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Margaret Coel explores the corruption of love and politics in her taut thriller, The Perfect Suspect published by Berkley's Prime Crime imprint.

Catherine McLeod is the central character, an investigative news reporter who finds herself thrust into the events of a recent homicide, the murder of a venerated politician on the fast-track to the White House. Catherine McLeod must choose between advancing the truth as she uncovers new evidence that can change the course of the investigation, or allowing a scapegoat to take the fall for the true killer by doing nothing at all.

Margaret Coel quickly advances the action; from the first pages we are thrust into the mind of a conflicted killer caught between love and betrayal as she shoots David Mathews, the sophisticated politician expected to take the governor's seat in the state of Colorado. Coel creates a portrait of corruption both internal and external - love spoiled and tainted, the flawless politician whose spotless image is thin cover for his adulterous affairs, and the killer herself, Detective Ryan Beckman, put in charge of the homicide investigation when her job is to protect and to serve. Catherine McLeod is one of the few characters who holds firm against this moral decay. She insists upon pursuing evidence on the strength of an anonymous phone call that implicates Detective Ryan Beckman as the killer.

The action unfolds as the murder expands into a spiral of circumstances - Beckman uses all the resources of her occupation she can muster to silence potential witnesses, while McLeod proves equally tenacious, unable to stand by and watch as Sydney Mathews, David's wife, takes the heat of the investigation and is charged with murder. The key to bringing Beckman to justice revolves around the anonymous caller, and it becomes a race between them as each struggles to reach the witness first - McLeod becoming Beckman's target in the process.

Margaret Coel provides the action in swift succession, allowing the reader insights into characters and their motivations in a slow unfolding, seeing the crime and its after effects from multiple angles. Fast-paced, any crime lover will no doubt enjoy this latest installment in Coel's recurring character of Catherine McLeod.

reviewed by Shroud's Martin Rose
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on September 23, 2011
The plot was predictable, the characters were grim and flat, and there was no redemption in this tale. Where's the Margaret Coel I used to enjoy reading? OK, maybe she's tired of writing about a priest and an Arapaho lawyer, but this had no depth. I kept hoping for a three-legged dog or anything else to lighten it up even just a little.

The most disappointing aspect was watching the characters blunder into a figurative train wreck, but be so oblivious that they didn't catch themselves. Why assume that a witness will survive the night, when his life is clearly in danger? Why plan to meet him the next day? That required abject density on the part of Catherine McLeod, but plodded along anyway.
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on October 3, 2011
Margaret Coel is well known for her Wind River mystery series (now numbering 15 titles), which take place on the real Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming, and feature sleuths Vicky Holden and Father John O'Malley.

The Perfect Suspect, however, is part of a completely different series featuring journalist Catherine McLeod, which takes place in Denver.

The story begins with Denver police detective Ryan Beckman facing off with her lover, David Mathews. They've been having an affair, we learn, which David has broken off. Ryan has gone to his home to ask him to reconsider. He refuses, and Ryan shoots him.

We learn this in the first sentence of the book, so this is not a plot spoiler.

What Beckman doesn't realize until she's leaving Mathews' house is that she's been seen, though she doesn't know by whom. Meanwhile, Catherine McLeod gets an anonymous phone call at the newspaper office naming the detective as the killer.

Knowing the identity of the killer at the beginning of the book doesn't make this book any less suspenseful or enjoyable. The plot becomes an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse between journalist and detective.

Of course, since it's a Catherine McLeod mystery, we must assume that Catherine wins the game. But we don't know for sure until the end of the book if Catherine succeeds in proving that Beckman is the killer. Nor do we know whether or not Beckman gets away with her crime.

This gripping mystery keeps the reader guessing all the way through, and the answer is not revealed until the very end. Catherine is a wonderful character, and it's to be hoped that there will be more books about her!
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VINE VOICEon September 10, 2011
David Mathews is a candidate running for Governor in Colorado. Journalist Catherine McLeod has been covering his campaign for some time. There are rumors of Mathews infidelities and shady business deals, but nothing has been proven. He and his wife seem to be the perfect couple.

