cover image Stalked


Brian Freeman, . . St. Martin's Minotaur, $24.95 (360pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36327-7

In Freeman's chilling, atmospheric latest, Jonathan Stride returns from a Las Vegas stint (in Stripped ) to head the major crimes detective bureau of his former Duluth, Minn., department. When the husband of Maggie Bei, Stride's former detective partner, is murdered, Maggie becomes the prime suspect, and Stride determines to clear her. Meanwhile, Dan Erickson, an ambitious Duluth county attorney, hires Stride's lover, PI Serena Dial (who returned with Stride from Vegas), to pay off a blackmailer. Freeman slowly weaves the cases together into a labyrinthine search for a serial killer. Following the anonymous predator as well as the cops, the reader is teased by the fiend's identity and hidden motives. The stalwart, intuitive Stride digs into the case's disparate elements, including the city's sexual underworld, and a terrified Serena runs into serious trouble. A strong narrative crammed with twists and studded with sex and violence; a mysterious, even mystical, sense of place; and a well-crafted set of characters and relationships make this one of Freeman's stronger crime thrillers. (Feb.)