Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Review: Killer Story Interview with author Matthew Witten

Today I'm so excited to be sharing with you my review of Matt Witten's brand new crime thriller, Killer Story from my favorite Indie mystery publisher, Oceanview, and an author Q&A. 


ISBN-13: 978-1608095247
Publisher: Oceanview Publishing
Release Date: 1-17-2023
Length: 320pp
Source: Author/Publisher for review
Buy It: Amazon/B&N/IndieBound



How far will she go to catch the killer—and make her podcast a hit?

Talented and idealistic young reporter Petra Kovach is on the brink of being laid off from her third failing newspaper in a row. To save her job, she pitches the launch of a true crime podcast about a sensational, unsolved murder.

Years earlier, an alt-right YouTuber was killed in her Harvard dorm room, and the case went cold. Petra knew the victim—she was once her camp counselor and loved her like a little sister, despite their political differences.

Petra’s investigation gets off to a rocky start, as her promising leads quickly shrivel up. In her passionate quest for justice—and clicks—Petra burns sources and breaks laws, ultimately putting her own life on the line. Even as her star rises, she worries it could all come crashing down at any moment if her actions are exposed.

When her machinations start to backfire, there’s only one way to fix everything and solve the murder—even though it may cost her everything she loves.

My Review:

Matt Witten’s new novel, Killer Story, is a timely crime chiller about a newspaper reporter who in an attempt to save her job reopens a cold case murder investigation and in the process turns from idealistic journalist to resorting to unethical and at times barely legal ways to tell her story making the novel engaging and one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end.  Matt gives readers a tight nail-biting plot and flowing narrative, plus his use of podcasting in his storyline gives the novel a modern feel making the characters seem more authentic. And of course the murder of a young radical is always a hot topic for thriller lovers. Of the eclectic stable of quality characters Petra is definitely the star, unfortunately it’s not always for the right reason as she falls down the rabbit hole of deception and deceit convincing herself the end justifies the means and leaving readers to wonder if she will or even want to redeem herself. The other stand out characters are her boyfriend Jonah who at times acts as her conscience, and her co-worker/nemesis Natalie. Killer Story will stay with readers long after “The End” and is perfect for fans of Hank Phillipi Ryan, JT Ellison and Harlen Coben.

No one knows better than Petra Kovach how hard it is in this day and age to be a successful newspaper reporter and when she discovers she’s about to be fired from yet another job she comes up with a way to convince her editor to keep her, which involves reopening a murder case that’s gone cold that she may just have new evidence about.

Petra’s been obsessed with the two-year-old cold case murder of Olivia Anderson, a right winged podcaster and Harvard freshman, someone Petra had known very well and was still a mentor to even though Olivia became so radicalized. Petra and Olivia met at a journalist boot camp when Petra was a senior at UCLA and Olivia was fourteen. The girls shared many ideals and as it turned out many tragic life events and soon were sharing secrets, hopes and became as close as sisters. But when Olivia became a right-winged conspiracy theorist Petra wondered what happened to the idealistic young girl she once knew. So when Petra runs into Olivia’s older brother Eric and he confesses to know “unknown” secrets about Olivia’s murder Petra knows she’s got the perfect ammunition to save her job.

Q&A with Matt Witten:

Matt hi! Welcome to The Reading Frenzy.
Tell my readers a bit about your brand-new release, Killer Story.

Killer Story addresses the moral and financial battles that journalists fight these days, in a world where getting clicks can be more important than getting the truth. The bestselling author and Emmy-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan calls Killer Story "riveting and irresistible--a deep dive into journalists' tactics, ambition, and cut-throat passion." Here’s a quick synopsis:

How far will she go to catch the killer – and make her podcast a hit? Young journalist Petra Kovach launches a true-crime podcast to investigate the murder of an alt-right YouTuber she loved like a little sister, despite their political differences. Petra’s passionate quest for justice rockets her to the top of the podcasting charts, but her just-barely-legal tactics backfire and she loses everything: her job, her love, and her reputation. Now she must fight to get her life back – and catch the killer.

I’d also like to mention that the audiobook is really good. The narrator, the actor/writer Harley Jane Kozak, is terrific. Harley is in my writers group, and whenever I brought in a chapter of Killer Story I asked Harley to read it. So she knows the main character very well! And by listening to her, I got to know the character better myself.

And other other thing: for the very first week, from January 17 – 23, Killer Story is featured on BookBub’s “New Releases for Less,” which means it’s only $2.99 on Kindle.

While reading your bio I was surprised that you didn’t have a journalist background, your novel stars a journalist whose authenticity is very convincing.
Is she based on someone in particular, or strictly from your imagination?

