Despite an interesting and provocative premise and lots of carefully researched “local interest” news stories, Kramer’s latest Riley Spartz adventure falls a bit short. The various subplots feel contrived and they don’t dovetail as well as they have in her previous books. Additionally, too much of the dialogue is told, not spoken, which stops the action and removes the reader from the characters. Still, the descriptions of newsroom politics and life in an insular community, as well as Riley’s never-say-die pursuit of the next big story, are spot-on and fun to follow, as always.

Minneapolis news reporter Riley thinks she’s going to report on a basic boy-in-a-sinkhole story near her parents’ farm in rural Minnesota, but it turns into a lot more. A woman’s body was also in that sinkhole, and after a forensic artist renders her face for ID posters, she’s identified as a young Amish woman, Sarah Yoder. But no one in the Amish community has reported her missing and her family objects to her image being displayed. Riley stumbles across a clue the local sheriff missed, and this leads her into danger and deception. Meanwhile, her new boss at the TV station is making demands on her and her former fiancé seems to want to get back together again. (EMILY BESTLER/ATRIA, Aug., 307 pp., $23.99)

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Reviewed by: 
Liz French