The Suspect by L.R. Wright

The SuspectBook Review:  The Suspect by L.R. Wright

The first in the Karl Alberg series, this why-did-he-do-it mystery is set on the lush Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.  An avid gardener, George Wilcox is still fairly strong at eighty years old — strong enough to kill eighty-five year-old Carlyle Burke with one blow.  At first, George intends to turn himself in, but it occurs to him that he might be able to cover his tracks — he might be able to get away with it.  The guilt he feels is almost overshadowed by the challenge of matching wits with the new Staff Sergeant, Karl Alberg.

After years in the big cities, an assignment in the small town of Sechelt seems like just the thing Karl Alberg needs.  Recently divorced, he’s looking for a quiet place to start over.  He’s also looking for someone to start over with.  The local librarian is attractive and intriguing — unfortunately, she’s also good friends with George Wilcox, the man Alberg is certain murdered Carlyle Burke.

Cassandra Mitchell only calls Sechelt home because she needs to be near her aging mother.  The Sunshine Coast is scenic but it’s quiet, almost sleepy most of the time, and the dating pool once you’re in your forties is pretty shallow.  The new Staff Sergeant is interesting but he’s determined to pin Carlyle Burke’s murder on sweet George Wilcox.  As much as she hates to consider it, she realizes that Alberg may not be wrong.  But why would George do such a thing?

And that’s the mystery.  Why would such a good-natured man do such a horrible thing?  It’s clear from the beginning that Wilcox and Burke have a past together; their dark history is revealed slowly as Alberg tries to find the evidence he needs to close this case.  It complicates things for Karl as realizes that he likes the old man but he follows every clue.  Wilcox, Alberg, and Mitchell are bound together in a story that makes us question the nature of justice.  With its intriguing characters and strong sense of place, this book beat out titles by Ruth Rendell and Jonathan Kellerman to win the Edgar award in 1986 — I can see why.

L.R. Wright died in February 2001. She is the author of fourteen previous novels. She twice won the Arthur Ellis Award for A Chill Rain in January and for Mother Love, which also won the Canadian Authors Association Award for literary fiction. 

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