MARATHON Season

Some more great reviews for MARATHON this week. Make sure it’s on your summer reading list!

“With strong characters and a propulsive plot, this thriller races to a breathless finish before truth becomes collateral damage.” – Star Tribune

“One of the top writers in the genre today….Freeman’s MARATHON is a firecracker that doesn’t exploit the headlines as much as blows them apart and delves into the topics that really matter – all within a story that never lets up.” — Cemetery Dance

Invite Me to Your Book Club

I’ve been telling readers at all my tour events that MARATHON was written for book club discussions.

It’s a book designed to get people talking to each other.  It’s filled with characters making good and bad choices — and with characters you may love or hate at different points throughout the book.  Agree or disagree, you will want to share your thoughts with your friends about how this book reflects today’s society.

I’ve added book club discussion questions to the MARATHON page on my web site to help guide your meeting.

And why not ask me to be a part of it?  I feel so strongly about this book that I’m asking book clubs around the country to put this book on their list — and then invite me to join the discussion by FaceTime, Skype, or phone.  You can reach me via the Contact page on the website.  Let’s talk!

 

Available Now

The wait is over!  My new Jonathan Stride thriller MARATHON is available now in e-book, hardcover, and audio.

This is a very important book for me.  It was clearly inspired by the events in Boston four years ago, but I made a decision early on not to write a book simply about terrorism.  We have many fine thriller writers who have covered that ground.  I wanted to write a very different kind of book — one that deals with hatred in its rawest forms and shows how hatred becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of violence and revenge.

I also wanted to shine a spotlight on how social media has changed the way we relate to tragedies.  In MARATHON, the “incident” deliberately happens off-stage, and the reader discovers that something has occurred through “tweets” — much the way we find out about shocking news in real life.  Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become our source of news, but along with the hard information, there is also rumor, misinformation, and wild speculation.  That’s a dangerous combination.

MARATHON is made for book clubs.  You’ll find book club discussion questions on my website.  This novel is intended to get people talking about the things that divide us and the things that bring us together.  I hope you’ll add it to your list this year (and if you do, feel free to invite me to join your discussion by FaceTime or Skype).

Don’t forget to post your own reviews, too, at Goodreads, Amazon, BN, and other readers sites.  Your feedback really does make a difference.

Happy reading!

Three-Dimensional Characters

You typically see the plot of my books through the eyes of several different characters. Stride, Serena, and Maggie are always there – but so are victims, perpetrators, and innocent bystanders. Their stories intensify the emotion of the thriller, because every crime has ripple effects that change lives in unexpected ways.

I want these characters to feel “three-dimensional” on the page, but I’m often writing about people with very different experiences from my own. To bring them to life, I need help.

For example, the characters in MARATHON include an ordinary Muslim family – husband, wife, and child – whose world is turned upside down by a violent attack and its aftermath. This family should feel as genuine and sympathetic to the reader as next-door neighbors. However, my own experience has given me little interaction with Islamic life or culture from which to build realistic Muslim characters.

Online resources are always valuable when doing character research, but I wanted something more personal – so I reached out to members of the Muslim community in the Twin Cities. There was initially some wariness in their response. Too many popular thrillers deal with Muslims only through the lens of Islamic extremism, and I had to persuade them that I wanted to write a story with greater depth and nuance. When they understood what I was trying to do, they were very gracious in sharing personal stories with me.

In the end, I had the opportunity to talk about day-to-day life, culture, and religion with several members of the Muslim community and to observe one of their Friday prayer services. Their generosity in sharing their values, beliefs, and fears was essential to my research. I hope I’ve lived up to their trust by creating Muslim characters in MARATHON who are sincere, flawed, heroic, and misguided in equal parts – in other words, people who are exactly like all of the other three-dimensional characters I try to bring to my novels.

MARATHON Book Tour

The book tour for MARATHON is set!

Join me in May at events in Duluth, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Houston, and Vero Beach. I’ll be talking about the “ripped from the headlines” themes in MARATHON, reading from the book, answering all your questions — and, of course, signing copies for you.

If I’m coming to your area, I hope you’ll stop by and meet me.

Click here to visit my website for all the details on dates, times, and locations.

 

MARATHON: The Echo Chamber

Are we more divided than ever before?

Sometimes it seems that way.  Tragedy doesn’t bring us together the way it once did.  Too often, rather than turning to each other for support, we retreat to separate corners and to our own political philosophies.

The rise of social media seems to have accelerated this divisiveness.  If you agree with someone, social media is an echo chamber reinforcing what you think.  If you disagree, it’s an information superhighway crowded with road rage.  That’s why I chose to make social media an important theme in MARATHON – because sites like Twitter and Facebook have become players in shaping how we react to the world.

