Goodbye to the Dead: Brian Freeman
No two relationships are the same as Serena Dial realizes each time she reflects on how she and Chief Detective Jonathan Stride became closer. A prologue that is quite compelling as Serena searches a bar for 17 year old Cat, a young girl who came to stay with her and Jonathan as a result of her mothers death and circumstances that shattered her world and hoped that they might give her some solace, safety and peace. But, teens are unpredictable and Cat gets out and finds her way to a bar but in course of finding her Serena spies a young girl with a suitcase and something about her behavior and her flags trouble. Sometimes we don’t act on our gut reactions and instincts and the next time she sees this young girl she is lying dead outside of the bar, hoping to catch the killer, Serena falls but not without finding something metal before blacking out. That was the present let’s take a trip over 9 years back into the past and find out more.
Janine Snow is a prominent heart surgeon and best friend to Cindy Stride. Janine is smart, cunning and manipulative and manages to convince the world that she is trapped in a loveless marriage with nowhere to go. But, Janine’s husband Jay Ferris is equally as cunning but unfortunately not as astute as she is and just how does he manage to discredit a police officer, speak out on issues and report events that inflame others? But, his wife is revered in the medical community but what he learns about her helps keep her in check. What happens when he learns about her addiction to drugs and pills? What about her hidden hideaway where she can do as she pleases with anyone she wants? What about her many affairs? What would happen if the world found out?
A simple fund raiser and a ride home from her friend Cindy Stride changes it all as she gets drunk, asks her to stop on the way so she can be sick and finds herself the victim of yelling and abuse from her irate husband. But, Jay Ferris is murdered and Janine is the only suspect and even though Jonathan knows she is Cindy’s friend he and his partner Maggie know she is guilty. Evidence washed away, her clothes laundered and no gun found all everything still points to Janine committing the murder.
The back-story continues, trial date is set and the end result is Janine is found guilty of murdering her husband but for some reason one juror named Howard Marlowe refused to believe in her guilt and no matter how much his wife tried to make him understand that he was just besotted with her and that for some reason taken in, he refused to believe she was guilty. A jury foreman who was smart, astute and patient with Howard and who helped him sort through the pictures, evidence and transcripts yet never once believing in her guilt yet finally agreeing to the murder conviction. But, Janine spent 9 years in prison, Jonathan’s wife Cindy died and things between him and Serena Dial now come back to the present where another murder helps focus on the one from the past.
Kelly Hauswirth is the victim in the bar that was shot and killed, As Serena, Jonathan and Maggie talk about the victim, the case and the evidence you can feel the tension or icicles forming between both women. Kelly was in Duluth and she was the victim of what you might call a cyber attack from someone smart enough to lure her into his den. Thinking she was going to meet Prince Charming on line and learning her lesson too late. But, within this complex plot there is another that comes to light as we learn about human trafficking and the link to this group reverts back to the murder of Jay Ferris as the gun used to kill Kelly was the same one. Just how did they learn this and where would it take them you won’t believe as Cat becomes more rebellious and puts herself in danger. Dating someone named Al she learns a hard lesson about male loyalty and even worse about someone she considered her friend and trustworthy.
In between we learn more about Howard and his wife Carol and the book he is writing about Janine Snow and the murder hoping that some of the research will help free her. Another young girl is missing and has been taken by the cartel selling young women her name is Erin and Mattie 1987 is the handle he is using to lure her in as well as other handles too. Questioning Cat about her friend Anna leads them in a direction that just might find some answers but when Cat learns more about her boyfriend Al and seeks out Anna what happens next is terrifying as author Brian Freeman hopes to teach one teenage girl a lesson she won’t forget by instilling more then just fear in her. Pregnant and in need of guidance she never sees what is about to happen and when she does it might be too late for her and her child.
Events evolve and evidence is brought to light and a new prosecutor is in place and Janine Snow just might be free. The gun that Serena found outside of the bar is the same one that killed Jay Ferris but how? Where is the connection? Investigating the case takes Jonathan and Maggie to the home of Al and his mother. Learning more about his father and his relationship to Janine is quite interesting but there is much more. There is a maniac lose that goes on a rampage killing people in the mall but why? How does this all connect and will anyone learn the truth about Jay’s murder?
Nathan Skinner was a former Duluth cop but was fired for racial slurs and an article written by Jay Ferris. Did he kill him for revenge? Was someone paid off to take him out but why? Janine wanted a divorce did she find a way to rid herself of him?
While Maggie and Guppo learn more about Al and his mother when questioning them a spark ignites and a harsh truth comes out as Al puts Cat in danger when she decides to confront him. The scene is quite compelling and a mother who knows a hidden truth just might be the link that is needed to free Janine Snow. Why would someone protect this doctor who seems so self-absorbed and professes to be not guilty? Why did Cindy Stride stick by her and was Jonathan wrong in convicting her? An ending that will stupefy readers, surprises and twists that only author Brian Freeman can create, as Jonathan and Maggie come upon a scene that is right out of a Twilight Zone or Sci-fi movie.
Sometimes justice is meted out in an unusual fashion and sometimes those that are guilty pay a price but not in the way you might think. Is Janine guilty? Who killed Jay Ferris and why? Will Serena and Jonathan be able to save Cat from a killer’s bullet? Will she realize that they only want the best for her? What about her child? Will she keep it or will she decide to give it up for adoption? These questions are left unanswered as the author shows just how sometimes we say Goodbye to the Dead in a unique an graphic way. Once again Brian Freeman raises the bar really high with this mystery/thriller whose characters blend well together, whose goals are the same but whose method of execution are sometimes unorthodox. But, the final real question is: Will Maggie ever realizes that Troy might be the right one! More to come in the next Jonathan Stride novel! Can’t wait!
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews/MJ Magazine