Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review: Stalking Susan

Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer
3.5 stars

Reasons for reading: Minneapolis setting for our annual trip there; Author I've never read for Four Month Challenge

Description: "Riley Spartz is recovering from a heartbreaking, headline-making catastrophe of her own when a Minneapolis police source drops two homicide files in her lap.Both cold cases involve women named Susan strangled on the same day, one year apart. Riley sees a pattern between those murders and others pulled from old death records. As the deadly anniversary approaches, she stages a bold on-air stunt to draw the killer out and uncover a motive that will leave readers breathless."

First line: "So the deal is this - any cop who tickets me for a moving violation gets an 'attaboy' from the chief and a day off duty, off the books."

My thoughts: You can really tell that Kramer has worked as a news producer, all of the backstage jargon is here and I'd be willing to bet that Riley's annoying boss Noreen, who doesn't really understand that actual news reporting is difference from ratings-gathering, is based on one or more people Kramer has worked with. Noreen's exasperating obtuseness and meanness (cushioned a bit, but not much, by her love of animals) provides quite a bit of comic relief.

I'm always a sucker for a book set in Minneapolis and Kramer clearly knows her way around the Twin Cities as well as a newsroom. I liked that Riley's friend and informant, former police detective Garnett is now head of security for the Mall of America (we had just been there the day before I started reading this!). It's actually quite amusing, given that now there's a reality show based entirely on the mall cops of the MOA. Garnett is a steadfast, reliable friend to Riley with a love of old movies and, perhaps, a love for Riley. Riley is too wrapped up in grief and her investigative reporting to notice, however. Riley describes herself as a bitch, but I didn't find her to be one. A bit hard-nosed, maybe, but not unlikeable and committed to finding the truth.

The mystery of the Susans was interesting, it was really hard to tell how they were connected. Once the whodunnit came out it seemed like it should have been obvious but it really hadn't been. Riley's willingness to endanger herself to get to the truth was both brave and foolhardy, but the way she did it was quite clever.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will probably read the next in the series.

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