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Cover image for Stalking Susan
Stalking Susan
First edition.
New York : Doubleday, [2008]
Physical Description:
308 pages ; 25 cm
Number in series:
Inside the desperate world of TV ratings, an investigative reporter discovers that a serial killer is targeting women named Susan and killing one on the same day each year.


Call Number
MYSTERY Kramer, J.

On Order



Inside the desperate world of TV ratings, an investigative reporter discovers that a serial killer is targeting women named Susan and killing one on the same day each year. Television reporter Riley Spartz is recovering from a heartbreaking, headline-making catastrophe of her own when a longtime police source drops two homicide files in her lap in the back of a dark movie theater. Both cold cases involve women named Susan strangled on the same day, one year apart. Last seen alive in one of Minneapolis's poorest neighborhoods, their bodies are each dumped in one of the city's wealthiest areas. Riley senses a pattern between those murders and others pulled from a computer database of old death records. She must broadcast a warning soon, especially to viewers named Susan, because the deadly anniversary is approaching. But not just lives are at stake-- so are careers. November is television sweeps month, and every rating point counts at Channel 3. Riley must go up against a news director who cares more about dead dogs than dead women, a politician who fears negative stories about serial killers will hurt the city's convention business, and the very real possibility that her source knows more about the murders than he is letting on. When Riley suspects the killer has moved personal items from one victim to the next as part of an elaborate ritual, she stages a bold on-air stunt to draw him out and uncovers a motive that will leave readers breathless.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Kramer's impressive debut, a thriller, introduces Riley Spartz, a Twin Cities investigative TV journalist. Riley's favorite source, a former Minneapolis homicide detective, suspects a serial killer is behind two cold murder cases of women named Susan strangled on November 19 one year apart. Still grieving for her late patrolman husband, Riley relishes the distraction of a possible hot story. After discovering that a raincoat links the two victims, one a 26-year-old waitress, the other a teen prostitute, Riley unearths other cases that may fit the pattern, including the apparently solved murder of a former Miss Duluth and the suspicious suicide of a terminally ill woman. Kramer, a freelance television producer, delivers more than another ho-hum remix of a 48 Hours episode thanks to a snappy subplot--Riley's exposure of a bad veterinarian doing scam pet cremations. Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of the appealing Riley, who cares about justice as much as snagging at least a 40 audience share. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

Two cold cases spark a hot story for flailing TV reporter Riley Spartz in this lively and fast-paced debut. Spartz isn't your typical TV newswoman. Although she's as driven and fast-driving as any of her competitors, she's been sidelined by more than ratings. Her Minnesota state trooper husband was killed in the line of duty, a tragedy that has caused Spartz to take time off just when she should be renegotiating her contract. Then a friendly source, an ex-homicide cop, drops a potential story in her lap. It concerns a possible serial killer who has already killed two young women named Susan on the exact same date, one year apart. The problem is, those murders were years ago, and Spartz must dig through databases to see if the killings have continued and if other young women are at risk. The all-important November ratings are coming up, as is the anniversary of the murders, and Spartz must take seriously her contact's hunch--that the killer could be a cop--if she's going to get the story and save some lives. Kramer writes with heart and pizzazz, and her believable heroine makes the well-worn concept feel fresh. Kramer's past as a TV producer lends authority to an entertaining story. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Feisty Minneapolis television reporter Riley Spartz (named for her grandfather) is struggling with grief and guilt after her husband's death. Then ex-cop, friend, and fellow film buff Nick Garnett provides what could be her comeback scoop. Two cold cases reveal that women named Susan were strangled in the same manner on the same date in 1991 and 1992, and Riley suspecting a serial killer and sensing high sweeps ratings starts investigating. Meanwhile, her animal-loving producer assigns her to follow the trail of a veterinarian who proves to be as dangerous as he is disreputable. But it's the Susan story that absorbs Riley, who follows some leads to dead ends before she entices the killer out of hiding. First-novelist Kramer, a TV producer, knows the news biz, although she should temper her use of jargon; burying the lead pops up more than once. But she spins a good story with a gutsy and appealing protagonist and leaves some plot threads dangling for Riley's next adventure. This is a series worth joining at the start.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2008 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Drawing on her experience as a TV news producer, Kramer has crafted an engrossing and suspenseful debut thriller focusing on investigative reporter Riley Spartz and full of memorable characters and convincing insight into broadcast journalism. Bernadette Dunne, whose Audie Award-nominated reading of Elizabeth Cohen's The House on Beartown Road was a Best Audiobook of 2004 (LJ 6/1/04), skillfully captures the story's personalities and emotions while maintaining pace and tension. A compelling and addictive production; highly recommended for public libraries. [Audio clip available through library.booksontape.com; watch the book trailer at www.juliekramerbooks.com/trailer.php; the Doubleday hc was recommended "for all public libraries," LJ 7/08.--Ed.]--Melody A. Moxley, Rowan P.L., Salisbury, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.