Stalking Susan

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“Write what you know.” is a quote I thought was from Stephen King, but is actually from Mark Twain. Basically, write about a subject that you’re interested in, passionate about or something like that. News producer-turned-novelist Julie Kramer wrote a book about a broadcast journalist following a mystery in her debut novel of Stalking Susan. 

Riley Spartz works as a reporter for Channel 3, an affiliate station in the St. Paul, Minnesota area. Bored with her assignments and still coping with the recent death of her husband, that all changes when a source of hers drops a cold case file in her lap. The case involves a serial killer who has murdered women named Susan over the course of several years. Riley works to piece together the cases and find the common link between them.

Since Kramer is herself a news producer, her inside knowledge of the business helped her write Riley as a realistic character. She (Riley) describes working with her photographer, assignment editor, news director and the CEO of the station. Having interned at a news station myself, I could easily visualize the characters. I liked how Kramer took the time to describe the people who are essential to the news business. All viewers usually see are the anchors and reporters, but it takes an army of people to successfully create a television broadcast. Terminology used in the news business is also mentioned.

I would classify the story as a whodunit mystery from the perspective of broadcast journalism. In a way, reporters are like detectives when they investigate stories and get to the bottom of a lead. Riley works to solve the mystery by making profile boards, doing research and so on, similar to a detective. As some who’s obsessed with Law & Order, reading a mystery from the perspective of a civilian was different, although Riley does consult her cop friend for some help.

There is more to the story than the mystery though. Riley is also navigating life as a young widow after the untimely death of her husband. The memories she has sometimes affects her actions. This added depth to her character, and shows that there can be a whole story and person behind the reporter and anchors you see on the television news. Their lives are not flawless.

I recommend this novel to anyone who wants a fresh take on the mystery genre.

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Open Book (Original Poetry by Me)

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I’m an open book

Ask me anything

Tell me anything

I have nothing to hide

If this is going to work out

We should know each other

I’m not going to judge

I have a past

Everyone does

But it’s what makes a person a person

Life is life

Communication is key

That’s why I’m an open book