Kramer releases second novel

Published 10:08 am Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Growing up on a farm in rural Minnesota doesn’t exactly foster ideas for high-action crime novels. But a career in TV journalism certainly can, as one bestselling author has discovered.

Adams native and White Bear Lake resident Julie Kramer released her second crime fiction thriller, “Missing Mark,” on July 14.

“Missing Mark” is the sequel to “Stalking Susan,” a national bestseller that has received widespread acclaim and garnered several awards, including the Minnesota Book Award for Genre Fiction and Best First Mystery at the RT Reviewers Choice Awards.

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Kramer grew up on a farm near the Minnesota-Iowa border and graduated from Southland High School in 1977.

One of her fondest childhood memories is waiting for the bookmobile to come from the Austin Public Library, bringing her another one of Phyllis A. Whitney’s mystery novels.

One key to the author’s success came through her “hard-knock life” on the family cattle farm.

“I worked hard at whatever I did,” Kramer said.

Working hard is important, she said, “whether you’re farming or covering news or writing a book.”

Mike Cotter, a local storyteller and close friend of Kramer’s father, speaks highly of Kramer’s novels.

“Her role as an investigative TV reporter put her in a special position that most other writers won’t have,” he said. “There is always this intrigue.”

Kramer now works as a freelance news producer for NBC’s “Today Show,” “Nightly News” and “Dateline.” Prior to that she was a national award-winning investigative producer for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.

“Missing Mark,” published by Doubleday, is the story of TV reporter Riley Spartz who finds a want ad reading “Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn,” and plunges into a dangerous missing-person case. A murder investigation, tangles with a meth cartel and a dusting of romance follow.

Much of the plot work behind Kramer’s book was inspired by her own experience as a journalist.

“In real life, I’ve covered numerous missing people, including some of the most high profile cases in the country,” Kramer wrote in an online interview. “I wanted to give readers a provocative look at how newsrooms decide which missing people get publicity and which don’t.”

She also wanted to establish a gumptious heroine and give the inside scoop on TV journalism.

“In reading books,” Kramer wrote, “I tired of fictional TV reporters always being portrayed as annoying secondary characters who could be killed off when the plot started dragging. So I wanted to make one in which the TV reporter was the hero.”

Those who live in Kramer’s hometown may catch a reference in “Missing Mark” to a certain person from her childhood.

RT Book Reviews praised Kramer’s newest book: “the author’s background in TV news allows her to give an inside look at this cut-throat business through the eyes of a very likable protagonist. Kramer’s characters, plotting and pace are spot-on in this excellent follow-up to her award-winning first novel in the series.”

Kramer recently received the Minnesota Career-Initiative Grant, an arts grant that will help her promote her career as a writer.

She said that her books sell fairly well in the Midwest, but she plans to expand her base through an upcoming tour to the west coast.

Cotter observed one skill that Kramer has mastered, as far as mystery writing goes: “the last sentence always keeps you going.”

For more information on “Missing Mark” and its author go to