Author Q&A with Brian Freeman, author of Marathon

Brian Freeman’s heart-pounding new thriller, MARATHON (QUERCUS, 5/2/17), draws inspiration from recent events to paint a portrait of crime in an American city that is also a dark reflection of national politics. With echoes of the Boston Marathon bombing, when people’s lives were forever changed at the finish line, this timely and poignant novel addresses some of the defining issues of our time: terrorism, fear of the other, and the raw power of social media to shape the public’s understanding of events.

On a rainy June morning, tens of thousands of people crowd into Duluth for the city’s biggest annual event: the Duluth Marathon. Exhausted runners push to reach the finish line and spectators line the streets to cheer them on. Then an explosion along the racecourse leaves dozens of people dead or injured.

Within minutes, Duluth PD homicide detective Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial, and Maggie Bei get to work sifting the debris for clues to who’s behind the bombing. Soon the investigation is taken over by the FBI, whose lead agent is certain the act has all the hallmarks of Islamic terrorism. Complicating matters, the social media feed of a conservative First Amendment activist immediately floods the community with rumors and unfiltered information about the bombing.

One spectator, joining the community-wide effort to help the authorities, remembers being jostled by a young man with a backpack not far from the bomb site. He spots the man in a crowded photo of the event and tweets out that this is  the same individual who bumped into him in the crowd—but now the backpack is missing.
In a matter of minutes, the young man identified in the tweet, Pakistani immigrant and cab driver Khan Rashid, becomes the target of a massive manhunt

But are the answers behind the Duluth bombing more complex than anyone realizes? And can Stride, Serena, and Maggie get to the truth before more innocent people are killed in the spiraling confrontation between the Feds and the Islamic community?


1.)  Can you tell us a bit about the research that went into Marathon?

Doing the research for this book was both scary and uplifting.  On the scary side:  I got a crash course in bombmaking and the security demands for large-scale events.  However, despite the ongoing threat of violence, there are few events more inspirational than a marathon.  It’s such a personal triumph for every individual who participates.  My wife and I have been spectators at the marathon in Duluth for the last two years, and it’s an extraordinary experience.

I also got to know Muslims in Minnesota and learned more about their values, their family life, and their religion.  It was an honor.  And I was pleased to find their love of the U.S. undimmed by the fact that they are often caught in the middle between the extremists who have hijacked their religion and the angry rhetoric that arises in the wake of terrorism.


2.)  What is the biggest lesson that Stride learns in Marathon?

People assume that the title MARATHON refers to the race.  In fact, the title arises out of one of Jonathan Stride’s lines in the book.  In talking to a Muslim leader, he says: “Building trust between us isn’t a sprint.  It’s a marathon.”  That’s the lesson for Stride as he tries to keep his community together.  Hopefully, it’s a lesson for all of us.  We have to talk to each other.  That’s how we stop hatred, and in the end, that’s how we stop violence, too.


3.)  Give us a glimpse inside the cover design – what was that process like?

It’s a shocking cover:  the debris of an explosion in black and white, and a man with a backpack in the middle of it.  With most covers, we go through several iterations to find an image that closely fits the book and the theme.  This time, we knew it was right from the first review.  Everyone thought this cover would grip readers and make them pull the book off the shelf.


4.)  Social media plays a huge role in this book. Where do you see the world of social media and all its implications 10 years from now?

Yes, Twitter is almost a “character” in this novel.  I wanted to showcase the way social media contributes to the divisions in society and the way misinformation can spread like wildfire – sometimes with tragic results.  Social media has become a player in every crime scene.  What will we see in 10 years?  I don’t think you can turn back time, but I hope we will learn some patience again.  Technology moves at the speed of light, but human beings don’t.  Tragedies should force us to slow down.


5.)  What is up next for Jonathan Stride?

I haven’t even begun to think about what’s next!  Stride is a character who grows and changes with every book, and MARATHON is bound to take an emotional toll on him.

I write every Stride novel so that new readers can embrace the series even if they haven’t read any of the previous books.   That’s especially true of MARATHON.  It’s also a novel that’s perfect for book club discussions because of the timeliness of the issues, so I hope many book club readers discover it.  In fact, you can invite me to join your discussion by FaceTime or Skype by writing to me at brian@bfreemanbooks.com.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chicago native and longtime resident of the Twin Cities Brian Freeman is an international bestselling author of psychological suspense novels. His books have been sold in 46 countries and 20 languages and have appeared as Main Selections in the Literary Guild and the Book of the Month Club. He is the author of The Cold Nowhere, a finalist for the 2014 Minnesota Book Award. Freeman’s first novel, Immoral, won the Macavity Award in 2005 and Spilled Blood won the 2013 ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel; he has also been nominated for many other awards, including the Edgar, the International Dagger, the Anthony, and the Barry. In 2011, The Burying Place was a finalist for the Thriller Award and The Bone House was a finalist for Best Audiobook of the Year in Thriller/Suspense as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Freeman has sold millions of copies of his books worldwide.


Website http://www.bfreemanbooks.com/

Twitter @bfreemanbooks

Facebook http://facebook.com/bfreemanfans


  1. Kathy Valentine says:

    Great Q&A!! ,shared on all my socials!!

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