Review: LR Wright – The Suspect

If images of Canada conjure up thoughts of icy wilderness and miles of forest, you’re in for a surprise with this book. The Suspect by LR Wright is set in the small town of Sechelt on Canada’s ‘Sunshine Coast’, an area to the north of Vancouver famed for its mild climate and stunning coastline. It’s a place that Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has chosen for an easy posting. However, when Carlyle Burke, an elderly man with few friends is found dead, Karl has to use his knowledge of human foibles and methodical policing to find the killer.

The Suspect is a short and unusual book that draws the reader into the story. The setting provides the backdrop to the murder investigation, with descriptions of fertile gardens and small coastal inlets, and there is an air of the retirement village about the whole plot, a gentle paced hunt for a murderer. For the reader there is never any doubt about the culprit as the opening chapter is written from the murderer’s point of view. The book charts Karl’s growing suspicions about the identity of the killer and his attempts to prove the man’s guilt and to ascertain the motive.

The police investigation part of the book works very well and Karl is clearly a talented policeman. Also central to the plot is a date that he goes on with Cassandra, the town’s librarian. Their budding romance is tainted by her friendship with the main suspect and the characterisation of the interweaving relationship between Karl, Cassandra and the suspect George is the principal strength of this book. This is a book with no major shocks but a gradual revealing of supposed wrongs done to a person. I’m not sure I believed that the motive was enough to make a man kill but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.

This unusual little book was a delight to read, all the more so as it was something I probably wouldn’t have picked up. I will certainly read more of this series if I can find them.

Thanks to Maxine at Petrona for my copy. Her review is here. The book, first published in 1985, has also been reviewed by Mysteries in Paradise and Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan.

The writer (who died in 1991) has an official website.

10 thoughts on “Review: LR Wright – The Suspect

  1. Lovely review. I enjoyed this book, too (thanks for the link). I know what you mean about the motive, but I’ve read weaker ones in other books (many other books, actually) ;-)

  2. Sarah – An excellent review, for which thanks. I do think Wright’s choice to let readers know who the killer is from the start works well here (‘though I’ve read a lot of novels where it doesn’t). The pace works too, as you point out, for the setting, and I think that’s one of the book’s real strengths.

  3. I liked this book so much I posted about it around the mystery reading blogosphere, and happily, many readers got it and read it.
    I found it at Partners and Crime in my city, a wonderful independent crime fiction bookstore. One of the “Partners” is the publisher of Felony and Mayhem Press, which has republished three of Lorelai Rose Wright’s books. “The Suspect” was their first venture.
    I passed my copy to friends, who liked it. Unfortunately, someone lost it so the loaning out ended, but other readers would have loved it. (I may just buy another copy to lend around.)
    The sense of place was wonderful. I can picture the Western seacoast of British Columbia now with Karl and Cassandra having tea.
    I liked the characters and found the motive believable, in fact, a quite sympathetic one, given the relationships, love and protectiveness.

    • Thanks Kathy, you were spot on with this book. I believe that the other site I review for crimesquad.com is going to feature LR Wright as its classic crime author later this year. Something to look forward to.

  4. Pingback: The Best of July’s Reading « crimepieces

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