Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Perfect Suspect and Train Dreams

Ever get tired of reading books from the same genre all the time?

I wouldn’t say I get tired of reading them, I just find I don’t seem to have as much enthusiasm when I read too many back to back. I enjoy the variety of switching from one genre to another. It makes each read more refreshing to me. 

With that in mind I have two completely different style books to share with you today. The first is a novel of suspense and intrigue, while the second is a novella of poignant fiction almost a memoir.


Reading a murder mystery, the reader tries to discover the killer’sPerfect Suspect Cover identify before the author reveals it near the end of the book.

With THE PERFECT SUSPECT, author Margaret Coel has given readers a new challenge. She reveals the killer at the start and keeps readers guessing how and when the killer will finally be caught.

Here’s the blurb that sparked my interest: A scream renders the early morning quiet of an upscale Denver neighborhood when David Mathews, the wildly popular candidate for governor, is found murdered. It quickly becomes a high-profile homicide and local investigators are pressured to make an arrest. When David’s estranged wife, Sydney, is arrested for first-degree homicide, journalist Catherine McLeod receives an anonymous phone call from a woman who claims she saw the real killer leave the scene of the crime and it was not Sydney. Because the caller is afraid to confide in the police, Catherine risks her career—and her life— to uncover the truth and find another witness who can identify the candidate’s real murderer: Detective Ryan Beckman, the lead investigator in the case.
Pitting a reporter against a murdering detective leads to suspense, intrigue and a gripping story. The author’s writing is smooth and flowing as it draws you further into the plot with the turn of each page. While you know who the killer is, it’s a fascinating story of cat-and-mouse as you guess how the killer will finally be brought to justice. The twist at the end may surprise you.

The story deals with three independent women who face life’s adversities in very different ways - the killer, the reporter and the witness. Two of the women, McLeod and Beckman, are strong and determine. It’s a case of good, evil and one trying to do the right thing.

THE PERFECT SUSPECT is a sequel to BLOOD MEMORY, but is a stand alone read. 

The Perfect Suspect by Margaret Coel, A Catherine McLeod Mystery, Berkley Prime Crime, @2011, ISBN: 978-0-425-24348-0, Hardcover, 304 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


TRAIN DREAMS begins with the attempted murder of a ‘Chinaman’ 51ZnbmdGEBL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_in the American West before the turn of the 20th century.

Young day laborer Robert Grainier has joined with some of his fellow workers who are attempting to throw a Chinese worker off a bridge for allegedly stealing. The man breaks free while screaming at the men in his native language. Grainier feels certain the ‘Chinaman’ has cursed them all.

From there the story follows the few triumphs and many defeats Grainier faces throughout the course of his life. He works as a logger, a bridge builder, and as a freight hauler. He loses his wife and baby daughter to a great fire that sweep the area just hours before he returned from a logging job.

The novella tells of various people and situations Grainier encounters. It tells of the harsh life many faced. It also tells of how the landscape of the west changed, as well as the changes the people experienced. It talks of Grainier’s first airplane ride, his seeing the world’s fattest man and his encounter with the ‘wolf girl.’

The story is rich in history and Will Patton’s powerful narration adds great emotion to the story. Patton gives each character in this tale great depth.

TRAIN DREAMS is a short audio, but well worth listening to. The characters will stay with you long after the story ends. 

Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson, Read by Will Patton, Macmillan Audio, @2011, ISBN: 9781427213778, Unabridged, 2 CDs, Run time: 2½ hours

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


  1. Hi Mason .. both sound very interesting .. especially the first one .. but the audio book has lots of to offer from a historical point of view ... thanks - Hilary

  2. Mason - Thanks for sharing these books. I like Margaret Coel's Vicky Holden series, so I'm very interested in this other series of hers. And I really like the idea of Train Dreams, too. I'm a history lover, so that sounds particularly interesting :-).

  3. Hi Mason,
    the first one really appeals to me. I don't buy many mystery novels, but I do enjoy a good one every now and then. Thanks.

  4. Reading the same type of thing always is not for me. Just like I enjoy a wide range of personalities in my friends, I like to read most genres.

    Great reviews!

  5. I thought The Perfect Suspect had a very different plot from the run of the mill mystery novel and enjoyed it quite a bit. Glad you liked it too

  6. The Perfect Suspect made me think of Columbo's films: we knew the killer without knowing how he would be caught. This seems a good book for me.

    I read different kinds of books because I can learn a lot of things doing so.

  7. To some extent I am a mood reader, but when I grow tired of one subgenre of crime fiction, I just pick another one ;)

    The trick of telling the reader who the protagonist is and slowly revealing how and why is excellent when the writer masters the art of keeping us on the edge of the seat. The Perfect Suspect sounds great.

  8. Hi all, thanks so much for stopping by.

    Hilary, TRAIN DREAMS does offer a lot from a historical viewpoint. Learning about the logging aspect was interesting.

    Margot, I think you would enjoy TRAIN DREAMS (as well as THE PERFECT SUSPECT). The CD really puts you in the time and place and makes it come alive.

    Karen, THE PERFECT SUSPECT would be a nice change of pace.

    Harvee, THE PERFECT SUSPECT was different and refreshing. I see we like a lot of the same type books. :)

    danielle-momo, I hadn't thought about the connect to Columbo but you're right. I enjoy learning from books too.

    Dorte, I think I must be a mood reader a bit too. THE PERFECT SUSPECT does keep you on the edge of your seat wondering when and how the killer will be caught.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.