One night Mathews is home alone and opens his front door to find his ex mistress Detective Ryan Beckman there. She insists on coming into his home and tries to convince Mathews the two can work things out.
When he asks her to leave, she shoots him dead. As Ryan leaves the crime scene, another one of Mathews mistresses sees her from outside the house. An eye witness.

Journalist Catherine McLeod is sent to the crime scene the next day to get the scoop. Ironically enough, Detective Ryan Beckman is assigned to the case along with her partner, Martinez.
At this point, Mathews wife is the prime suspect, the murder weapon is even found at her home, planted there by none other than Ryan.

Catherine receives an anonymous phone call from the eye witness/mistress, saying that she saw Detective Ryan Beckman flee the crime scene. She won't give her name or identity, being that she thinks she'll be ridiculed and possibly hauled in for questioning, since she is a private escort. Catherine has a gut feeling that this person is telling the truth and does all she can to prove who the real killer is.

My thoughts:
The Perfect Suspect grabbed me in from the first line and didn't let me go until the final page. I read this book in one sitting and was really swept into the storyline.

I liked to see that Catherine and Nick (Blood Memory) are together and that she is moving on with her life after what happened in book 1.

The storyline in this one was great and the author does a wonderful job at getting the reader inside the minds of these characters. Detective Ryan Beckman is ironically assigned to a murder case for a crime of passion that she herself commited. She is hell bent on framing Mathews wife. She is also being very careful of what information she divulges, since she's been inside Mathews homes and knows her way around. She is very careful while interviewing suspects and friends of Mathews, even coming across one of his interns who saw the two together and knew of the affair.

"Rumors swirled about the candidate-financial improprieties, shady business deals, extramarital affairs. She had never suceeded in running down any of them. They were like a dull throbbing in her head, elusive, maddening and persistent."
p.14, The Perfect Suspect

Catherine is on the prowl, trying to get as much information as she can, risking her life in the process.
There is plenty of suspense in this one, and I was really curious to see how it would all end. All in all, a great read and I do recommend this one to fans of this genre or for anyone looking to get swept up in a great thriller.

Overall, Blood Memory and The Perfect Suspect, are both suspenseful entertaining reads and I do recommend them. Although they are part of a series, they can be read as stand alone books.
Out of these two book, I enjoyed The Perfect Suspect more.
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on September 10, 2014
The second of the Catherine McLeod mysteries featuring the Arapahoe journalist never lets up right to the last page. The nerve racking ending caps off multiple murders making McLeod part of the story she's investigating.
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on January 19, 2013
I like Margaret Coel because it is a who-doneit- that is not usually obvious or if it is obvious, It is not obvious how they get caught. These are the kind of books you can loose yourself in and just enjoy and have some "me" time.
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on September 28, 2011
I am truly disapointed with this second Catherine McLeod mystery. I did note that the first book in this series was not up to par with my beloved Father John O'Malley series, but hoped it would get better in subsequent books. Unfortunately not with this one either. The plot is humdrum and there isn't much tension. We know who the killer is from the beginning so the element of surprise is certainly taken away from us. I could even forgive that if the characters were better drawn. They aren't. Catherine is one-dimensional and the killer is stereotyped. I'm sorry Ms. Coel, but I cannot continue to read this series. It didn't do anything for me. But don't stop with Father John. I love that series very much, and always can't wait for the next installment.
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on August 26, 2012
When David Mathews, the popular candidate expected to win the Colorado governor's seat in an upcoming election, is found murdered, his estranged wife Sydney is arrested. Her husband's many infidelities has provided motive and the fact that the gun used to kill him is discovered at their mountain home gives police all they need to charge Sydney with murder.

