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.