Monday, January 5, 2009

Stalking Susan is a good first effort

Julie Kramer is a new author and I think she has some great potential. Her debut novel “Stalking Susan” gave us a new sleuth in the form of Riley Spartz. Riley is a TV news reporter. This kind of job seems perfect for the thriller genre and it seems odd to me that it hasn’t been used in the past. Her concept is great but I think she needs to tighten up the story for it to be a true thriller.
Ms. Kramer writes what she knows since she is a freelance news producer for NBC programs like Dateline, the Nightly News and the Today Show. I have said before I don’t read for educational purposes but I do enjoy learning new things when I read and I learned a lot of little tidbits and behind the scene tricks of the tv news biz in this fast reading novel.
The story revolves around a cold case her long time friend and retiring detective Garnett has been working alone. Garnett has been following this case for 10 years and now that he is retiring he is passing on what he has accumulated to Riley hoping it will inspire her to get back in the investigative saddle and bring about the solution to the decade old crimes. Garnett believes a serial killer at work. The case involves the murder of 2 women; both named Susan, both killed on the same day in November. Riley is a successful news reporter who has been out of commission for a year mourning the death of her husband.
Red herrings abound in this novel which becomes a bit silly at times. Midway through the novel it is as though Riley sees suspects in everyone including the guy who brought her the story in the first place. I wondered if somehow she would actually connect these crimes with the one that killed her cop husband a year earlier. It felt like the story got out of control and Ms. Kramer wasn’t sure where to go with it. I felt like she had this great story and had so much to put into it but worried about being too wordy so she skimmed across everything. I never felt like we got to the meat of the story. The sub-plot of the TV newsroom and the cutthroat world of getting your story on air were really more entertaining than the mystery itself.
I will definitely read the next book with the hope that Ms. Kramer got all the tangents out and settles into a tighter story.

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