Look at Twitter, for example.  There’s something about that 140-character limit on Twitter posts that washes away restraint and encourages people to hurl spicy little fireballs at one another.  As one of my characters in MARATHON complains to her husband, “I always know when you’re looking at Twitter.  Your face gets so angry.”  She’s right.  Twitter can be a perfect little outrage factory.

Social media not only makes us angrier, it also makes it easier for us to leap to the wrong conclusions.  That’s especially true in the aftermath of tragic events.  Information spreads lightning fast – but so does misinformation.  What starts out as news quickly becomes an online breeding-ground for rumor and speculation, and the results can easily spiral out of control.

Stride doesn’t just have to solve a murder in MARATHON.  He also has to deal with a powder keg of online paranoia that threatens to burst from the virtual world into the real world of Duluth.

MARATHON: A Tale of Two Cities

On April 15, 2013, two pressure-cooker bombs detonated in the crowd during the Boston Marathon.  Three spectators died in the explosions, and hundreds were injured.

Every terrorist attack horrifies us with its senseless violence and loss of life – but I think the Boston bombing prompted a special outrage, because it violated an event that represents the best of what people can strive for and achieve, and because the marathon itself is so much a part of the identity of the city of Boston.

It’s not often that I create a plot that is directly “ripped from the headlines,” but no one will miss the fact that the real-life events of the Boston bombing inspired MARATHON.  Duluth, like many cities, offers an annual race that plays host to tens of thousands of runners and spectators from around the world.  As a result, I wanted my Duluth-based police lieutenant, Jonathan Stride, to deal with all of the challenges and raw emotions of a similar tragedy.

However, the explosion in MARATHON, with its unsettling parallels to what happened in Boston, is only the beginning.  The story of this novel is really a story of how hatred in all its forms becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of violence, loss, and revenge.

My books often deal with sensitive themes, and I try to deal with these issues in shades of gray, not just black or white.  That’s especially true of MARATHON.  I wanted to write a lightning-paced thriller that also deals openly and honestly with issues of anger, prejudice, and extremism, especially when amplified by the echo chamber of social media.

There are no super-heroes or super-villains here, just ordinary people.  Some struggle to do the right thing; some do evil things.  Most have good intentions – but we know where good intensions can lead.  In the middle is Stride, trying to find the truth and bring people together despite their bitter divisions.

MARATHON is available for pre-order now online and through your local bookseller.

The Huffington Post

Go behind the scenes on GOODBYE TO THE DEAD and 10 years of my Jonathan Stride thrillers in this great interview from The Huffington Post.

Columnist-author Mark Rubinstein delves into the inspirations behind the book, the series, and my writing career. If you want to know how I approach my thrillers, this is a terrific place to start.

Do you have your copy yet of GOODBYE TO THE DEAD? Fresh Fiction says: “Master storyteller Brian Freeman knocks it out of the park with his latest Jonathan Stride crime thriller…hugely addictive with each unexpected twist and turn in the investigation….This compelling police crime thriller should be on everyone’s must-read list.”

Click here to read the HuffPo interview!

Available Now

The wait is over! Jonathan Stride is back…and GOODBYE TO THE DEAD is available right now.

I think this is one of those books you will want to add to your permanent collection. It’s a story that brings the past and present of Stride’s life together once and for all. I hope you enjoy it — and that you’ll help me spread the word to your reader friends.

goodbye-final-coverHere’s what Fresh Fiction had to say about the new book in their review:

“Master storyteller Brian Freeman knocks it out of the park with his latest Jonathan Stride crime thriller…hugely addictive with each unexpected twist and turn in the investigation….This compelling police crime thriller should be on everyone’s must-read list.”

I’ve got book tour events coming up in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. If I’ll be in your area, please stop by my event and pick up a signed copy! I’d love to meet you.

Happy reading!

Ten Years: A Pioneer Press Retrospective

CLICK HERE TO READ THE PIONEER PRESS ARTICLE.

With the release of my latest Jonathan Stride thriller GOODBYE TO THE DEAD just days away, Mary Ann Grossman of the Pioneer Press has written a wonderful retrospective on my ten years in the book business. It’s a great way to get to know me and my novels.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that I’ve spent a decade writing and publishing thrillers around the world — about a third of my working life. As someone who dreamed of writing books from a young age (I was working on a mystery novel in sixth grade!), this really has been the achievement of a life-long goal. The publishing business is one of the toughest ways to make a living, but it also offers rewards that you can’t get anywhere else.

More than anything, as you’ll see in Mary Ann’s article, I’ve been fortunate to run this business as a partnership with my wife, Marcia. (She gets the first two words in every book!) We do this all together — editing, marketing, hitting the road, doing events — and that’s the best part of this new life we created ten years ago.

I hope you enjoy getting to know us in this article — and I hope you buy a copy of GOODBYE TO THE DEAD and fall in love with it. It’s one of my own personal favorites among my novels.