11 November 2011

Review: THE SUSPECT, L.R. Wright

  • this copy published by Penguin Books 1987
  • 217 pages
  • ISBN 0-14-010477-1
  • Source: I bought it, I think. Has been residing on TBR for some time.
Publisher's blurb (author's site)

When there is a murder in a town like Sechelt ­ a sleepy community on Canada's aptly named Sunshine Coast ­ it is necessarily unusual. And in this case no one finds it more so than the eighty-year-old culprit himself, who, upon brutally striking an eighty-five-year-old crony on the head, realizes, to his great surprise, that "he is going to survive this astonishing thing."

But murder is a word far larger than much of George Wilcox's life, and suddenly he is concerned less with his volunteer work at the local hospital, or with his prolific garden, or with his out-of-touch daughter, than with guilt and honour and with secrets of the past. His crime ­ unlikely and unpremeditated, though not, as we will learn, unprovoked ­ binds him tightly to two crucial people: to warm-hearted Cassandra, the town librarian, and to Alberg, her new romantic interest, who also happens to be the humane but zealous cop investigating Wilcox's case. Theirs is an almost magical triangle, welded together by a quiet affection, structured on a firm discretion.

My take

After reading the blurb above, you are possibly left wondering what on earth I could say about this book. You certainly don't need to be told any more of the story.

From the author's site again:
    With The Suspect, her first mystery novel, L.R. Wright became the first Canadian to win the high-profile Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Novel of 1985.
My quest to read a few more Canadian authors led to me to read ACTS OF MURDER earlier this year. I discovered that it was the last in quite a long series and then I realised that I had the first in the series THE SUSPECT on the shelves.
  • The Suspect (1985)
  • Sleep While I Sing (1986)
  • A Chill Rain in January (1990)
  • Fall From Grace (1991)
  • Prized Possessions (1993)
  • A Touch of Panic (1994)
  • Mother Love (1995)
  • Strangers Among Us (1996)
  • Acts of Murder (1997)
We are in no doubt about who committed the murder in THE SUSPECT, as we, the readers, are present when George Wilcox did it, so the interest centres on two aspects: why did he do it, and will he get away with it?
The other element though is the introduction of a new sleuthing pair, newly arrived Mountie Karl Alberg and local librarian Cassandra Mitchell. However they don't know that George is the murderer although both of them come to that realisation. They react quite differently to that knowledge.

THE SUSPECT is a cleverly written story on a number of levels and one of those that you come to appreciate more as you write about it. No wonder it won the Edgar for best novel in 1985.

Laurali R. Wright died from breast cancer in 2001 and there is a comprehensive biography on her official site that leaves us in no doubt about what a loss that was.

THE SUSPECT is a quick read, so if you can find a copy, read it, and see if you agree with me.

My rating: 4.8


Margot Kinberg said...

You've certainly whetted my appetite, Kerrie :-). Thanks for a really fine review.

Bev Hankins said...

I just recently picked this one up at our library's used book store. It's on the TBR pile...and last I checked there was another copy ready to be grabbed. If anyone has trouble finding it, wants it and wants me to see if it's still waiting on the shelf, shoot me an email (phryne1969 AT gmail DOT com). I'm happy to oblige.

kathy d. said...

I read this book a few years ago and liked it very much. In fact, recommended it at RTR as a suggestion for more Canadian women writers.

L.R. (Laurali Rose) Wright is a terrific writer of suspense and human psychology and behavior.

Felony and Mayhem Press, based in New York, is republishing Wright's books. They have reprinted 3 so far. They consider Wright a real find. I agree, although I did not like the second two quite as much as The Suspect -- but I will continue buying and reading her books as they're reissued.

Wright's first book as mentioned here won an Edgar, and beat out a book by Ruth Rendell.

Readers, especially women, can't go wrong with Wright.

And I agree -- her loss from breast cancer 10 years ago deprived us of not only a terrific writer, but a stellar woman.


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