Journalist Catherine McLeod is covering the high-profile case for The Denver Journal and receives an anonymous call from a woman claiming she saw the real killer at the scene of the crime, and it wasn't Sydney. In fact, it was Detective Ryan Beckman, one of the DPD's own. (This is not a spoiler...the fact that she killed Mathews as his jilted lover is revealed in the opening paragraphs of the book.) But Catherine cannot just accuse Beckman without evidence and the witness and without either no one in the police department is going to believe her accusation. Thus begins a cat and mouse game of Ryan using her police training to stay a step ahead of Catherine and tamper with the investigation, and both of them trying to find the witness first; one to silence her and the other to keep her alive so she can testify.

I did enjoy this story with the twist of revealing the murderer at the beginning. It's risky to do that in a mystery but the author did a good job of keeping me engaged in the story as Beckman became more desperate and both women got closer to finding the witness.

This book is the latest in the Catherine McLeod series but it is the first I've read. For me it was good as a stand-alone novel as there weren't any gaps in the storyline that required having read the previous titles. Anyone who enjoys "cozy" mysteries will like this one with its substantial plot and good characters.

I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher but the opinion of it is my own and was not solicited, nor was a positive review required.
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on September 8, 2011
David Matthews seems to be a shoe in to become the next governor of Colorado, while he portrays a loving husband with a squeaky clean image that isn't really who he is. Instead he has been carrying on affairs for years and the latest person who he is entangled with is Detective Ryan Beckman, but when he tries to break it off with her, she won't give up and murders him. As luck would have it she is assigned as the chief detective in the murder case and decides that she will frame David's wife. There is only one problem with her plan, someone saw her commit the crime, and they have made an anonymous call to Catherine McLeod an investigative reporter who had been doggedly covering Matthews political campaign and now the murder. Will the detective be able to get away with murder, or will Catherine be able to expose a crooked cop before the crooked cop silences her?

What an interesting plot, and the thing that made it totally different was the fact that I knew from the beginning who the killer was but still it was a real page turner as we watched Detective Beckman slowly start to crack under the pressure of trying to cover her tracks. I thought the character of Catherine McLeod was quite believable, its easy to see that she struggles with what happened to her in the past, and the relationship that she is slowly building with Nick Bustamante seems quite promising. I also love that her dog Rex is often mentioned in the story.
While this is the second book in the Catherine McLeod Mystery series it can easily be read as a stand alone work. I haven't read the first book and easily followed this story, although I have already purchased the first book in the series titled "Blood Memory," because this author's writing style has totally hooked me and makes me want to read more of her work! If your a fan of fast paced thrillers that will keep you intrigued until the final page then your going to love this one!
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VINE VOICEon September 7, 2011
David Matthews is the extremely popular candidate running for the Governor's seat in Colorado. Catherine McLeod has been covering his campaign. There are rumors of a few skeletons in his closet, affairs and some shady business deals but nothing that can be really substantiated. No one is more shocked than Catherine when news spreads that the candidate has been murdered in his home.

Police are scrambling to solve this high profile case as quickly as possible. His wife has motive with all his affairs and the murder weapon is even found in her house. But Catherine receives an anonymous phone call from someone who tells her they witnessed the killer leaving the scene of the crime and it was not his wife. Catherine puts her career and her life on the line to find the witness who can identify the killer.

My Thoughts:
The first reason I loved this book was that while it is being released three years after the last book the book picks up only about a year later. Catherine's romance has progressed but not by much, she is still learning more and more about her heritage and the mystery is top notch.

We know who the killer is from the beginning and we watch them react to everything happening as Catherine gets closer to the truth. Catherine is a tough heroine but we also get to see her softer side. She great in the moment of drama but is very human as she lets down her walls as she deals situations beyond her control.

The writer also writes in almost a poetic way when she describes the scenes in the book from things as simple as a sunrise to the places she travels while running down clues.

I am glad I made the effort to read this author's work. She is an outstanding storyteller. Catherine's ancestors would be very proud at how well she tells a story. I am going to have find a way to work into my reading schedule the Wind River Mysteries. I think I am missing out on some wonderful books.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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