Don't pick up Margaret Coel's The Perfect Suspect expecting to find a Father John and Vicky Holden mystery set on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Denver is the second home of the Arapaho, and it's the home of Coel's other series character, investigative journalist Catherine McLeod. The other thing you don't want to do is pick this up expecting a traditional mystery. The Perfect Suspect is a suspense novel in which we know the murderer from the first page. But, Catherine McLeod needs to show the world who the killer is. Who would believe the investigating police detective killed a gubernatorial candidate?
Ryan Beckman killed David Mathews because the ambitous frontrunner in the race for governor wanted to end their affair. And, the police detective knew how to leave no traces, how to plant the evidence on Mathews' estranged wife, and how to uncover the few witnesses who might be able to link her romantically to the victim. She was so lucky to be assigned the high-profile case. She wasn't as lucky that an anonymous witness called Catherine McLeod, and the journalist believed the caller.
There are actually no spoilers in that summary. The Perfect Suspect pits two strong women against each other, one digging for truth while the other covers it up. The reader sees the inner workings of the murder case from three sides, two of them belonging to Ryan Beckman. Beckman is a killer, and the investigating detective who makes the case against someone else. Catherine McLeod suspects Beckman, and understands why the anonymous witness can't call the cops. Beckman is stacking the deck in her favor. McLeod, who was forced to kill a man to save herself, still has problems with that death. So, she can't understand the ruthless Beckman. "What kind of woman can shoot a man - and go on killing?" It's not in Catherine's nature to do that. But, it is in her nature to continue to fight for the truth while placing herself in danger. Catherine is the biggest threat to Beckman's story, something Ryan Beckman knows
The Perfect Suspect is a novel of deception. David Mathews wasn't the man he appeared to be. Beckman certainly isn't the good officer she appears to be. She's a ruthless killer, willing to eliminate anyone who can tie her to Mathews. Even Catherine McLeod is forced to deceive her police detective boyfriend as she investigates a fellow officer. And, The Perfect Suspect itself? It's not a mystery. It's an intriguing novel of suspense.
Margaret Coel's website is http://www.margaretcoel.com/
The Perfect Suspect by Margaret Coel. Berkley Prime Crime. ©2011. ISBN 9780425240480 (hardcover), 293p.
FTC Full Disclosure - The publicist sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.