Review

Stalked

by Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman’s writing is like a drug. His primary
character, Jonathan Stride, is one of the more intriguing
protagonists of recent memory; he is beset by tragedy but refuses
to succumb to it. Stride’s relationship with Las Vegas police
detective Serena Dial, which has blossomed slowly throughout the
course of this series, comes to full fruition in STALKED,
Freeman’s follow-up to IMMORAL and STRIPPED.

STALKED returns Stride, accompanied by Dial, to Duluth, Minnesota,
where he has reacquired his former position as lieutenant of the
detective bureau on the city police force. His immediate problem is
a murder investigation that hits very close to home. Eric, the
husband of Maggie Bei --- Stride’s friend and former squad
partner --- has been brutally murdered in his house. Bei was at
home and drinking when the murder occurred. The couple had
been experiencing marital difficulties, and Bei was on the verge of
filing for divorce over her husband’s infidelities. Worst of
all, Eric was murdered with Bei’s gun.

Stride is disqualified from the investigation due to his past
relationship with Bei --- and her unrequited feelings for him ---
resulting in the case being assigned to Abel Teitscher. Ironically
enough, Teitscher was appointed to Stride’s lieutenant
position when Stride had previously left, but lost the appointment
due to his taciturn personality, which provided the force with the
opportunity to lure Stride back to Duluth and promise to restore
him to his former position. Teitscher is already bitter and full of
anger due to the fact that his ex-partner on the force was jailed
years ago for murder under similar circumstances, and he continues
to feel betrayed due to the trust he had in her. His demotion, and
Stride’s friendship with Bei, makes his relationship with
Stride edgy at best.

Dial begins investigating on her own, in an attempt to prove
Bei’s innocence. She is retained at the same time by Dan
Erickson, the county attorney. Erickson is being blackmailed, but
rather than hiring Dial to ascertain the identity of the
blackmailer, he simply wishes for her to act as a go-between to
deliver the money the person is demanding. What the reader learns,
however, is that Dial, Erickson and a number of other residents of
Duluth are somehow mysteriously linked to the blackmailer, a madman
who is filled with a patient but homicidal rage.

The connection with Dial appears to be improbable --- given that
Stride is Dial’s only link to Duluth --- yet it seems that
the mystery man is everywhere, following Dial at will and being
aware of everything she says and does. Meanwhile, Bei is making
matters more difficult for Dial, Stride and herself by steadfastly
refusing to reveal secrets of her own, which not only might clear
her of the murder charges but also resolve some other crimes as
well.

Brian Freeman remains the brilliant storyteller from IMMORAL and
STRIPPED, combining strong characterization --- the delicate
relationship among Dial, Bei and Stride is a new wrinkle that is
intriguing, to say the least --- with perfect pacing and a
haunting, engrossing mystery. The result is another work that from
beginning to end is impossible to put down, even for a
moment.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Stalked
by Brian Freeman

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • ISBN-10: 0312363273
  • ISBN-13: 9780312363277