Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer, book 1 in the Riley Spartz series (Doubleday, 2008), 320 pages
Riley Spartz is still recovering from her husband’s tragic death, but it’s sweeps month, she’s back from leave, and she has to prove herself. With big stories. With ratings. She has a rare investigative reporter gig in television news for Channel 3 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When her long-time police source hands her two homicide files, she senses a connection — and an urgency — as the anniversary nears.
This is Julie Kramer’s debut novel, and it received a lot of hype when it was released a few years ago now. I’d wanted to read them since then, partly because of what I’d heard, partly because of the Minnesota setting, and also — I’ll admit it — because of the excellent cover art. I’m glad I finally took Jen’s Moonlighting for Murder as my excuse to dive into this series, this character.
The mystery in Stalking Susan is fun, and the tension ratchets up nicely. Riley herself, however, was another matter for me. I found her quite dumb, not to the level of quintessential blonde, but in a way that was actually more harmful. There are blondes who happily play dumb because it suits their ends but who are actually intelligent. And there are blondes who are really dumb. And there are blondes who don’t act blonde. (I feel like I can say this because hey, we’re talking about my hair color, here.)
Riley Spartz wasn’t aware of her miscues. And while I’m sure we’ve all been there, she didn’t seem to realize the gravity of the situation she was in. Which, when you actually, intentionally, pursue a serial killer, isn’t very smart. And while I feel for her — she’s been through too much in her years — I didn’t find her sympathetic, on the whole.
I appreciated the setting and the story, and I’m certainly not calling it quits with Riley. I’m looking forward to reading more of this series.
Here’s the trailer for the book:
Rating: 3.5 stars
About the author
Prior to becoming a novelist, Julie Kramer had a career as a freelance news producer for NBC and CBS, as well as running the WCCO-TV I-Team in Minneapolis. She grew up along the Minnesota-Iowa border, fourth generation of a family who raised cattle and farmed corn for 130 years. An avid reader, she tired of fictional TV reporters being portrayed as obnoxious secondary characters who could be killed off whenever the plot started dragging, so her series features reporter Riley Spartz as heroine. Julie lives with her family in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
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