One of the many things that impresses me about Michael Connelly is that he manages to bring drama and suspense to Los Angeles, where the sun is always shining. You’d think that the criminals would simply put down their guns and say, “Wow, what a gorgeous day. Let’s go to the beach.”

My own criminals (and heroes) have to slog through truly awful weather. I wrote about so much snow and ice in my early books that Minnesota readers began urging me to write a summer book to talk about some of our good weather. I did—but then I electrocuted one of my characters during a summer lightning storm. When I went to Florida in Season of Fear, it was in the midst of a hurricane. San Francisco in The Night Bird? Rain and fog.

There’s a midnight chase scene through a cemetery in my new thriller, Marathon. Sure, it could be a beautiful starry night, but where’s the fun in that? No, it’s pouring rain, and the thunder is booming. Good weather to stay inside and read.

Okay, if you’re not from northern Minnesota, I realize that you don’t have a clue what Sammy’s Pizza is. Trust me, you’re missing out. It’s the best thin-crust pizza in the world, and they cut it in little bite-sized squares. No triangles here. Stride has eaten at Sammy’s so many times in my books that readers have begun to ask me whether I get free pizza when I go there. (I don’t, but Sammy’s owners—take note.)

Even the other characters in the books now joke about Stride’s fondness for Sammy’s. So of course, in Marathon, I had to change things up a bit. Stride actually eats at a different restaurant—Thirsty Pagan pizza in Superior Wisconsin—and uses that rare event to point out that he is indeed capable of change and personal growth. (Yes, Thirsty Pagan is great, too. See, you really need to take a trip to northern Minnesota.)

In my third Jonathan Stride novel, Stalked, a concert by Aerosmith becomes an important clue in

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solving the mystery. One of my fans wrote to say thanks for combining two of her favorite things: a Brian Freeman novel and Aerosmith.

Well, since then, Aerosmith has become something of an inside joke in my books. Because Stride is a little bit country, and his partner, Maggie, is a little bit rock and roll, Maggie is always throwing Aerosmith in his face. In The Cold Nowhere, she’s wearing an Aerosmith T-shirt. In Goodbye to the Dead, she’s blasting Aerosmith on the radio of her dented Avalanche. In Marathon, she’s complaining that she can’t listen to Aerosmith because Stride is with her.

The band has even crept over into my non-Stride thrillers. One of the characters in The Bone House has an Aerosmith ring tone. In The Night Bird, Aerosmith is playing on a jukebox in the background of one scene.

The funny thing? I don’t really like Aerosmith myself!

At the end of the narrow peninsula in Duluth known as Park Point, which juts out into Lake Superior, there’s a little green bench by the bay. It’s nothing special. But for Stride fans, it has become a landmark.

Stride goes there at turning points in his life. When he lost his wife, Cindy, to cancer, the first place he went was to the green bench. When he struggled in his relationship with his new partner, Serena, he went to the bench. When he needed to give advice to a teenage runaway, Cat Mateo, he went to the bench.

What I love is that readers now write to me to say that when they visit Duluth, they have to go down to the end of the Point and take a selfie on “Stride’s bench.” I hope the city never thinks about removing it!

There’s something about me and ruined buildings. They show up a lot in my books. Ruins are sort of the architectural equivalent of bad weather for me.

In The Burying Place, a ruined schoolhouse is filled with bodies and rats. In my Stride novella Turn to Stone, the crime at the heart of the story takes place in an old ruined novitiate building in the small town of Shawano, Wisconsin. In Marathon, Cat Mateo breaks into the ruins of an old sanatorium outside Duluth (and makes a gruesome discovery).

Fortunately, there’s no shortage of creepy locales in the northland of Minnesota. If the stonework is covered over with graffiti, if the roof is caving in, if you’re walking through rubble and trash . . . well, I’m there.
Marathon, the newest thriller from Brian Freeman (, will be released on May 2. Brian is the author of 15 novels, including the #1 Amazon bestseller The Night Bird and the stand-alone Spilled Blood, which won the award for Best Hardcover Novel in the ITW Thriller Awards.