Julie Kramer has given us lots of thrills and suspense in the first three installments of her bestselling series about TV reporter Riley Spartz. Now you’ll be glad to know that Riley is back and chasing a serial killer in Kramer’s latest mystery, Killing Kate.
In this one, Riley learns that the killer is drawing angel-shaped chalk outlines around the bodies of his victims and that leads her through many twists and turns to an eerie legend from almost a hundred years ago.
Reading a good series character is like hanging out with an old friend, and I’m sure for many of us, that is what Riley Spartz is. As her author points out, Riley is a strong-willed woman driven by the needs of a very interesting job.
“She wants to nail exclusives and win ratings,” Kramer admits. “No doubt you would love to hang out with her, but am not sure she’d have time. So much of her life is devoted to her job and co-workers.”
Being a TV news producer herself, Kramer knows that Riley must work long unpredictable hours and that she doesn’t have much free time for entertainment or outside friendships. But that’s the kind of dedication that would lead her to the connection between a string of murders and a famous monument and the man who may think the statue is ordering him to kill.
Part of the appeal of this novel is that the story is told, in part, from the killer’s point of view. The previous books have been written in first person, seen through Riley’s eyes, which added to their appeal.
“Fans tell me they savor going into the mind of my heroine and learning how newsrooms make decisions during chaos,” Kramer says. “For Killing Kate I wanted to shake things up by taking readers inside the mind of the antagonist – in this case a serial killer.”
To get into the right mindset, Kramer says she relied on research from both killers and cops. The POV switching is just one element that keeps the reader glued to this book. Kramer is a master at keeping fans turning those pages.
As Kramer says, “The best way to keep a reader turning pages is to make them curious – even anxious – to see what happens next with surprise and subplots.”
Kramer manages this with short chapters and some pretty clever plot twists, And while that main mystery cranks on the tension, Kramer also gives readers a strong sense of a reporter’s working routine, This is just one way her real life experiences enrich the novel.
“As a career television news producer I’d often complain about how much easier my work would be if I didn’t have to stick with the facts,” Kramer says. “But when I tried writing fiction, I found myself craving facts because making stuff up felt like cheating. Once I worked through that issue, I found my news skills to be an excellent foundation for fiction. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, most on the best or worst days of their lives, and I think that’s helped me develop an ear for dialogue.”
Despite the strong dose of reality in this series, even Kramer will tell you that Riley Spartz is more Superman than Lois Lane. She’s truly a strong hero, and never plays the damsel in distress. And this time she’s facing a villain fully her equal, her own Lex Luthor. I suspect that’s one reason that Romantic Times Book Reviews called this the best book yet in the Riley Spartz series, and also the darkest. Kramer admits that Killing Kate IS a little scarier than her other books.
“There were times I was even scared writing it,” Kramer says. “Instead of having readers guess the identity of the killer, I unveil the killer’s identity early on. That meant instead of playing Who Done It with Riley, readers are warning her Look Out!”
That surely prompted The Library Journal to say, “Best-selling author Kramer surpasses her previous three Riley Spartz titles with this feverishly suspenseful, nail-biting thriller with a gutsy heroine.” This great read full of superstition and shrouded in mysterious myths is perfect for a hot summer night, and will leave you hungry for the next Riley Spartz mystery.
Investigative television journalist Julie Kramer writes a series of thrillers: STALKING SUSAN, MISSING MARK, SILENCING SAM, and KILLING KATE—set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best First Mystery as well as the Minnesota Book Award. Her work has also been nominated for the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark, and Daphne du Maurier Awards. She formerly ran the I TEAM for WCCO-TV before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS.
To learn more about Julie, please visit her website.