(There may be some spoilerish content below, but I haven't given away any secrets to the mysteries mentioned. Apologies to the quality of the book covers. I no longer have my copies of LR Wright's stories so had to find photos online)
Between 1979 and 1984, she had 3 novels published and at the same time she resettled to Burnaby, B.C. Her fourth novel, The Suspect, was the start of a successful series of mysteries set in B.C., along the Sunshine Coast. In this novel, she introduced us to one of my favourite fictional characters, Sergeant Karl Alberg of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
This wasn't the first of LR Wright's mysteries that I read, but chronologically, it should be discussed first. I've read every one of her mystery stories. There were 9 Alberg mysteries and two of Sergeant Edwina Henderson, the Mountie who took over for Alberg when he retired.
Even disregarding the presence of our vaunted Mounties, the stories are very Canadian, very West Coast Canadian. The area of BC used in the stories, the Sunshine Coast, located north of Vancouver, covers communities such as Sechelt, Gibsons, all the way to Powell River. It's been the setting of a well-known (in Canada, at the very least) of the CBC's Beachcombers television series). L.R. Wright gets the feel for the small communities exceedingly well.
I enjoyed her mysteries greatly. The Suspect earned the honour as first Canadian writer to win the Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Novel of 1985. From that point on, she concentrated on mysteries. The series introduce us to Karl Alberg, his small police station in Sechelt and also to his personal life, especially his ongoing relationship with the town librarian, Cassandra. LR Wright's mysteries, like so many great mysteries, weren't so much about the mystery itself. Rather they focused on Karl Alberg, his dealings with the the local town folk, his developing personal relationships, with Cassandra and also his daughter.
It's been a long time since I've read the stories, but if I recall, in most cases, in not all, you also knew who the murderer/ criminal was from the beginning and the development of that character's personality was also one of the many interesting aspects of the particular story. In The Suspect, for example, the 'criminal mastermind' is eighty year old George Wilcox who kills one of his old crony friends. The story revolves around George, Cassandra and sympathetic Karl Alberg. It is this developing relationship that gets your interest.
With The Suspect, LR Wright began a wonderful exploration of Karl Alberg's universe. He reminds me of other great police officers in fiction; Jesse Stone, Chief Inspector Barnaby, amongst others. The joy of their stories is their interaction with their fellow officers, their surroundings. It is this that makes their stories so interesting. And, hey, they also solve interesting mysteries.
As Karl Alberg works to solve this mystery, he is also trying to deal with Cassandra's, his librarian girl friend, new infatuation with a Hollywood actor, Roger Galbraith, who has moved to Sechelt to live with his mother. Compounding this is the fact that Galbraith who is flirting not only with Cassandra but most of the eligible women in town, but is also one of the main suspects in the murder.
LR Wright had the ability to continue developing her characters to ensure you remained deeply involved in their lives. You want Alberg and Cassandra to get together and these speed bumps that crop up to slow down their relationship add to the interest.
And at the same time, she draws you into the mystery, how Karl goes around in his methodical, intuitive way to ultimately solving, in this case, a violent murder.