A first novel that’s part police procedural, part courtroom drama—a sort of Law and Order in hardback.
Two girls from the same high school go missing within 14 months of each other. Is there a serial killer at work in relatively safe Duluth? Looks that way to the local media, but not to police lieutenant Jonathan Stride. Estimable Stride won’t cave to pressure. He sees significant differences in the two cases. Rachel Deese, for instance, has family problems not shared by Kerry McGrath. Stride senses that Rachel’s relationship with her stepfeather, Graeme Stoner, is badly out of whack, and soon he has evidence indicating that Stoner has been forcing himself on Rachel. Did she finally threaten to expose him? Did Stoner, a leading banker, a pillar of the community, a man with a privileged position to protect, retaliate desperately? Would the cops, in the fullness of time, discover Rachel’s dead body? To Stride, the answer is yes, on all counts. He builds his case; it goes to trial with Stoner indicted for murder, though without benefit of a corpse. The defense denigrates the evidence as merely circumstantial; the prosecution acknowledges what it must. And then, suddenly, shockingly, the trial is interrupted, never to resume. Three years later, Duluth cops get a phone call from authorities in Las Vegas that they always half-expected but that serves only to darken a lingering mystery.
Freeman, who works for a law firm, brings his courtroom scenes to life. If he could have done the same for his warmed-over cops, he might have had something special.