By Julie Kramer
2011 release from Atria Books
Hard cover, 322 pages
One of the crucial elements of this series is its platform. It’s a platform the author knows well and uses to full effect. Her platform is the reality and atmosphere of a television news operation. In today’s broadcast television business, tension and often frantic pursuit of ratings, rules. Ratings are tied directly to advertisers and what they can be charged for air time. That’s the reality. This is the novel.
Riley Spartz, newshen of a local television station in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, sometimes is a bit of a loose cannon. It drives her bosses up the wall. On the other hand, she seems to get the important stories. Spartz is a veteran reporter, well aware that her skills and experience are being constantly measured against younger, cheaper, upcoming talent. It pushes her to extend herself and sometimes into mortal danger. Author Julie Kramer has a strong background in television new production and she uses that experience to excellent effect. The novel rings with authenticity.
Almost accidentally Riley discovers an odd chalk outline around the body of a dead woman in south Minneapolis. She’s chasing a solution to the murder of a young woman when Riley, against her boss’s wishes, learns of her own personal connection to the dead woman. That connection gives her more incentive to follow the story. Almost as an aside, on a hot day in Minneapolis she comes across a dog locked in a truck in a parking lot. Riley’s instincts kick in and a live feed from a liquor store parking lot sends ripples through the community and incenses the dog’s owner. Between the two stories, Riley has a lot to juggle And then violence flares all around her.
The novel is cleanly and smoothly written, with a powerful forward thrust that grabs the reader and contributes to its page-turning intensity. The characters are multi-dimensional and interesting. One of the author’s strengths is her ability to surprise us while retaining the essential dimensions of the characters. “Killing Kate” is a terrific novel and I’m looking forward to the next in this series.