The latest thriller in Julie Kramer’s bestselling crime fiction series, featuring the smart, funny, and compulsively entertaining television reporter, Riley Spartz.
An insular Amish town . . . A secret that won’t stay buried . . .
Minneapolis’s star investigative reporter Riley Spartz is constantly in search of her next TV sweeps piece. When she hears that a young boy is trapped at the bottom of a sinkhole, she smells ratings. Little does she know just how big the story will be—not only does it involve a tragic murder, but the local Amish community as well. Once Riley is on the case, though, she sees that solving it will be anything but easy.
When Riley finds a clue the cops have missed, she uncovers a dark web of fraud and deception in the community—driven by motives as old as the Bible: sex and money. Riley will stop at nothing to bring the killer to justice, and she is determined to do so before anyone—including herself—becomes the next target.
About the Author
Julie Kramer writes thrillers set in the desperate world of television news. Her debut Stalking Susan, won the Minnesota Book Award and the RT Reviewers Choice Award for Best First Mystery. Her second book, Missing Mark, was nominated for the Daphne du Maurier Award for excellence in mystery/suspense. Library Journal described her third book, Silencing Sam, as her best yet in a starred review. Kramer lives with her family in White Bear Lake, MN.
Bernadette Dunne has been narrating since 1997. She has been twice nominated for The Audie Award and has won six Golden Earphones awards. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and The Studio Theatre in Washington, DC. She has appeared at The Kennedy Center, The Washington Shakespeare Company, and Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC. As a playwright, her work has been produced in New York, Seattle and Washington, DC. She lives in Brooklyn.
Read an Excerpt
What do you smell, Bowser?”
Josh Kueppers, wearing a neon orange stocking hat and carrying a shotgun, chased after his dog.
His voice sounded hopeful as he dreamed of returning home with such a trophy. He’d watched the news the night before and seen reports of a black bear sighting in southeastern Minnesota. So while unusual, his goal wasn’t impossible. At least, that’s what he told himself during the pursuit.
The school bus had dropped the ten-year-old off outside his family’s farmhouse. As he dumped the mail on the kitchen table, he found a note from his mother that said she’d been called to work an evening nursing shift.
She instructed him to bike over to an older friend’s place down the road, spend the night, and go to school with him the next morning. Josh smiled at the prospect of fun.
But his mother’s absence also presented another opportunity. For a hunt. So he threw on his camouflage jacket and was out the door.
Josh and Bowser, a tan mixed breed, ran through a lightly snow-covered farm field. The corn had been harvested, but not yet plowed under. An early cold spell had hit just as the calendar touched October. He stumbled a couple of times before reaching a line of trees growing in a depression in the ground.
His dog bayed, just like a real hunting hound.
Josh’s eyes grew wide.
He held the gun steady, finger on trigger, as he glanced around to see what had attracted the animal’s attention. He didn’t want to be ambushed, although theirs did seem to be the only tracks, so he figured they were safe. He looked upward hoping to face off with a raccoon in the branches … but they were empty. No masked opponents.
He didn’t have enough experience to realize that broad daylight was less conducive to hunting wildlife than dawn or dusk. Bowser barked some more and Josh noticed a hole in the earth that looked curious. He hoped for a bear den. He moved closer, his eyes cautiously scanning back and forth for trouble, when the ground beneath him collapsed.
Josh tumbled downward amid a cascade of dirt and snow. Gradually, through a reassuring gap of sunshine, he became aware of his dog still above, sounding an agitated alarm that he feared would go unheard by anyone else.
Something smelled awful, and as his eyes adjusted to the blackness he realized he was not alone in the bottom of the pit. Fumbling for his gun, he aimed the weapon toward the sky and pulled the trigger in a calculated call for help.
Then he realized the safety was on, and tried again.
Almost immediately, he wished he hadn’t.
Instead of alerting someone of his whereabouts, the shot caused an avalanche of dirt that buried both Josh and the grisly secret beside him.
