About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"W" is for L.R. Wright

For the letter “W” in the Alphabet in Crime Fiction meme hosted by Kerrie Smith at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, I am profiling Canadian author L.R. Wright.

While long aware of Wright I had not read any of her books until earlier this year when I looked up her first book, The Suspect, for the 5th Canadian Book Challenge. I wished I had started reading her 20 years ago.

I was surprised to learn Wright is a fellow native of Saskatchewan. She was born in Saskatoon in 1939. She grew up in Saskatoon and Abbotsford, British Columbia but actually finished high school in Germany where her father was teaching at a Canadian military base.

As an adult she was a journalist with the Calgary Herald newspaper reaching Assistant City Editor. She left the paper to start writing novels full time.

Writing fiction required her to choose her writing name. The L.R. stands for Laurali Rose but, from even before birth, she was known as Bunny. Her first publisher thought it was not suitable for a writer, especially of crime fiction, and suggested the initials. I disagree. I think Bunny would have been very distinctive but publishers are not noted for originality.

In a 2000 interview in January Magazine she offered numerous insights on her writing.

With regard to her setting and the origins of The Suspect

Why did you choose to set the books on the Sunshine Coast?

Because the first one -- I didn't know it was going to be a mystery, let alone the first one in a series. I'd had an idea. I was having a conversation with some friends and we were talking about the old people in our lives and the things they were up to. And somebody had left their husband and moved in with someone else and they were in their 70s and we said: You think they'd know better. And somebody said: I guess what we're capable of as young people we're capable of when we're old. I'll bet they're just as capable of murder, even. I immediately had this vision of a little old man whacking another little old man over the head. And I thought: I must write this book.

So I started to write it, but I knew I needed a town that was so small because I knew that the person was not a criminal. You know, that this was a crime of passion. They had to live in a town that was so small that these two people couldn't avoid each other. And the only town I knew that was that small was Sechelt. So that's why I set it there. And then when it turned into a mystery and I wanted to do more, I could have moved him [Karl Alberg] to another detachment, but I guess I had really enjoyed that: creating a fictional town, even though it's a real one.

On her writing schedule she said:

You're writing all the time. Do you have a word goal a day? Or...?

I sort of try for five pages which is 1250 words a day. Something like that. And sometimes I get more. I really do it more in scenes. I'll have a scene in my head to write. And then I'll do that. And if it leads to another one immediately, I'll go on.

Unfortunately L.R., as with last week’s author, Michael Van Rooy, died too young. She was 61 when she lost a 6 year battle with breast cancer.

I greatly enjoyed The Suspect. It will be one of my favourite books in 2012. From the opening page we know the killer but that knowledge does not detract from the book.

As I said in my review she captured me when George Wilcox reflected on his murder of his neighbour Carlyle Burke:

“Gradually, as he sat thinking, it occurred to George that to give himself up was pointless. Even stupid. When they caught up with him, fine. He’d go to trial and prison without complaining, with dignity, even, if he could manage it. But to spend any more time locked up than was absolutely necessary – it made no sense.”

It has been a long time since I was as ambivalent about whether I wanted the murderer caught.

It was no surprise when I read The Suspect had won the Edgar for Best Novel in 1986

Recently I read the second in the series Sleep While I Sing. I enjoyed the book and will be posting a review.


  1. The next one to come off my TBR pile. Thanks, Bill!

  2. Bill - An excellent choice for W! And thanks very much for sharing her background. I like learning a little more about the author behind the book...

  3. Thanks Bill, for another Canadian author for the challenge! Can't wait to read her. Hope I can find her books easily here.

  4. I read 'The Suspect' recently and enjoyed it very much. Her books are quite difficult to find in th UK though which is such as shame.

  5. Anne H: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your thoughts on L.R. Wright.

  6. Margot: Thanks for the comment. She was a straightforward lady who loved to write.

  7. Peggy Ann: Thanks for the comment. Bunny is worth the effort to find her books.

  8. Sarah: Thanks for commenting. I am glad you enjoyed The Suspect. With the author gone for over a decade I doubt it will get easier to find her books.

  9. I read The Suspect back in August. I had had the book for quite a while, but it was your review and your enthusiasm for the book that motivated me to read it as my first book for the Canadian Reading Challenge. And I have a couple more in the series to read soon. Hope I like them as much. Looking forward to your upcoming review.

  10. TracyK: Thanks for the kind words. Wright had a distinctive voice and helped lead the way for mysteries outside the huge cities of Canada.

  11. The Suspect was so good! I couldn't put it down, literally, since I've been reading it all day and have just finished. I don't want to spoil it for others who haven't read it yet, so no further comment except to say it certainly is one of the books of the year for me too and the character of George will go on haunting me for a while, I think.

  12. The timelines on my posts amuse me! it is definitely not the middle of the night here, it's 5.37 right now. And I have been checking out the rest of L R Wright's Karl Alberg series, and have purchased the second.

  13. Anne H: Thanks for the comments. You know a book has moved you when the mere mention of the title instantly brings a memory of a lead character.

    Only after I became a blogger did I appreciate there are 24 time zones in the world with someone somewhere experiencing a specific hour every hour.

  14. I found out about The Suspect from a blog, read it, raved about it. Then read about L.R. Wright and purchased two more of her books.

    The three books were republished by Felony and Mayham Press, set in New York, and sold at Partners and Crime, which unfortunately just closed, a victim of megastores and online booksellers and less book purchasing.

    I would not have convicted George had I been on a jury. Sometimes there's justiable homicide. His was one of the most sympathetic motives I've read.

    The three books published by Felony and Mayhem Press are available through Amazon. They also have used copies of some of her other Karl Alsberg books; so does Abe Books (which I like).

  15. George suffers dreadfully from an over-developed sense of guilt. Even after reading the letters Carlyle intended him to see, he feels guilty for not extending the hand of friendship to the man. It seems to be the real reason he lashed out and inflicted the fatal blow on Carlyle... only to regret not hearing him out.
    There! I said George would haunt me!
    5.19 pm and there is a big koala in a tree in my garden.

  16. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. It hurts to read about any bookstore closing.

    I want you on the jury when I next defend someone.

  17. Anne H.: Thanks for the comment. George is a sensitive soul.

    No koalas in the trees outside my window! It is -7 C and dropping tonight.

  18. Hi, I'm one of L.R. Wright's daughters. Thanks for writing about my mom's work. Felony and Mayhem Press may be reissuing some more of her books, so keep an eye out! There is also a stage version of The Suspect in the works.

    About her battle with cancer, she asked us to say that when she died, the cancer died with her. It was a draw.

  19. J Wright: Thanks for the kind words. Your mother was a fine writer. I would very much like to see The Suspect on stage. I can see how it could work well as a play. Lastly, I admire the spirit of your mother displayed in your closing paragraph.