Marathon by Brian Freeman
Quercus (May 2017)
408 pages; $19.16 hardback; $12.99 e-book
Reviewed by Dave Simms
This book will undoubtedly hit several nerves for fans of well-written, tight, timely thrillers. Brian Freeman (Editor’s Note: Not to be confused with Cemetery Dance staffer and author Brian James Freeman) has cemented himself as a strong contender for being one of the top writers in the genre today. Marathon is a firecracker which doesn’t exploit the headlines as much as blows them apart and delves into the topics which really matter—all within a story that never lets up. It does, however, let the novel breathe.
The Boston Marathon bombing is mirrored somewhat here, which Freeman touts himself. The immediacy of the horrors in our backyard is unnerving, and builds a claustrophobic world in which the characters struggle to survive. What could have been a simple, reactionary page-turner became something special here.
A bomb explodes in the middle of a marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, of all places, immediately putting the reader on notice that terrorism can happen anywhere. The lives affected transform the story from one of sensationalism to one of humanism. Freeman’s previous works have shown his ability to put his readers front and center, connecting them to the everyman.
Jonathan Stride is back for the eighth time, along with Serena Dial and Maggie Bei. This story delves into their lives and the personal tolls of terrorism, making this story much more horrific than the standard thriller fare. A far-right wingnut has been taunting her detractors and deriding the Muslim community. When the bomb goes off, one can only imagine where this would head, except it goes there and much, much deeper. The suspect list is longer than the one Muslim citizen who is targeted via social media and causes the mob mentality which has the cozy town taking up pitchforks and torches. Everything here is too real, extremely personal, which makes Marathon a thriller which forces the reader to embrace his or her darker side.
Recommended for fans of any strong storytellng.