What People are Saying About This
"Bernadette Dunne's delivery is precise and deliberate as she navigates the short, choppy chapters, keeping disparate plot threads from becoming entangled." - AudioFile Magazine
"...a ripping good story, with lots of twists and turns, and will not disappoint those who have come to expect a good yarn from Kramer's pen. This is enlightening, entertaining and compelling. Kramer has written another good read..." - The Examiner
"...Kramer's research into the Amish realm is impressive and integrated skillfully into the plot. As always, Kramer is informative about television news, the ways of Minnesota, and the inner life of a widowed professional woman." - StarTribune
"Fast-paced with a sense of humor and a shiver of terror... full of the fascinating details and background without overloading the pacing at all. You get an inside glimpse, sometimes a good hard stare, at the Amish." - The Poisoned Pen
"Remember Witness - that truly thrilling movie with Harrison Ford in his heyday? Shunning Sarah is an even better suspense story filled with horse-driven buggies and folks in black hats." - James Patterson
"Julie Kramer superbly blends two very different worlds - that of television news and the mysterious world of the Amish. Shunning Sarah is a compelling novel chock full of all the elements readers of crime fiction crave. Riley Spartz is a very human heroine - and a force to be reckoned with. You will remember her and this story long after you finish the book - and anxiously await the next installment." - Linda Castillo
"A stunning entry in this dynamic series with a fascinating glimpse into two worlds unknown to most of us: the Amish and the behind-the-scenes truth about local TV news. Talk about a culture clash!" - Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling author
"Addictive...A captivating heroine you'll root for and a shocking ending you won't see coming, Shunning Sarah delivers with a satisfying punch." - Alex Kava, New York Times bestselling author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Keeps your attention to the last page. Riley Spartz is a TV reporter who has survived a mass shooting at her station. In addition to the killings of several coworkers, the incident was the death of her engagement to the government agent who killed the shooter. A new station manager has come on board and is pretty much a young bean counter with an eye to the ladies. His brilliant new idea is that the reporters will carry their own cameras and shoot their stories themselves. Riley has become involved in the story of a young boy who fell down a sink hole and discovered a dead body. The body turns out to be a young Amish girl who left the religion and was shunned by her family and community. In addition to the unsolved murder, Riley gets mixed up in a local sheriff’s election, with the family of Sarah, the murdered girl and with Ike the owner of a store that specializes in Amish handcrafts. Nick Garnett, her onetime fiancé reappears but Riley is not sure how she feels about him any longer. As she gets deeper into the back story of the murder, Riley uncovers disturbing information about Sarah’s life that could have consequences for her surviving family members. I have read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them all. Riley is an interesting character. She is not a glamorous TV persona, rather a day to day slogger in a small market trying to survive. She is a widow and has not has the best luck in her romantic adventures. Her age is a factor in her continued employment in a media that celebrates youth. In other words, she is realistic and believable and someone you want to read about. This book continues the series and keeps the reader hooked to the last page and wanting more when it is done.
This book was just okay. Not pursuing more by this author. Too mundane and predictable
I enjoyed the twists and turns in the story and the ups and downs of the main character. This quick read keeps you guessing.
Great thriller occuring in the Amish community...several twists and turns
I've read all of the books by this author, loved each one! Can't wait for the next!
Riley Spartz is an investigative reporter in Minneapolis who knows a good news story, even when her new boss Bryce doesn't. When she gets a tip about a ten year old boy who has fallen into a sink hole in Harmony Minnesota, a rural area that is in the middle of an Amish community, she convinces her boss that it is a newsworthy story. By the time she arrives on the scene though the little boy Josh Kueppers has already been rescued.Undaunted Riley decides to interview the sheriff on the scene, and soon learns that there is another story. A dead body was down in the sinkhole with Josh, a body that might be hard to identify because it is missing its face. Riley is determined to see the case solved, even if it puts her own life in jeopardy. I am a huge fan of Amish fiction and when there is mystery and suspense involved I know I am in for a great read. With "Shunning Sarah" the author spins a story that pulled me in from the beginning. A little boy trapped, I wondered how or if he would be saved, but then the real story begins after he is rescued. A woman's body at the bottom of the sinkhole who turns out to be an 18 year old Amish girl named Sarah Yoder. What happened to Sarah? Well that question kept me turning the pages to find out. As a fan of Amish fiction I admit I was most fascinated by the Amish portion of the story, but there was also an interesting secondary story going on as well that involved the drama of TV news. Ms. Kramer is truly knows how to paint a picture with her words, she brings her scenes, and characters to life, without being overly graphic in her descriptions. Even though this book wasn't the first in the Riley Spartz series I had no problems diving right in. The author provided enough background information so that I didn't feel lost. While Riley was the main character in the story, for me I couldn't get Sarah out of my head, as her story is finally revealed my heart broke for her. Fans of mystery, suspense,and a plot filled with more twists than a winding country road will certainly want to read this one, the Amish twist is an added bonus. On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six, and plan on going back and reading the rest of the series! Highly recommended. A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Struggled to get through this book. I live in the area it was set in, and the references to real places seemed forced and unnecessary. Didn't like the tendancy to summarize conversations rather than providing the actual dialog. Pieces of the lead character's past seemed to come up at odd times without purpose or resolution. There are better books to read.
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