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Alter Ego    by Brian Freeman Amazon.com order for
Alter Ego
by Brian Freeman
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

There are shades of the Me Too movement in Brian Freeman's ninth Jonathan Stride thriller. Alter Ego showcases the dark side of Hollywood royalty. But, unlike the celebrity Goliaths, whose reputations have been recently eviscerated in social media, the powerful villain in this story seems impermeable.

The series star is Detective Jonathan Stride. He and fellow detective Serena Dial have a lovely adopted daughter, Cat, still emotionally scarred by her troubled past. On the job, he's partnered with Maggie Bei. All these usual suspects play their parts once more.

As the story opens, Maggie is called to the scene of a freak accident - the driver of the car is dead, but his gun was recently fired and he used a stolen identity. Is this ghost an assassin for hire? If so, who did he kill? Was his presence related to the very recent disappearance of a local college student?

A film crew is in Duluth, making a movie, The Caged Girl, based on serial killings that Stride investigated a decade earlier. Playing Stride in the film is charismatic superstar Dean Casperson - he and his wife Mo (his high school sweetheart) are beloved for their charitable work. Oddly, one of the film's interns, Haley, has gone missing too.

Who was Haley? She seems to have played many roles. Why was she spying on Dean Casperson? The trail leads Maggie to Florida and involves the star's stunt double, Jungle Jack, who was seen several times with the ghost. As the picture of what happened becomes clear to Stride, he seeks evidence. Cat risks a great deal to provide it.

Of course, with a Freeman thriller, there's more to the story, twists and turns that link back to the past, and those seeking present day vengeance. Don't miss Alter Ego, and if you haven't read Marathon yet, dive into that one too.

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