"Delivering Death’": Midwest mystery full of heart, humor, suspense

Published: January 19 2014 | 7:00 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 2:20 am in
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What do hunting traps, a wealthy prison inmate, a painting of a fish, and an envelope full of 27 human teeth have in common?

All are leads tracked down by investigative television news reporter Riley Spartz, the heroine in Julie Kramer’s mystery “Delivering Death.” When Riley uncovers the connection between her stories she finds herself chasing the biggest — and most dangerous — story of her career.

In addition to being a fast-paced mystery, “Delivering Death” is also the story of working in the cutthroat world of television news. Set in Minneapolis (“the 15th-largest television market in the United States”), Kramer develops wonderful side plots showcasing the tenuous relationships between Riley and her co-workers while firmly grounding all the novel’s events in Minnesota — an added treat for Midwestern readers.

While the crimes are delightfully gruesome, the tone on the novel is adventurous and humorous, as evidenced when Riley brings the teeth to her dentist for inspection:

“Are they human?” I asked….

“Most definitely.” He pointed out several fillings. “But I see that you still have your pearly whites intact, so who are these from? The tooth fairy?”

There are, however, a few moments when Kramer seems to get distracted, including the heavy-handed scenes between Riley and her love interest, a Mall of America security guard, and the inclusion of a number of obvious facts (“Labs have an excellent sense of smell”).

While interludes pull readers away from the main story, Kramer quickly brings us

back to the real questions, namely: Who sent Riley Spartz an envelope full of teeth? And why?

A suspenseful mystery filled with humor and heart, “Delivering Death” proves that some of the best stories take place right here in the Midwest.

READING

  • What: Julie Kramer reads from “Delivering Death”
  • When: 2 p.m. Jan. 26
  • Where: Barnes & Noble, 333 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
  • Cost: Free

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