Killing Kate

Killing Kate

4.2 12
by Julie Kramer

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Not all angels are divine…

As TV reporter Riley Spartz discovers a serial killer drawing chalk outlines shaped like angels around the bodies of his victims, she unearths an eerie legend dating back nearly a century. Tracking clues to an Iowa cemetery, Riley finds an infamous Black Angel monument that may be connected to the string of homicides throughout


Not all angels are divine…

As TV reporter Riley Spartz discovers a serial killer drawing chalk outlines shaped like angels around the bodies of his victims, she unearths an eerie legend dating back nearly a century. Tracking clues to an Iowa cemetery, Riley finds an infamous Black Angel monument that may be connected to the string of homicides throughout the Midwest. Now she is up against a delusional young man who believes the statue is urging him to kill.

The local police are convinced the killer has left their territory and Riley's boss is convinced viewers are tired of hearing about so much crime, but a personal connection with the latest victim, Kate Warner, makes Riley determined to solve the case.

Riley also gets the scoop on a dog left locked in a hot car. Her pet-loving news director is crazy about this story, but the dog owner goes crazy, too. Is he now stalking Riley? Or has the angel-killer put Channel 3's top investigator on his hit list? Yearning for love and ratings, it's unsure whether Riley will find either before the killer finds her.

When she meets a mysterious stranger, Riley must decide whether he is her guardian angel or an angel of death. The answer doesn't come until a graveyard confrontation where the dead are the only witnesses.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Kramer's so-so fourth novel featuring spunky Minneapolis TV reporter Riley Spartz (after Silencing Sam), Riley helps cover the grisly murder of Kate Warner, the younger sister of a college roommate of Riley's. In a world where stations are forced to degrade long-term news projects into "instant" investigations, and smoothly chitchatting hottie (younger!) anchors usurp experienced (older!) newshounds like Riley, Riley struggles with fallout from a human-interest dog-abuse feature, Kate's secret career as a successful author of erotica, and Channel 3's obsession with Nielsen ratings. In addition, Riley juggles weekend trysts with her long-distance cop beau, Nick Garrett, and pursues a run-of-the-mill psychopath who's targeting her. Kramer, a veteran TV news producer, offers pungent insights into today's TV news and its self-serving minions who'll conveniently bend the truth to keep their jobs, but her tired old plot devices, Styrofoam characters, and predictable romantic angst ("Him for justice; me for news") dwindle into a mélange of unsatisfying news bytes. (July)
From the Publisher
"With her newest book, Julie Kramer's reputation and following ought to soar. This wonderfully sardonic look at murder is not only surprisingly poignant, but a flat-out tour de force of harrowing twists and turns."
—New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger

"Julie Kramer has one of the best new series in crime fictions....You'll be turning the pages all night." —New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline

"Snappy repartee, tauntingly written, drum tight in its execution."
—New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry

"Julie Kramer's Killing Kate offers everything a novel should—a most engaging protagonist, page-turning thrills, plot twists, and a host of characters that jump off the page. I loved it!"
—New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham

“Kramer tells the tale from both Riley's and the killer's points of view, and this strategy . . . keeps the pages turning. . . . Kramer gives readers a strong sense of a reporter's daily routine, drawing in details of other news stories and Riley's personal life to add texture to the novel." - Booklist

"Best-selling author Kramer surpasses her previous three Riley Spartz titles with this feverishly suspenseful, nail-biting thriller with a gutsy heroine." - Library Journal

“The fourth Riley Spartz mystery by Minnesota author Julie Kramer is her best yet...The writing is so crisp, it will keep readers turning the pages. TV reporter-investigative journalist Spartz is at her feistiest, the dialogue is at its sharpest and the main plot is chillingly suspenseful. There's plenty of action and a jaw-dropping penultimate scene that sets up the potential for another book in the series.” —Associated Press

Library Journal
When Minneapolis TV reporter Riley Spartz (Silencing Sam) covers a local murder, she has no idea how close to home the story will strike. Discovering that she knows the victim, Riley unwittingly becomes the next prey for a serial killer targeting women across the Midwest. She also becomes immersed in an animal-neglect story that threatens her professionalism and more. When Riley's murder investigation reveals connections to the legendary Black Angel monument in an Iowa cemetery, will it help identify the killer or lead to her own demise? Will the animal-neglect story come back to haunt her? Riley walks a thin line between good reporting and jeopardizing her own life. VERDICT Best-selling author Kramer surpasses her previous three Riley Spartz titles with this feverishly suspenseful, nail-biting thriller with a gutsy heroine. [See Prepub Alert, 12/20/10.]—Mary Todd Chesnut, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Kirkus Reviews

Having survived her role as murder suspect (Silencing Sam,2010, etc.), Minneapolis TV news reporter Riley Spartz auditions for the role of prospective victim.

The faceless killer prowling the Midwest had been concentrating on waitresses until he met Kate Warner, a girl next door with a secret life as a pseudonymous author of erotica. Bashing Kate to death with his favorite weapon, a broken baseball bat, would seem to guarantee wall-to-wall coverage, but not on Channel 3, where news director Noreen Banks is more interested in the heartrending tale of Buddy, a dog who died after being left in an overheated car by Keith Avise, his nasty owner. Or part-owner, since Keith's ex Barbara soon turns up with the papers establishing her joint custody of Buddy, fanning the flames of yesterday's news still further. Meanwhile, Kate's killer, now identified as legal assistant Karl Dolezal, has communed with one of his many dead homicidal relatives ("his family tree became his destiny") and received authorization to target Riley, who mistakes the stalker for her guardian angel when he rescues her from an egg-hurling Keith Avise. There's no real hope that Dolezal's crazy compulsion will doom Riley, but it's nice to see a final scene in which several of her obnoxious colleagues at Channel 3 are mowed down, presumably to clear the way for more congenial replacements.

