October 07, 1985 12:00 PM

by L. R. Wright

The setting for this top-notch crime novel is a small town in Canada. The mystery is not who commits the violent murder; that’s vividly revealed in the first horrifying scene. The suspense comes from the reader’s need to know why a nice old man would kill his neighbor, and whether the Royal Canadian Mounted Police staff sergeant will figure out what happened and why. Garden lovers will enjoy especially the important role that flowers, plants and the weather play in this story, and the town of Sechelt is wonderfully alive and convincing. The heroine is a librarian who runs an ad in a lonely-hearts column. It’s answered by the Mountie, but their incipient romance is disrupted by the murder and its investigation. The author, who lives in Vancouver, has written three other novels. The Suspect, with its solid, admirable characters and careful psychological underpinnings, is every bit as good as the novels of British writers Ruth Rendell and P.D. James. In an original, moving ending, the guilt-ridden killer reaches a surprising conclusion about his life, and the reader comes away with far more than is usually offered in this kind of novel. (Viking, $15.95)

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