"Acts Of Murder" by Laurali R. Wright (L. R. Wright: 1939-2001) starts ten years in the past (May 1985) in Abbotsford, British Colombia. Mrs. O'Hara (whose first name is never, I think, given) comes home early that day after a hard slog at work only to find that her husband has possibly had somebody over. Startled by him and this mysterious "somebody", she falls down the front stairs of the house and is knocked unconscious.
The novel then starts proper in 1995 in Sechelt, B. C. as Mrs. O'Hara, now a cleaning lady, sees the young Rebecca Granger accidently kill the Granger family dog. Then on the fourteenth of February Rebecca disappears. This is the same day that series character Karl Alberg is getting married to long-time gal pal Cassandra Mitchell, so being distracted, he just sloughs off the reported disappearance of Rebecca. Something that he will come to regret as this "runaway" not only never turns up, but whose remains are uncovered on Rebecca's birthday six months later.
Series regulars Sid Sokolowski and Isabella Harbund continue their supporting roles except that after the dissolution of his marriage, Sid decides to retire and Alberg needs a replacement for him. On Monday, March 25th Alberg would get that replacement in the form of Edwina (Eddie) Henderson, who is described as being an Amazonian six-foot one-inch, blond, ambitious thirteen-year veteran of the Mounties.
The twenty-fifth is a busy day in Sechelt as Susan Atkinson begins to worry as her long-time (married) boyfriend not only hasn't called her, but seems to have disappeared. Meanwhile, Denise Dyakowski is becoming more and more dissociated from reality as she is collecting trash bags full of what ?, her husband, who is Susan's boyfriend, seems to have disappeared. Are there two killers loose in Sechelt, or is that the killer, whose identity is never made a secret, is not who we think that it is?
Also on this day, Janet Maine is on the outs with her husband Andrew after she has revealed a personal secret to him. He will come home from work that day he will find that she isn't there, and will never be home again.
Told in the third person, Wright gets to get into a lot of people's heads, and as such, we get to follow this mystery/suspense story from many angles. However, as the novel progresses the focus will narrow to mainly three main storylines and their characters. There is Karl Alberg, who after a long and distinguished career is forcing himself to re-access his life now that he's starting a new chapter in his life. There is Mrs. O'Hara whose past holds the key as to her current actions, whose past and present holds the key as to why current events are happening in Sechelt, and who believes that her careers, she has two as the reader will find out when they read this novel, are coming to an end, and that something new will await her. The last major character in "Acts Of Murder" is Eddie Henderson, who is trying to start afresh, despite being dogged by her paternalistic father who doesn't understand her career choice and doesn't want her to be in the RCMP, and who seems to be stalked by her abusive ex-boyfriend.
If there is a unifying theme to "Acts Of Murder" it is that all the major, and most of the minor, characters become involved in re-accessing their lives, will try to put to bed their past, and who will try to start anew on a fresh course of their lives. It's no secret that this is the last, of nine, novels featuring Karl Alberg, and the first in the Eddie Henderson series. All of the characters, except the murderer, who is emotionally distant, seem likable enough, and those that are/were fans of Karl Alberg will be glad to know that his series ends on a high note as this is a classy, excellent police procedural, with an almost laid-back, but intelligent air to it. This series, if the rest of the novels are like this, would probably make great movies as the ambience this book reminded me of Tom Selleck's "Jesse Stone" television movie series.
I also liked the new character of Eddie Henderson, as she comes across as just an ordinary woman, who on her first day on the job, was struck between a rock and a hard place. I haven't read any of the other Eddie books, but I might, just to see if she can resolve her father and her ex's problems, and how well she will fit into her new job in the small B. C. community of Sechelt. Unfortunately, she would only appear in two more novels before her untimely death when she passed away when her creator did back in 2001. There may be an unfinished novel featuring her somewhere, but chances are that we will never see it.
"Acts Of Murder" is a novel that is the end of one series, and the beginning of another. If only other writers could end their series with such skill. This novel was a finalist for 1997 Hammett Prize. I read the Thorndike Press large print version, and this is an attractive and easy to read book that is made with acid-free paper that will hold up to many re-readings.
For this site I have also reviewed the following mysteries:
Alice Nestleton #21: A Cat On The Bus by Lydia Adamson.
Come Out, Come Out by George Malcolm-Smith.
Captain Heimrich #10: Let Dead Enough Alone by Richard Lockridge and Frances Lockridge.
The Drifter's Wheel by Phillip DePoy.
The Last to Remember by Joyce Lavene & Jim Lavene.
Limbo Connection, The by Derry Quinn.
Lock 14 (Inspector Maigret Mysteries) by George Simenon.
Mrs. Bradley #18: The Rising of the Moon (Virago Modern Classics) by Gladys Mitchell.
Mrs. Bradley #46: Winking At the Brim - Large Print by Gladys Mitchell.
Mrs. Bradley #48: Late, Late in the Evening by Gladys Mitchell.
Fleming Stone #45: Murder in the Bookshop by Carolyn Wells.
Reader's Digest: Great Stories of Mystery and Suspense: Volume #1.
What did I do tomorrow? by L. P. Davies.