cover image Mother Love: A Karl Alberg Mystery with Cassandra Mitchell

Mother Love: A Karl Alberg Mystery with Cassandra Mitchell

Laurali R. Wright. Scribner Book Company, $20.5 (299pp) ISBN 978-0-684-19673-2

Edgar winner Wright has crafted another complex psychological study featuring worldly-wise Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg of the Canadian Mounties (last seen in A Touch of Panic). ``Leave the past alone, Maria. The past is past and done with.'' So writes the mother of Maria Buscombe--but she's wrong. A middle-aged housewife and the mother of a 14-year-old girl, Maria lives in a seemingly serene town in British Columbia, content with her life until the past catches up to her in the form of a long-hidden family secret. Wright starts awkwardly, leaving readers to sort through an unnecessarily confusing opening that switches between time periods and characters whose relationships are not made clear until later. Eventually, however, the plot makes its unhurried but sure-footed way to its final, terrible destination, exposing the reasons behind an especially senseless and cruelly timed murder. Modest as ever, Alberg spends much of his time offstage until his insights are needed to explain, among other puzzles, why Maria abandoned her family for seven years. Readers may not be surprised by this beautifully written tale's resolution, but they will very likely be moved by it. (Sept.)