The Suspect: A Karl Alberg Mystery
In this, L.R. Wright’s first mystery novel, we are introduced to RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg; and so begins the highly-acclaimed series featuring Karl and librarian Cassandra Mitchell.
At eighty, George Wilcox hardly expected to crown his life by committing a murder. It had happened so quickly, so easily, so unexpectedly in the sleepy town on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia: a near-perfect crime that wraps Wilcox in a web of guilt, honor, and secrets of the past. An unprovoked act that soon binds him to the warmhearted town librarian, Cassandra Mitchell, and her new romantic interest, zealous Staff Sergeant Alberg. Together, this troubled trio find themselves caught up in a crime whose solution transcends the logic of pure justice.
Canadian crime queen L.R. Wright distinguished herself by being the first Canuck to earn the prestigious Edgar Award for her mystery debut, The Suspect. Set on British Columbia’s picturesque Sunshine Coast, it introduces RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg—the hero of over a dozen subsequent novels, including Arthur Ellis Award winners A Chill Rain in January and Mother Love—as well as Wright’s distinctive technique of letting her readers know who commits the crime right up front. In Wright’s psychological mysteries, the central question is always not who, but why.
In The Suspect, 80-year-old retiree George Wilcox bashes an elderly neighbour over the head and calmly heads home to hide the murder weapon in plain sight and tend to his domestic chores:
It didn’t seem unreasonable to wait until the sky clouded over before going off to jail. This was probably the last dry sunny spell he’d know as a free man. He had no delusions on that score. He knew they’d catch up with him sooner or later. He had begun to hope, though, that he might first enjoy another season in his garden.
Alberg suspects that Wilcox is the culprit, but suspicion alone isn’t enough to bring charges. In the course of delving deep into the suspect’s history, Alberg embarks on a parallel personal quest, along the way discovering a soulmate in insightful librarian Cassandra Mitchell. —Deirdre Hanna