After THE BURYING PLACE came a Jonathan Stride two-fer: my Stride short story “Spitting Devil” and the novella TURN TO STONE.
I took a break from Stride for a couple of books back then, writing THE BONE HOUSE (the first Cab Bolton novel, set in Florida and Door County Wisconsin) and then the stand-alone SPILLED BLOOD, which went on to win the Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel from the International Thriller Writers Association.
But Stride was still busy behind the scenes. “Spitting Devil” takes place shortly after the close of THE BURYING PLACE and is a wonderfully creepy look at a young wife named Alison Malville who is slowly going insane as she suspects her husband of being a serial killer. (Special note: the Malvilles reappear several books later in crucial roles in the full-length Stride novel MARATHON.)
Then, as we were getting ready for the launch of the next Stride book THE COLD NOWHERE, my editor and I decided to “re-introduce” Stride to readers who had missed him for a couple of years. So I wrote the novella TURN TO STONE, which is all-Stride — no Serena, no Maggie. TURN TO STONE takes Stride to a small town in Wisconsin to visit his mother’s grave — and he becomes enmeshed in a very dark mystery. This novella is also the only book in which the ending surprised even me! I thought I knew how everything was going to wrap up…but then, as I wrote the final chapter, the entire story turned on its head. Stride saw it coming — but I didn’t. But then again, he’s the detective, not me.
“Spitting Devil” and TURN TO STONE were both released as e-book and audio exclusives. Click below to find them on Amazon:
I also have a limited number of special print editions of both stories that we made for sale at library events. You can order those from the Spitting Devil and TURN TO STONE pages at my web site (bfreemanbooks.com).
The fifth Jonathan Stride novel, THE BURYING PLACE, begins with one of my all-time favorite scenes, as a young Duluth cop named Kasey Kennedy gets lost in the fog on her way home and stumbles into a horrific crime in progress.
In this book, Stride is recovering in a cabin in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, from the things that happened in the previous book, IN THE DARK — and his relationship with Serena is feeling the strain. I mentioned last week that there’s a scene in IN THE DARK that foreshadows all the fissures that break open among Stride, Serena, and Maggie in THE BURYING PLACE.
Interestingly, the characters saw it coming before I did. I didn’t know what was going to happen to them as I started this book, and I was shocked to see the direction they were leading me. But around the same time, I got the proofs for IN THE DARK, and I realized that the emotional groundwork had already been laid.
An amazing team of producers is working with the AMC television network to launch a Stride TV series, with season one based on THE BURYING PLACE. So read it now — and cross your fingers that we’ll also see it on the small screen soon.
This week: IN THE DARK, the 4th Jonathan Stride novel.
When we first met Stride in IMMORAL, he was grieving the loss of his long-time wife, Cindy — and that loss has cast a long shadow over the entire Stride series.
I wanted readers to have a chance to learn more about Cindy and how Stride’s relationship with her developed. So IN THE DARK (which appeared in the UK under the title THE WATCHER) is about the murder of Cindy’s sister, Laura, during a long-ago summer when Cindy and Stride were first becoming involved as teenagers.
When a journalist comes to town to write a book about that unsolved crime, Stride gets pulled back into a summer that transformed his life — and he must also deal with violence that ripples from the past into the present. Using chapters from the journalist’s story, the “book within a book” format lets the reader see Stride’s past through Cindy’s eyes.
The last chapter of this novel still brings me to tears whenever I read it. And pay close attention to the chapter where Stride and Serena are in his attic as he digs through boxes of photos and letters from his late wife. Many of the fractures between Stride and Serena that break open in the next book — THE BURYING PLACE — are telegraphed in that scene.
One more little secret about this book: In my first draft, the twist ending was totally different! I changed it during the editing process, but there are still lingering hints in the book about the alternate ending. Can you figure out what the original twist was?
There’s not much higher praise in the thriller world than a review like this from The Real Book Spy.
“It’s been a while since Jason Bourne sat atop the thriller genre, but with Brian Freeman at the helm, he retakes his seat among the best in the business.
THE BOURNE EVOLUTION arrives in bookstores on July 28…!
This week, a look back at the third Jonathan Stride novel: STALKED.
After Stride’s stint in Las Vegas, I knew he would come back home to Duluth. And I knew I wanted to write an ice-cold winter thriller. I like to give readers a “you are there” feel with my settings, so to capture the genuine flavor of a Duluth winter, Marcia and I spent all of January 2006 in a little cottage out on Park Point near Lake Superior. (Yes, imagine how thrilled she was with that adventure!)
So if you read STALKED and really feel like you’ve got ice balls hanging from your eyelids, that’s because I was out on the Lake Superior beach in the midst of a winter storm, with my voice recorder, taking down exactly how it felt.
I also loved the old 1890s-era cottage where we stayed — and I decided to make it Stride’s home. So that’s where Stride has lived in the series ever since. It’s actually a rental cottage, and readers and book clubs now go to stay there and soak up the Stride atmosphere!
STALKED may well be the darkest of any of my Stride novels…cold, violent, and sexy. And those scenes out on the frozen lake? They’re still some of my favorite writing. Enjoy!
Absolutely thrilled to see a starred review in Kirkus Reviews for THE BOURNE EVOLUTION. As a lifelong Robert Ludlum fan, I love hearing that this book “nails the Ludlum style” and is “a treat for fans.” Pub date is July 28!