The recovery of a gun used to kill a young woman outside a seedy Duluth, Minn., bar propels Freeman’s deftly plotted seventh Jonathan Stride novel (after 2014’s The Cold Nowhere). Nine years earlier, Dr. Janine Snow, a highly respected heart specialist, went to prison for fatally shooting her abrasive journalist husband, Jay Ferris. The gun used on Ferris wasn’t found, until the bar murder. The older case has a personal connection for police detective Stride; his beloved late wife, Cindy, was Janine’s best friend and drove her home on the night of the crime. Stride and Serena Dial, a police officer who’s also his girlfriend, investigate both murders. Meanwhile, Stride and Serena must deal with the problems of their pregnant 17-year-old ward, Cat Mateo. Stride’s heartfelt memories of Cindy and his reluctance to fully commit to Serena, coupled with an in-depth look at the book’s
supporting.Goodbye to the Dead is the 7th novel in the Jonathan Stride series. Jon Stride’s first wife died of cancer eight years earlier, but memories hang over his relationship with fellow detective, Serena Dial. When Serena witnesses a brutal murder outside a Duluth, Minnesota bar, she stumbles onto a case going back to the last year of Cindy Stride’s life. Though the murder weapon was never found, that earlier case led to the conviction and imprisonment of a prominent surgeon, Janine Snow. During the current investigation, Serena finds the gun used in the murder for which Dr. Snow was convicted; and Jon Stride begins questioning whether he made a terrible mistake eight years earlier by helping put an innocent woman in prison.
Jonathan Stride is very much the classic northern Minnesota man. He’s had a good deal of loss in his life, he’s not a super-hero and doesn’t always make the right choices; but he’s got an inner determination to seek out the truth. That’s why I chose the name ‘Stride’ for him. I wanted a name that conveyed a sense of step-by-step determination. Despite the losses in his life, he tucks his chin against the wind and keeps moving on.
There’s a very realistic trial depicted in Goodbye to the Dead. How did you gain knowledge of courtroom procedure?
Since my first novel Immoral, I haven’t written a courtroom situation. One of the best things about writing books is your research takes you to discover different lines of work. I spent a lot of time with one of Minnesota’s county attorneys talking about the specifics of trial strategy. He shared with me his expertise and even some trial transcripts. I absorbed a good deal of information trying to make the trial scenes as compelling and realistic as possible.
There’s also a riveting scene of mayhem at a Duluth mall. Did current events play into your having included that as part of the novel?
Certainly, that was on my mind. The scene was similar to a situation which occurred about nine years ago. It was after Columbine, but before so many of these massacres that have been occurring at what seems to be a weekly or monthly pace. I wanted to capture how a terrible tragedy like that might enter a community like Duluth; and I also wanted to portray the impact it would have on the people involved. Additionally, I wanted to explore how local law enforcement could misread the signs of impending horror. As I said, Stride isn’t a super-hero and couldn’t see the signs of danger until it was too late.
You once said, ‘My stories are about the hidden, intimate motives that draw people across some terrible lines.’ Will you elaborate on that?
There are many writers who tell different kinds of stories in the thriller genre: political thrillers, spy thrillers, urban crime stories among others. I like to focus on psychological issues. For me, the drama emerges out of the emotions, secrets, and backgrounds of the characters. I like to tell small stories that ripple out of the dilemas and decisions people make. I love exploring different characters and their personal choices, along with the impact of those decisions.
You’re hosting a dinner party and can invite any five people from any walk of life, living or dead, fictional or real people. Who would they be?
My wife would have to be there because if she wasn’t with me in a social situation, I’d be completely lost. I recently lost my Dad, and it suddenly hit me that I’ll never have another chance to talk with him again. I’d sure want to have him there, as well.
As a kid, one writer I loved reading was Robert Ludlum. I don’t write books anything like his, but as a teenager, I just loved his novels. I never got a chance to meet him before he passed away. I would love to sit down and talk with him about what he did in the thriller world. As a kid, I loved classical music, especially the symphonies of Gustav Mahler. I had the impression he was a tortured soul in creating his work. Last guest would be Erma Bombeck, who would lighten the mood. She would bring everyone back into the real world, the reality of everyday life.