Marathon: Brian Freeman: Starred Review
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution was created and written to protect the right to freedom of religion and freedom of expression from government interference. Defined freedom of expressions incorporates the right to freedom of speech, press, and assembly and to petition our government for a redress of grievances and the implied rights of association and belief. Two specific clauses of this amendment define our freedom o religion and the establishment clause disallows the government to create and establish an official religion or preferring one over another thereby enforcing “separation of church and state.” The primary component of freedom of expression is the right to freedom of speech, which gives people the ability to express themselves without interference or constraints placed on them by the government. But, what happens when people decide to voice their opinions in public, create rallies, conferences and want vigilante justice because people in their communities are of different races, ethnic backgrounds and they assume because of what they are they are terrorists, criminals and will do anything to stop these people in the name of the first amendment regardless of the cost to the community and the many lives that might be destroyed and lost. The setting is the Duluth Marathon the place is filled with hundreds if not thousands of spectators as families, friends and passerby’s wait for each one to cross that coveted finish line. Because of what happened during the Boston Marathon Jonathon Stride a Duluth Detective and his wife Serena along with his team are on the look out for anyone suspicious, wearing anything unusual and hoping that this day will end on a positive note. Waiting for Serena to cross the finish line, looking for Cat, the young street kid who now lives with them, the tension seems to be building, someone gets shoved by someone with a backpack and the end result is someone set up a bomb in the Duluth Company Store that killed, maimed and injured an unknown amount of people. It happened so fast that everyone was caught off guard and yet one woman, Dawn Basch seemed ready to jump on the bandwagon, rally to ignite the public and claimed freedom of speech: NO EXCEPTIONS! On this very day in June, the rain might be falling but the audience was huge and the people were pumped for excitement as the Duluth Marathon was in play. Runners hoping to finish the race and being cheered on by everyone watching it little did they know that the echoes from the Boston Marathon would ring out and the explosion along the race course would end the lives of an insurmountable amount of people.
Watching, planning, talking to his team did not stop what someone had already put in place as Jonathan Stride, Serena Dial and Maggie Bei along with a team from the FBI and one profiler named Gayle Durkin would team up to try and find the bomber before he/she strikes again. Twitter carriers flooded with tweets, pictures and rumors hoping to join in the hype and spread the word, even wrong and even misinformation so that they are in the spotlight and feel famous. Someone pushed past a man named Michael and his son Evan wearing a backpack near the bombsite. A Muslim man in a tourist photo of this event is the primary suspect being hunted. But when the crowd thins and the team searches where is the man and the backpack is nowhere in site. But, Michael is relentless and reports to Mei what he thinks he saw and he spends hours looking through online photos and thinks he has spotted in one of them the bomber. Rather than present what he knows to the police, he creates a tweet with the name and picture of the man and then sends it out to the public and to this activist too. The man is question is Khan Rashid who is friends with a radicalized man named Malik Moon who seems to be missing and whom Khan was searching for. The hunt is on and because he is a Muslim presumed guilty and the end result brings vigilante justice, more lives lost and a man’s hope for freedom vanished. But, Stride and his team are not sure if he is the real bomber and if someone else is behind it all but Khan is missing, his wife and son have been hidden by someone close to Stride in the Muslim world but the events escalade and the end result is tragic. What happens when the pieces fall apart and someone uses the first amendment to rile up the public, get noticed and abuses the power to speak out in order to make people focus on the Muslim community that she thinks deserves punishment. Why can’t she be stopped? This is a powerful novel that will alert readers to what happens when we stereotype people, discrimination due to race, nationality or religious believes and prejudice of the worst kind. What happens when you assume someone is guilty, when someone close to you is killed in this incident and you take matters into your own hands killing an innocent wife and child?
Events spiral out of control as this Dawn speaks out in ways that will cause more violence, takes photos of the Muslim Student Center, deals with Haq who is close to Khan and was helping Stride with his investigation and pictures of an art gallery and bakery all owned by Muslims. Speaking out and stating that she can do as she pleases, say what she wants and hopes that people will side with her and ignite the cause even if more people are killed. What happens when a given constitutional right is abused and used not to protect the public, not to inform them of anything but to make sure you profit from the hurt of others and ruin a quiet community of people that are innocent? Added in we have Cat who is friends with a pimp and drug dealer bootleg liquor distributor, who help she enlists at Serena’s request to find a man known as Eagle, a homeless man who was scene in the Duluth Company Store, had some kind of physical attack and then disappeared. Did he cause this distraction for a reason? Where is the backpack that Khan was supposed to have? Why does Travis Parker take it out on Khan and his family not knowing if he is the one responsible for the death of his friend’s wife and his sister’s loss of her legs? Guilt by religion, race or creed! Terrorism in a different form!
Khan and Malik devise a plan that hopefully will allow Khan to maintain his freedom but he hesitates, does not want to live and thinks about turning himself in to the police. Doubt strikes many people as Stride is not sure that he is the man who is the bomber yet a young police officer was killed and he is being blamed for it but was it his bullet that hit this officer and ended his life? While thinking it over Mei and Guppo go to the Marathon headquarters and look at the tapes finding something interesting that might shed some light on who killed Khan’s family. There are many threads in this powerful and compelling novel as author Brian Freeman sheds light upon the Muslim community, explains why Malik turned his back on the United States, became faithful to Allah, would give up his life for his cause and why Dawn Basch is so powerful creating more danger, more doubt and more hate in an otherwise peaceful community. What will happen next? How long will she spout her lies, deceits and words hoping to take down anyone that is Muslim in her wake? There are many voices heard within the pages of this novel as Serena and Troy, Mei’s boyfriend realize that someone tampered with the tapes did something to the cables and lost the most important information that might have identified the bomber. But, with some many people there the night before the Marathon how can a compiled list of those present help solve the case? As Malik and Rashid follow a plan just who will survive as Stride goes to see Travis’s sister in the hospital realizing that he might be responsible for the death of a child and his mother.
Author Brian Freeman takes us inside the minds of several people each tormented in their own way. Malik who has decided to take matters into his own hands by creating diversions, using tactics to foil the police, FBI and even Khan hoping to find himself in a better place yet will he? Haq enters again telling Stride that Khan is innocent but will it be too late to safe him from what he’s about to do? Losing it all he feels this actions will not repair his losses but will prevent others at least in his mind. Durkin who realizes the truth behind an officer’s death deals with her own turmoil and Stride who remembers an old case and feels he failed does not want to fail again. Cat still deciding about the child she gave up does she want to have a part in his life? The ending is emotionally charged as more lives are at stake and more than one killer is loose. Who was behind the Marathon deaths you won’t believe the shocking reveal at the end and why? Was this an act of terrorism or was it something else? The players are in place: Stride, Serena, Mei, Maloney the head of the FBI task force handling this case, Durkin, Khan, Dawn and Malik: Who lives: Who dies: Who will race in the next Marathon?