The Suspect by L.R. Wright

The Suspect cover

The Suspect by L.R. Wright was published in 1985 and it’s the first book I’ve read by this author. She’s known as Laurali Wright in the US.

The setting is a little coastal town in British Columbia, the Sechelt Peninsula otherwise known as the Sunshine Coast. The police force there is of course the Canadian Mounties but disappointingly Karl Alberg doesn’t wear that distinctive uniform as he carries out his crime investigation. Karl has only recently moved to Sechelt, it’s thought of being a bit of a cushy job within the police force, it’s a quiet backwater. Or is it?

This is quite an unusual murder mystery as there is no mystery as to who the culprit is but there is plenty of mystery about why the victim was murdered and how such a likeable chap could commit the murder.

I really liked this one, everything about it, the writing, the setting and the characters. It is the first in a series so it looks like I’m going to be seeking out books from yet another crime series, I have so many on the go! I’m wondering if it is necessary to read these ones in order, I prefer to do that but I don’t think all of  the books will be easy for me to track down.

Sadly the writer Laurali Rose Wright died in 2001. Have you read any of her books?

The only other Lauralis I have ever heard of are the mother and daughter in The Gilmore Girls, a TV show that I really enjoyed, although I’m not even sure their names were spelled the same way. Maybe it is quite a common name in some parts of the world, have you ever met any?

Dead Cold by Louise Penny

Dead Cold by Louise Penny is the second book in Penny’s Armand Gamache series, the setting is Three Pines which is a small village in Quebec. This book is absolutely full of twists and turns and kept me guessing right to the end, but apart from that it’s a great read all round.

Three Pines is described as something which looks like it has come alive from a Christmas card design. In fact I was thinking it’s like Brigadoon when that is exactly what the author described it as being like. This is the second Three Pines book which I’ve read and each of them has been set in freezing depths of a Canadian winter. I’m wondering if it’s ever summer in Three Pines.

Summer or Winter, I want to live there, more particularly I want to be sitting on the sofa opposite the wood-burning stove which sits in the middle of the bookshop, and going to Gabri and Olivier’s bistro for my lunch.

Anyway, the first sentence in the book tells you who is going to be murdered and by the time the deed is done I was just about cheering, because she was a truly ghastly character, a bullying egomaniac who was as shallow as they come.

But there are so many other great characters and relationships going on in the book. I particularly like Inspector Gamache and his wife, Reine-Marie, they’re very close and loving which is almost unheard of in detectives where divorced misfits seems to be the order of the day. Mind you, having said that I think that Maigret and his wife might have been a successful partnership, but it must be about 40 years since I read anything by Simenon so I’m not at all sure about that. Can anyone else remember?

Jalna by Mazo de la Roche

Jalna cover

I don’t know what it was that got me thinking about this author and her Jalna series recently, as I mentioned before they were in the public library which I used to work in but even then (1970s) they were regarded as ‘old hat’. I have to admit that I’m a bit snooty when it comes to some books, well quite a lot of books actually, and I think I looked down my nose at poor old Mazo de la Roche because there were so many of the books, it looked like they’d just been churned out.

Anyway, I haven’t seen anyone else mentioning this author so I thought I would give her a go as part of the C P R Book Group. It was first published in 1927 and Jalna is the first in the Whiteoak series, it was an instant best seller. The American magazine Atlantic Monthly awarded Mazo $10,000 for Jalna, a huge amount of money in 1927. The first of any sort of series must be the awkward one because it’s necessary for the writer to do a lot of scene setting and and basically info dumping so there’s always going to be a certain amount of clunkiness in that process, but I still found Jalna to be an interesting and entertaining read.

It’s set in Canada where Adeline and Captain Philip Whiteoak have moved to after their marriage in Bombay where Philip had been in the British Army. At the beginning of the book Adeline is 99, her husband is long dead as are the mothers of her grandchildren and they are all living together along with Adeline’s two surviving sons on the family estate which is called Jalna. Gran Adeline is a domineering but amusing character. Her pet parrot, which of course perches on her shoulder, also swears fluently in Hindi, which I wish I knew!

It’s a lot to keep straight to begin with, there are so many male characters but as with all good family sagas there’s a family tree at the beginning. My heart did sink a wee bit at first because chapter 1 is all about the 8 year old Wakefield Whiteoak who is supposed to be a loveable rogue I think. In reality I would never have tired of giving him a good skelp – how un-PC of me! But the story soon moves on to all the other family members and their lives.

Well I found myself caught up by all the various characters and I’m happy that I managed to buy the second book in the series the other day. I got the first one from my local library.

It isn’t what you would call high brow literature, more of a comfort read really and that’s exactly the job that this series did, especially during the time of World War II when real families were scattered all over the world by the conflict. There are 16 books in the series and I think I’ll work my way through them all eventually.

This is a book which I read as part of the C P R Book Group Ceilidh and although I enjoyed it I’m giving it a tentative HEE-YOOCH (remember this is just a bit of fun, nobody else has to hee-yooch or black spot!) which would probably translate to about 4 out of 5.