

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 453 pages
  • Publisher: Norwood Press (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983626006
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983626008

Product Description 

National Bestselling Author Alan Jacobson brings back renowned FBI Profiler Karen Vail in an intelligent thriller that bridges time and space.

When an elderly woman is found raped and brutally murdered in San Francisco, Vail heads west to team up with SFPD Inspector Lance Burden and her former task force colleague, Detective Roxxann Dixon.

As Vail, Burden, and Dixon follow the killer’s trail in and around San Francisco, the offender continues his rampage, leaving behind clues that ultimately lead them to the most unlikely of places: a mysterious island ripped from city lore whose long-buried, decades-old secrets hold the key to their case. Alcatraz. The Rock.

About The Author

My literary career has been marked by a number of events, but none more significant than an accidental meeting nearly 20 years ago. While researching "False Accusations" at the Department of Justice's crime lab, I met FBI agent Mark Safarik, who was awaiting promotion to the FBI Behavioral Analysis (profiling) Unit--the one popularized by TV's Criminal Minds. We hit it off, stayed in touch, and Agent Safarik invited me out to Quantico to tour the FBI Academy and profiling unit. Thus began my immersion in the world of serial killers, rapists, bombers and arsonists.

Seven years later, my education had reached critical mass: I'd made numerous trips to the BAU, had countless hours of conversations with Agent Safarik and his partner; I'd edited four published FBI research papers on serial offenders and attended numerous FBI training courses; I'd shot submachine guns with the head firearms instructor at the Academy; and I'd parsed serial killers interviews with Agent Safarik. I felt that I owned the material well enough to use this knowledge and experience in writing my third novel, the first featuring FBI Profiler Karen Vail.

Vail had an explosive debut, bursting onto the scene in the national bestseller "The 7th Victim." Sporting a vibrant personality oozing sharp wit and sarcasm, Vail is a woman bucking the odds in a unit geared toward men, someone who always means well but, like you and me, makes mistakes. She has fears, loves, and vulnerabilities--and despite being very good at what she does--suffers perpetual unease about the decisions she makes. Because lives are on the line. Errors prove costly.

There's little doubt that Vail has resonated with hundreds of thousands of readers because she's real. But at the end of the day, Karen Vail is a cop you'd "go through a door with." That's how law enforcement officers of all stripes describe a colleague you'd entrust your life to when bullets are flying. And that's how the head of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers association described Karen Vail.

Vail has directed the action in "The 7th Victim," "Crush," "Velocity," and "Inmate 1577"--which are set in exotic locales, from Alcatraz to the Napa Valley, Las Vegas and San Diego to Washington DC. And wherever Karen Vail goes, trouble tends to follow.

My years of research and training with law enforcement have influenced me both personally and professionally and have helped shape the stories I tell and the diverse characters that populate my novels. So sit back, crack the spine--or click that button--and immerse yourself in the gripping world of Karen Vail.

But--before you go: I co-authored a free personal safety booklet with FBI profiler Mark Safarik. Hop over to my website,, and pick it up. Did I say it's free? Did I say it's super important for you and your loved ones in keeping them out of the crosshairs of violent criminals? (It is.) And while there, be social...and follow me on Facebook and Twitter. See you in cyberspace!

My Review

I had not read any of Alan Jacobson's novels previous to Inmate 1577.  It is a police procedural that I found really dragged along through the first third of the book.  There are also description of extreme violence that I found hard to take...probably because the violent act was taking place on women. I considered giving up on it and was very glad I didn't as the story did get more interesting and by the end of the book I couldn't put it down.  Excellent ending!

There are two stories that the author alternates between.  One story takes place starting in 1955 in New Jersey.  Walton MacNalley is charged with the murder of his wife.  He is eventually cleared of the crime but he is now a social outcast.  He and his son drift around the country and turns to robbing banks with his young son assisting when they have no money.  He ends up in Leavenworth, the prison for the worst of the worst.  Later he is transferred to Alcatraz where escape risks are placed.   In the main story FBI profiler Karen Vail is sent to San Francisco to assist with the investigation into a serial killer who is killing elderly couples.  The killer leaves a key behind at each crime scene. The two stories come together at the end with very surprising results. 

I do recommend this book if you enjoy police procedurals and can put up with some gore at the beginning.

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