cover image Immoral


Brian Freeman, . . St. Martin's/Minotaur, $22.95 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-312-34042-1

A Harlan Coban–esque murder/psychological suspense structure and some uninspired writing ("He saw urgency written in her face") add up to a mildly interesting but unsurprising thriller for first-timer Freeman. Called to investigate the disappearance of beautiful teenager Ruth Stoner, Duluth, Minn., police detective Lt. Jonathan Stride is haunted by the disappearance of another teen, Kerry McGrath, 14 months earlier. Stride's an honest, likable cop, full of angst over the cancer death of his beloved wife. He has a great working relationship with diminutive partner Maggie Bei, who's been in love with him for years. As Stride and Mags investigate, the only aspect of the case that becomes clear is that everyone involved with the crime—the victim, her family and her friends—is guilty of something. Tweezing apart these strands of guilt and trying to connect them to the missing Ruth occupies Stride for more than three years. Finally, in an extended denouement, the pieces fall into place, and Stride is able to solve not only the mysteries of both Ruth and Kelly, but mend his own fractured life as well. BOMC and Literary Guild main selections; Doubleday Book Club and Mystery Guild alternates. (Sept.)