cover image A Touch of Panic: A Karl Alberg Mystery

A Touch of Panic: A Karl Alberg Mystery

Laurali R. Wright. Scribner Book Company, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19672-5

Odd narrative angles, several cute coincidences and some tangled police work comprise this latest mystery from the acclaimed Canadian author of, most recently, Prized Possessions. Canadian Mountie Karl Alberg seems oblivious to the weird events occurring in his bailiwick on the British Columbia coast. The decidedly strange Gordon Murphy, in pursuit of Karl's girlfriend, Cassandra, proves willing to redecorate his mansion for a woman whose heart he has not won. Meanwhile, old-timer Reginald Dutton is convinced that the police department owes him rent and that his prized coin collection has been purloined. Reginald is often confused, but crime is rampant, despite the fact that mechanic Ronnie Plankton likes to break and enter more than he likes to steal. Ronnie also likes completely bald newcomer-to-town Naomi Hellyer, who's staying with a crusty woman cab driver whose wreck of a house has locals up in arms. Wright creates narrative tension with these disparate plot pieces and sympathetic eccentrics, but the narrative falters when, in an unconvincing turn of events, one of the cast goes psychotic. Aside from that, though, Karl's latest efforts to maintain tenuous control of his wayward townsfolk is an undeniable pleasure. Mystery Book Club alternate. (Sept.)