Vanguard, Sep 2009, $25.95
After a particular rough case and the take down of a cop killer in front of the White House, FBI profiler Karen Vail is ordered by her boss to take a vacation. She and her boyfriend Detective Robby Hernandez head to Napa Valley.
While they are inside a wine cave on the Silver Ridge Estate, Karen sees a look of despair on the face of a worker that tells her something is wrong. Showing their credentials, she and Robby are escorted to the site where a woman lies dead with her breasts eviscerated and a toe nail ripped from her right foot. Vail quickly concludes an experienced serial killer performed the ghastly deed. The lead detective Redmond Brix makes it clear to her he does not want her anywhere near his case, but his superior overrules him; Karen joins the task force.
Another female body with the same M.O. is found followed by a third corpse in the same condition soon afterward, but this body is male. The link between the deceased is that all three were involved in the Georges Valley Wines dispute, but Karen is confused as there are other victims with seemingly no ties. Karen puts her life on the line to capture the killer, but she also seeks answers that tie all the murders together; the only one who can provide them is the killer, who already has cops on his dead list.
Told from the viewpoints of the protagonist and the antagonist, readers see fascinating perspectives of a predator and a hunter challenging one another. The serial killer stuns readers as John Wayne Mayfield has no remorse when it comes to killing humans; he has hidden strategic goals and objectives that will shock the audience because some of his targets are killed for a specific reason. Karen pushes her way onto the task force because she believes they need a profiler to take down this brilliant psychopath. CRUSH is a very exciting and chilling thriller.