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Stalked    by Brian Freeman order for
by Brian Freeman
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2007)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

As a writer gaining a justified reputation for producing tough, psychologically gripping page-turners (i.e., Immoral and Stripped), Brian Freeman entertains and disturbs readers with Stalked, another sizzling tale overflowing with blackmail, dark secrets, revenge, and murder.

Once the prologue is out of the way (during which a convicted prisoner escapes from custody in Alabama), the action moves on to Duluth, Minnesota, where police officer Maggie Bei is about to make a gruesome discovery. Her husband has been murdered with a single gunshot to the forehead, and the murder weapon is Maggie's own gun. When confronted by the police, Maggie seems to be withholding important information about her relationship with her husband, and the police department - with the cynical Abel Teitscher leading the investigation - is pointing fingers at Maggie as the most likely suspect.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Jonathan Stride, Maggie's on-the-job partner of ten years (and the man she has not-so-secretly loved for nearly that long), is officially off the case (because of a potential conflict of interest), but that will not stop Stride and his live-in partner Serena Dial (a former police officer and currently a private investigator) from doing everything possible to exonerate the disturbingly secretive Maggie.

At the same time, Serena has been hired by Dan Erickson, the county's lead prosecuting attorney, and she has been given the unpleasant (and somewhat shadowy) chore of discreetly delivering $10,000 in hush-money to someone who is blackmailing Erickson.

Soon, though, in another plot-line that seems at first oddly out of balance with what has already transpired in Stalked, someone dangerously obsessed is stalking a select group of people. On that list, is Tanjy Powell, a woman, now mysteriously missing, who had worked at Dan Erickson's wife's upscale boutique; an upwardly mobile investment planner who had at one time been Tanjy's lover; a few women known initially only as the alpha girls; the county prosecutor, Dan Erickson; and - most surprising - Serena Dial.

As the plot-lines converge and as the tension mounts, Stride and Serena must confront a sordid world of sex, violence, deceit, secrets, and murder. Paradoxically, both separately and together, they will eventually find themselves staring 'into the maw of the devil' before Stalked reaches its high-octane, pulse-pounding climax. Grim, gritty, and explosive, Stalked is a not-for-the-weak-of-heart psychological thriller for readers who relish a sordid tale of sexual madness, pernicious secrets, and lethal obsessions.

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