Missing Mark by Julie Kramer, book 2 in the Riley Spartz series (Doubleday, 2009), 288 pages
A classified ad selling a wedding dress (“Never worn.”) is what sparks Minneapolis TV reporter Riley Spartz in this second Riley Spartz mystery. Upper-crust Madeline Post’s fiance disappeared after the rehearsal dinner, but did he run away or is he the victim of a crime? The plot thickens when Riley realizes just how much of an external mismatch Madeline and her former groom-to-be, Mark Lefevre, are.
I don’t usually try to solve the whodunit myself; I’m generally content being carried along by the story. But in both of these first two Riley Spartz books, I’ve had it figured out way early (again, without trying). Riley tries to be more careful about putting herself in deadly situations this time out (she borrows a guard dog for a few days, for instance) — but her care only extends to her singular, stubborn interpretation of the clues. At least this time she does realize that she’s dealing with desperate people and she *should* be cautious at several points in the narrative.
She’s also willfully ignorant of most technology, which baffles me.
Riley does have some traits that redeem her, at least somewhat. For one: She fights for the place of quality, (more) in-depth journalism in a broadcast environment bent on money and feel-good stories. Still, it’s hard to say if she fights for investigative journalism because it’s better or because it benefits her. For two, well, I have to give her some grace since she’s still struggling with her past, although I think she’s growing some (albeit mostly in the background) in this installment. Maybe part of my ambivalence is more precisely directed at how she has so fully bought in to television news.
This book definitely has some humor, and when I look back on my reading experience, that’s my favorite part.
The book trailer:
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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