Review

Stalking Susan

by Julie Kramer

Riley Spartz is a television reporter who is still trying to get
over her husband's tragic and heroic death, which happened over a
year ago. She has grief to deal with, but also a lingering sense of
guilt over the circumstances of his demise. However, Riley has
gained a new perspective on the news she covers. At one time, she
considered it to be events that happen to others; having lived
through her own newsworthy role, she now knows how personal it
is.

Nick Garnett, Riley's long-time police source, is retiring from
the force to work as a security guard for the enormous Mall of
America. Garnett knows that Riley needs a meaty project to distract
her, so he hands her a doozy: two cold case murders, each involving
a woman named Susan. The Susans were killed on the same day,
November 19th --- one in 1991 and the other in 1992.

Riley is immediately obsessed with the case and is determined to
find the murderer, even after Garnett warns her that he believes
the unknown suspect could be a cop. She charts the case on white
boards in her office and persuades Xiong, the station's computer
expert, to search for more Susans with suspicious deaths on
November 19th of any year.

Since the computer search will take a while, Riley proceeds to
interviews of the family and friends of the two murdered women,
videotaping weeping parents in the hope that she can persuade the
news producer, Noreen, to let her cover the story on the air. She
also consults with Garnett about some aspects of the case,
including the odd fact that the victims were undressed and then
reclothed during the killings.

When Riley speaks to Noreen, she says that a gripping murder
mystery might well help boost their ratings during the
all-important November sweeps, in which the station tries to spike
viewer numbers in order to attract more advertising revenue. Noreen
finally agrees, but she also talks ("blackmails" may be a more apt
term) Riley into investigating a local veterinarian's questionable
practices.

Meanwhile, Riley's computer expert friend, Xiong, turns up a
Susan who died on November 19, 1994. While the official verdict on
her death is suicide, there are coincidences other than name and
date that pique Riley's interest. Xiong also reveals,
significantly, that no other murdered Susans show up on that date.
While Riley prepares to interview the latest possible victim's
family, she begins to uncover a tangled web around the first two
Susans.

Riley meets one victim's husband, Dr. Redding, who points out
that his wife's murderer was convicted and has been serving a
prison term. Dr. Redding is not at all open to the possibility that
the imprisoned man was not the killer, but he hints that his
wife’s college boyfriend, who happens to be the current mayor
of Minneapolis, had a secret side.

Author Julie Kramer is a television news producer, and she gives
Riley's work life an authentic flavor. Although information about
the business of television news broadcasting slows the pace of the
plot at times, the insider facts are eye opening. Riley is a
sympathetic and well-rounded character, and the mystery is a
satisfying ride, with unforeseen twists right up until the
conclusion --- making for an entertaining and enjoyable read.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 23, 2011

Stalking Susan
by Julie Kramer

  • Publication Date: June 23, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor
  • ISBN-10: 0307388514
  • ISBN-13: 9780307388513