Thank you, I’m glad the main character, Petra Kovach, feels authentic! I’ve been very gratified by the positive responses the novel has gotten from journalists and true-crime podcasters. To make sure I got the journalism story accurate, I gave the first draft to a couple of journalist friends and also consulted with them during the writing. Also, some of the issues Petra faces are similar to the issues that novelists like myself face. Journalists are storytellers too. Petra is a composite of a couple of young journalists I know and also a young woman who’s a family friend and is a first-generation immigrant like Petra.

Your bio also says that you love true crime podcasts which is obvious from your storyline.
Why do you think they’re so popular?

I think they’re popular for the same reason that mystery novels and true-crime books are popular. We love art that explores our darker natures and deepest fears… and we also like to see good triumph in the end.

I can see how Killer Story could be a love letter to young journalists, and a cautionary tale as well.
Why did you choose Newspaper reporter for Petra’s career?

Petra is inspired by all the men and women I know in their twenties who are fiercely dedicated to going into journalism despite the huge obstacles they face. Journalism is such a rapidly changing field, with newspapers dying, internet news sites unable to find workable economic models, and decent paying jobs increasingly hard to get. These aspiring young journalists have a sense of mission that I admire. Their passion refuses to be denied.


When we first meet Petra she’s once again facing the chopping block (which I imagine is what it must be like to work for any kind of print publication even one that relies on other media like web and podcasts) but she’s still very idealistic, however this changes during the tale and she becomes much more complicated, also making her more interesting.

a. What kind of character was Petra during the writing process, did she behave or did she lead you all over the place?

Petra took me all over the place! I loved writing her, partly because I identify with many of the career issues she faces, having been laid off from writing jobs more than once myself. For me, Petra is a fascinating and complex character because she’s both idealistic and ambitious. As she puts it herself, quoting her young friend who later got murdered, “I want to do good in the world, and also be famous.” As I wrote her, I was intrigued by the sometimes questionable decisions she made, by the ways she deluded herself sometimes, and by her ultimate goodness.

b. Did her age factor into some of her decisions?

Definitely! Petra is 28. I love that age – it’s the age when I began to get my life together. When we’re in our twenties we’re still figuring things out. Well, I guess that’s true when we’re older too, but maybe not as much.

Petra has been going out with a guy for three years, and they become engaged during the course of the novel. When you’re in your late twenties and early thirties and trying to move forward in both your professional and your personal life, it’s challenging!

I read some of the podcaster reviews and my friend Hank Phillipi Ryan’s fantastic review of the novel who would know first hand about journalistic dos, don’ts and what ethical lines can and can’t be crossed.
Are you an author who can’t wait to read reviews or one who dreads them?

Both! I read reviews once a week, so I can thank some of the reviewers and also send links to good reviews to my publisher or spread them on social media. If it’s a two- or three-star review, I read the first fifteen or twenty so I can learn from them and get a sense of what some readers find lacking in the book. After that I don’t read the bad or medium reviews anymore, only the good ones. Like every other writer I know, if I read ten great reviews and one bad one, I tend to only remember the bad one!


Matt thank you for answering my questions good luck with the new novel.

I was very impressed by your website especially the On Writing link and absolutely fell in love with your writing process, your thoughts about writing in different genres and especially your thoughts on stories in general how some make better novels, some plays and others either on the small or large screen. And was so amazed by your accomplishments so far and your future endeavors sound exciting. And can say I will be watching for your next novel and the Hallmark Mystery Movie you’re writing.

Thanks so much! I enjoyed answering your questions. They were different from the ones I usually get so that made it fun.


“I devoured Killer Story! I was gripped by journalist Petra Kovach's passionate mission to discover the truth behind her young friend’s murder. An absorbing, twisty thriller you'll want to read in one sitting.” —Alice Hunter, best-selling author

“A slick, smart crime thriller for the internet age! As true crime podcasters, we couldn’t put down this dive into the exciting, seedy, and sometimes dangerous world of an infamous unsolved mystery! Killer Story reads like something out of a crime journalist’s fever dream—and it’s a must read for anyone who’s ever become obsessed with a case!” —The Murder Sheet Podcast

About the author:

Matt Witten is a TV writer, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. His television writing includes such shows as House, Pretty Little Liars, and Law & Order. His TV scripts have been nominated for an Emmy and two Edgars, and he has written four mystery novels, winning a Malice Domestic award for best debut novel. He has also written stage plays that have been produced throughout the world.

His previous novel, The Necklace, has been optioned for film by Appian Way and Cartel Pictures, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producer. Killer Story is his most recent novel.



  1. Sounds like a well-layered story with Petra's choices and the mystery both being the story. Glad to read the interview and get more background on author and story.

    1. it was really good Sophia Rose and yes layered is a good description of it

  2. It sounds like Petra made some questionable decisions.

  3. Interesting interview. Petra sounds like a good character and I do wonder what happened to her friend

  4. Sounds like a riveting thriller. Thanks for sharing the interview. I appreciate getting the back story.

  5. Sounds like the perfect read for the crime fiction reader Debbie. Great review.