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The Perfect Suspect (Catherine McLeod) by Margaret Coel
Cover Artist: Photo: George Burba / Shutterstock
Review by Don Metzler
Berkley Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425243480
Date: 06 September 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

"For godssakes, Ryan. Put the gun down." She had heard the tremor in his voice, so unlike the candidate renowned for his cool demeanor, his control of every situation. "Don't do anything that...."

It was lost, all lost, in the explosion of the Sig. Her own life crashed around her, as if the beams and the plaster had fallen from the ceiling and she was left standing in the debris, staring at the lifeless body of David Mathews.

She had to get away. A neighbor could have heard the gunshots. She backed across the living room and into the entry, not taking her eyes from David's body, so still and helpless and complete. There would be nothing more for David Mathews. She used the front of her jacket to turn the doorknob. Still using the jacket, she pulled the door shut behind her.

She saw the woman then, halted in mid-step on the sidewalk next to the curb.

Ryan swung sideways, out of the porch light, ran along the front of the house and rounded the corner.

The woman on the sidewalk had seen her! Every instinct told Ryan to drive around the block, find the woman and kill her.

Detective Ryan Beckman has just killed a man. But not just any man. The victim is Colorado gubernatorial candidate David Mathews, which means that the investigation into this homicide will be high profile. And there is one additional complication: Ryan Beckman is David Mathews' ex-lover.

It wasn't meant to happen, Ryan tells herself. I didn't intend to kill him. But even so, it has happened. And worse yet, there is a witness, a woman who might be able to identify Ryan as the person leaving Mathews' house just after the gunshots. Early the next morning Ryan gets a phone call from her boss. The mother of all ironies has occurred; Ryan Beckman is assigned to be lead detective in the investigation into the murder of David Mathews. Ryan's survival instincts tell her two things. Firstly, she must look for an obvious, convenient suspect whom she can use to divert suspicion from herself, and this proves to be an easy enough task. David had lately been on strained terms with his wife, Sydney. An estranged wife makes for a perfect suspect in a case like this, and it isn't long before Ryan manages to have Sydney Mathews charged with the murder of her husband.

Secondly, Ryan realizes that she must locate the witness, the woman on the sidewalk, and eliminate her.

As all of this is unfolding, Denver journalist and investigative reporter Catherine McLeod receives a phone call from an anonymous source who claims to know who the killer is. The woman on the sidewalk wants someone to know who she saw leaving the Mathews' home that night. And for some reason, she has chosen McLeod as her point of contact.

The race is on. Who will reach this witness first: Catherine McLeod, to get the details of exactly what the woman on the sidewalk saw and heard? Or Ryan Beckman, to kill her?

The Perfect Suspect is author Margaret Coel's finest effort to date. Her Wind River Mysteries, featuring Father John O'Malley and Native American lawyer Vicky Holden, were always fun reading, but that particular series had probably run its course. In Blood Memory, Coel introduced us to journalist Catherine McLeod, and with The Perfect Suspect she continues to delve into the psyche and motivations of this character. Like Vicky Holden, Catherine McLeod possesses Native American connections, specifically with the Arapaho tribe. However, because McLeod was raised by foster parents, her connection to her heritage is somewhat tentative, and in some ways that makes it all the more interesting. I look forward to watching these connections unfold and evolve in future installments of this series.

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