Occasionally Lisa and I read the same book and will put up a second review. Please see Lisa's more thorough review of Killing Kate here.
Title: Killing Kate
Author: Julie Kramer
Review: Every genre has its sub-categories, and mysteries are no different. The brilliance of Julie Kramer’s books is they successfully bridge the gap between two of my favorites styles. Keeping it all Minnesota, you have the gritty police procedural that can be quite dark (think John Sandford’s Prey books), and you can also have the light and often humorous cozies (Think Joanne Fluke’s Bakery books). Riley Spartz is an imperfect investigator who seems to blunder through life on a wing and a prayer, slowly and congenially unraveling the mysteries that come her way. But at the same time this book isn't all relationships and fun, she is often presented with some pretty bad criminals and a series of terrible crimes; crimes that don’t come with a cookie recipe (but don’t get me wrong, you should never join Hannah Swenson on an investigation if you are on a diet – they are damn good recipes).
Riley finds herself thwarted from the story she wants only to be thrust into the story that needs her. Through a careful piecing together of the clues she is slowly able to put together a story that encompasses far more than she originally bargained for. The scene is set through southern Minnesota and Northern Iowa, including Iowa City landmark The Black Angel. The landmark is so descriptive Lisa has committed us to visiting it on our next trip visiting our parents. Though when pressed she insisted we will not be making out in the moonlight, regardless of the authenticity of the experience.
So if you want a fun mystery with a likable lead character investigating some pretty serious crime then Julie Kramer’s Riley Spartz is definitely for you. The books are well written and quickly paced (Lisa and I received our copy on a Thursday and were both through it by Saturday – and that was with me hiding it from her while at work Friday). One of the best aspects of the books is also what made 24 great, a commitment to story over character. For example, you pretty much knew from the moment Nina shot Teri in season one that no character except for Jack Bauer was safe (and even then I could have seen them killing him off if the plot demanded it). It is that tension that keeps the fun from diluting the mystery in Kramer’s work; Who can we trust? Who can we rely on? Killing Kate will keep you guessing until the end and then keep you anxiously awaiting book 5.
Speaking of book 5 – Tempting Ted, Finding Frank, Watching Wendy?
Where I got the book: The author very kindly sent us an advance copy for review (but Lisa and I also attended her book signing and bought our own hard copy to keep).
Quick Review: 5 stars