The mad killer is constantly, and realistically, upstaged by a graver threat from Noreen: "My job is on the line. Which means your job is on the line."

Kramer tells the tale from both Riley's and the killer's points of view, and this strategy...keeps the pages turning... Kramer gives readers a strong sense of a reporter's daily routine, drawing in details of other news stories and Riley's personal life to add texture to the novel.

Product Details

Atria Books
Publication date:
Riley Spartz Series
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


The night began with a teenage dare. She followed reluctantly as he led her by the hand to the shadow of the Black Angel.

A full moon gave them less privacy than she would have liked. Her back now against the horizontal concrete slab, she waited for him to lay his body across hers. Her lips prayed for the encounter to be quick because out of the corner of her eye a raven watched them intently from atop a gravestone.

Unlike most cemetery angels, whose heads and wings lift upward toward heaven, this statue’s face and wings bent downward over the grave it guarded—as if pointing straight to hell. And while angel sculptures are traditionally a golden bronze or white marble, this one’s hue was black. Besides the figure’s sinister posture and color, its stony eyes seemed to stare into hers as if issuing a personal condemnation.

Her feeling of doom was so strong, the girl struggled to move away. But he held her down, pushed her dress up to her waist, and there, at the hem of the Black Angel, they sinned.

The writer paused over the keyboard and reread the scene. Then with a smile, added sensory and sensual details about places the boy was hard and the girl was soft, and how their throaty moans were the only sound of life amid the dark tombstones. A final tweak when the female character closed her eyes tight to shut out the angel’s glare completed the carnal passage.

© 2011 Julie Kramer


Meet the Author

Julie Kramer is a journalist turned novelist. She writes a series of thrillers set in the desperate world of TV news. Julie has won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mainstream Mystery/Suspense, 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 RT Best Amateur Sleuth Awards. She formerly ran WCCO-TV’s investigative unit before becoming a freelance network news producer for NBC and CBS. She lives with her family in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

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Killing Kate 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
tste More than 1 year ago
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).
TessTN More than 1 year ago
Killing Kate is my new favorite in Julie Kramer's Riley Spartz series. I have read all of her fourbooks. The writing is very crisp dialogue that keeps the storyline moving. I like the fact that Kramer doesn't focus a lot in the way of sex and blood and guts scences. The storyline supports the plot. Killing Kate is darker than her other series, and written besides from Riley's point of view we are taken into the killer's mind. It really gets you involved in the story and trying to guess where the killer will make a mistake. I like having my favorite characters back, especially Riley's parents and her paster, Fr. Mountain. There is always some comic relief to bring to the storyline. The mixture of some true happenings in the storyline keeps it very intriuing, sometimes thinking this is all true. This book would be appropiate for high schoolers through adult. We like the Minnesota angle and my daughter and some friends have used Kramer's book for school book reports. This would make a good book club discussion also; do you think we have gardian angels looking after us?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great writer..great book. I absolutely loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jned More than 1 year ago
The fourth Julie Kramer mystery, Killing Kate, is another winner! The story is told in both Riley's and the killer's voice, which makes for a great read. With humor and suspense, this is one I couldn't put down. Riley has become my favorite heroine. I can't wait to see what she will do next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read her first 3 books and this one took it to a different level. She changed up the style to give it a different feel giving us the killers points of view. It also gave a different twist in the end that I didn't see coming. If you liked the other one's you'll really like this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BuzzBland More than 1 year ago
Welcome back Riley Spartz, and the usual cast of characters. Riley is a smart and funny investigative reporter for Channel 3, and she is constantly on the lookout for a story. When the stories find her, it's usually a sign of trouble. We see the world through Riley's eyes, you are right there with her, immersed in the sights and sounds, blood and terror and nail biting scenes, but this book brings Julie Kramer's writing to a whole new level! We experience part of the story through the eyes of a serial killer. It is chilling and intense, and kept the pages turning. The plot twists and turns and when the stories converge and continue it leads to an explosive and jaw dropping ending! Leave your lights on; a serial killer could be the guy next store, or the man you talked to in the grocery line! I sat down for a second read of this breathtaking thriller, as only Julie Kramer can deliver it! This fourth book in the Riley series is another must-read!!
bookhimdanno More than 1 year ago
This is a fast paced book with great pacing, short chapters and memorable characters. Riley is an investigative reporter who is bold and resourceful. Her parents are great, I find myself laughing at their parts in her stories, and I can identify them with other people I know from this area. Her parents are protective and even a bit underhanded at time. I love the fact that she writes about Minnesota and Minnesota nice, even when mixed with murder and Iowa at times. The mystery and murder keep you on your toes wondering whodunit. The small on-going plot weaved into her stories continues, even if it didn't end the way I would have liked it to (actually I doubt if it is over and look forward to more in the next book.) Riley's co-workers are unique individuals that have endearing and not so endearing qualities about them. Her characters feel real and as I read the book I could place many of my friends and acquaintances in their places making the book come to life and more interesting. If you have never read Julie Kramer then start now, you will not be disappointed. Her mysteries are interesting and she uses real places in her stories, place you can visit if you feel so inclined to do. I have to say that I wish she wrote them faster, but then I wouldn't want the quality to drop in the haste. This book is number 4 in the series and it will not disappoint. Go pick it up today.