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Acts of Murder: A Karl Alberg Mystery with Cassandra Mitchell (Scribner) [Hardcover]

L.R Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1998
A 64-year-old cleaning woman proves to be an unlikely link in a string of murders in a small Canadian town, as Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg explores the wicked web of mystery surrounding the untimely deaths.

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From Publishers Weekly

Wright's books about small-town Canadian policeman Karl Alberg have been praised for their precise prose and meticulous attention to detail. Both qualities are abundant in her latest (after Strangers Among Us, 1996), as Staff Sergeant Alberg of the RMP prepares to marry his longtime ladyfriend, Cassandra Mitchell, while a devious killerAunknown to Alberg but introduced early to the readerAis busy killing off various residents of the town of Sechelt, B.C. Alberg himself is still an arresting mixture of reticence and ambition, and Wright never lets his relationship with the shrewd and sensual librarian Mitchell become predictable, even on their wedding day. A new addition to the cop shopAa tall, blonde, 35-year-old unmarried sergeant named Edwina HendersonAhas a mysterious personal life and lots of promise (both as a cop and as a character). And the person responsible for knocking off a string of men, women and even teenage children because of some perceived moral flaws is a frighteningly believable creation. Nothing in the telling is too hurried as Wright, much like Alberg, goes about her business with a reserved but wholly genuine passion.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Ten years after coming home to her husband unexpectedly and seeing a spectral figure vanish from behind him as she fell down a flight of stairs, Mrs. O'Hara, now the best-known cleaning woman in Sechelt, is involved in an even darker mystery, as each of her client families is touched by murder. Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Granger vanishes from her parents' home, to reappear as a corpse on her birthday six months later. Andrew Maine's wife Janet, who addressed her husband's resistance to the idea of children by getting an abortion, has followed the same path, even to her burial in the same meadow. And hints of still other victims are reaching Staff Sgt. Karl Alberg's ambitious new sidekick Edwina Henderson. They'd be reaching Alberg, too, if he weren't so preoccupied with the marriage to his longtime love Cassandra Mitchellan event celebrated on the very day Rebecca Granger disappeared--and with his sudden powerful urge to resign from the Mounties and hang out his shingle as a private eye in Vancouver. The off-the-rack serial-killer plot would be forgettable in anyone else's hands. But Wright (Strangers Among Us, 1996, etc.) turns it to magical use by her unexcelled gift of rooting acts of violence in the rhythms of everyday life and banal desires. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book to the finish... Aug. 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Acts of murder is an excellant book sure to grab even the most reluctant reader. Karl Alberg once again finds him self trying to piece together murders that seem unrelated, yet somehow, he suspects, they are all related. In this book, the lives of several different people, who for the most part do not know one another exist, are intertwined by one person. The cleaning lady has taken it upon her to punish the "sinners". Now, it's up to Karl Alberg and his new female sargent to piece this puzzle together.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book yet in this exciting mystery series May 16 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
After living together for many years, Staff Sargent Karl Alberg and Cassandra Mitchell marry. On that same day, a virus infects the townsfolk of Sechelt, Canada. It begins with the disappearance of a teenage girl, whose corpse was found in a shallow grave over a year later.
A young woman also vanishes after an ugly argument with her now worried spouse. Her body is found near the first body. A housewife thinks she kills her husband when she can no longer tolerate his infidelities. However, when she goes to dispose of the corpse, the body is missing. A waitress at the local diner turns up missing as well.Karl knows that he must uncover the identity of someone who is executing non-repenting sinners.
Laurali R. Wright, who is considered one of Canada's top mystery writers, is actually is one of the world's top crime authors. She is able to capture the mindset of the victims, perpetrators, and authorities with clarity rarely seen in novels. ACTS OF MURDER is actually three stories woven together by decade old actions. However, the book is very atmospheric, depending more on mood rather than action, and why rather than who. Ms. Wright may be in line for another Edgar with this terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book yet in this exciting mystery series May 16 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
After living together for many years, Staff Sargent Karl Alberg and Cassandra Mitchell marry. On that same day, a virus infects the townsfolk of Sechelt, Canada. It begins with the disappearance of a teenage girl, whose corpse was found in a shallow grave over a year later.
A young woman also vanishes after an ugly argument with her now worried spouse. Her body is found near the first body. A housewife thinks she kills her husband when she can no longer tolerate his infidelities. However, when she goes to dispose of the corpse, the body is missing. A waitress at the local diner turns up missing as well.Karl knows that he must uncover the identity of someone who is executing non-repenting sinners.
Laurali R. Wright, who is considered one of Canada's top mystery writers, is actually is one of the world's top crime authors. She is able to capture the mindset of the victims, perpetrators, and authorities with clarity rarely seen in novels. ACTS OF MURDER is actually three stories woven together by decade old actions. However, the book is very atmospheric, depending more on mood rather than action, and why rather than who. Ms. Wright may be in line for another Edgar with this terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent book to the finish... Aug. 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Acts of murder is an excellant book sure to grab even the most reluctant reader. Karl Alberg once again finds him self trying to piece together murders that seem unrelated, yet somehow, he suspects, they are all related. In this book, the lives of several different people, who for the most part do not know one another exist, are intertwined by one person. The cleaning lady has taken it upon her to punish the "sinners". Now, it's up to Karl Alberg and his new female sargent to piece this puzzle together.
4.0 out of 5 stars "Then she went into the room, picked up the second pillow, placed it swiftly, firmly, upon the old woman's face, and pressed." Jan. 19 2013
By Mark Louis Baumgart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"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.

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