In the Pittsburgh Marathon, 18,000 people from all over the world will participate. Over 9,500 will run the half marathon, 4,000 will run in relays while others plan to run brief stretches. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn't their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment and one man is going to be murdered.
When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows who is going to die for one simple reason. He's going to kill them.
As a professor of Criminology at Three Rivers University, and a former police officer, Dr. Cyprus Keller is an expert in criminal behavior and victimology. However, when one of his female students is murdered and his graduate assistant attempts to kill him, Keller finds himself frantically swinging back and forth between being a suspect and a victim. When the police assign a motive to the crimes that Keller knows cannot be true, he begins to ask questions that somebody out there does not want answered.
In the course of 26.2 miles, Keller recounts how he found himself encircled by a series of killings that have shocked the city, while literally pursuing his prey - the man who was behind it all.
As this thoughtful but stilted novel begins, Claire Symons, a 37-year old photographer, is visiting Paris with her older husband, art historian Adrian Arensberg. While he researches French gardens, she investigates why her long-dead mother, Dolly, once a confident sculptor, sank into depression after a trip to Paris 25 years ago. Convinced that her recent panic attacks derive from this mystery, Claire interrogates the aging socialist comrades of her mother's youth. Her journey takes her to interesting places, including a hammam (Turkish bath) and the country estate of an elderly countess. It also brings personal and ethical dilemmas, including whether to break an agreement that she and Adrian not have children, and whether she is entitled to delve into her mother's secrets. A former journalist, Charney (Dobryd) has a good eye for details like the "deer heads and antlers, pheasants, rifles, whips" hung on the walls of the countess's chateau; however, her journalistic telling (as distinguished from showing) inhibits reader identification with Claire and her problems. Equally distancing are numerous odd locutions, clunky plot contrivances and interlarded details from the life of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, about whom Claire reads during her quest and who inspired her mother. Claire appears much too dim for philosophy and the bits of "Rousseau lore" are never convincingly integrated into her story. Like the pebbles, leaves and pieces of dirt collected each day by Dolly's old friend, the Alzheimer's victim Jacques, these tidbits are assembled into "intricate patterns" that communicate only the urge to create.