I’m always on the lookout for entertainments as well as for serious literature, so when I was clued in that Alan Jacobson was a hot newcomer on the mystery scene and that she’d actually spent an evening with him (and a few others–full disclosure here), I was glad for the chance to check him out. The Hunted is the second of Jacobson’s three novels, False Accusations being a best-selling first, The Seventh Victim the latest. Besides its other distinctions, The Hunted is perhaps the first blockbuster thriller set (at least in the beginning) in Placerville, CA. It was entertaining to imagine some of the scenes taking place in and around Placerville and Cameron as well as in the Sierra.
Of course, a real thriller can’t stick around such rural settings for long, and sure enough Jacobson fairly promptly carries us to D.C. and Quantico and has us running around with CIA and FBI and other clandestine personnel. One of the clandestine personnel is the protagonist, who has amnesia, hence the “Man Hunts Self” title of this piece. However, in addition to the protagonist, Jacobson has chosen to follow many characters and does an excellent job of keeping us up with them and in suspense about how they are all going to find one another and what’s going to happen when/if they do. There are a number of extremely clever chase scenes with narrow escapes and even captures and injuries that you’d think would end the story. Reminds me of a writing instructor who advised me to get the hero into scrapes that even you don’t know how he’s going to get out of. There are perhaps a couple too many of these. It got so I was saying oh, no, here we go again. But not a serious flaw.
My only major complaint with The Hunted was that the loose ends get tied up through narrative Agatha Christie style at the book’s conclusion. I much prefer to have the characters discover these matters for themselves, to follow the thinking and actions that lead them to the discovery. As it is, there’s too much Deus Ex Machina and such for my taste. However, others would probably disagree, and I didn’t spot any glaring anomalies in the plot, which is a major accomplishment.
The Hunted is a quick and rewarding read, and I hope the other books let me spend a little time in Placerville as well. I like the place in real life, and I have it as one of the settings in my own novel. Charge on, Alan.