Spectrum by Alan Jacobson
Release Date - October 2014
Open Road Media
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
Karen Vail is back. This time decades pass as she tracks a ruthless serial killer who is leaving bodies throughout New York City. The story begins with a family who is targeted by the mafia, forcing them to flee into the shadows to avoid more tragedy. Jump forward in time and Karen's starting out her long career and is assigned to a homicide in which the killer carves a specific pattern into the back of each victim's head.Two decades pass while Vail chases leads and tries to target a killer who is getting closer and closer with each step she takes.
In Spectrum, there is a lot of jumping back and forth between eras. While these jumps are thoughtfully laid out, it does require the reader to shift back and forth frequently. I found it took a bit of time to get into that rhythm, but it's worth settling in. It gives exceptional insight into Karen Vail, which is helpful if you are new to the series or it's been a while since you've read the last book.
Throughout the novel, I found myself angry for so many characters. Getting so emotionally involved definitely showcases the author's talent at drawing the reader in. While I'd figured out the killer's identity long before Vail (which is easy given the way the book is set up), I still needed to read every word to see how everything would turn out.
In the end, I found myself thinking of Karen Vail as being very much like the lead female detective in one of my favorite British shows, Life on Mars. There is the same sexism that she must fight, and she does so in very real, honest ways.