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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Death of a Sunday Writer

Reviewed: February 5, 2008
By: Eric Wright
Publisher: A Castle Rock Mystery / Dundurn Group
267 pages, $19.95

In his first Lucy Trimble mystery, Eric Wright proves once again that he is one of our great overlooked treasures. This tale of an abused woman who remakes her life and then more or less trips into taking on the legacy of a dead relative she hardly knew isn't heavy reading, but it's delightful.

Lucy Brenner walked away from her controlling husband after a marriage of 23 years, leaving Kingston for the rural town of Longborough where she bought a house, ran a small bed and breakfast operation, and worked at the local library. Two years into this new life, which has been enlivened for her by occasional visits from a mysterious lover, she receives the news that a Toronto cousin she hardly knew has died and named her as his heir.

There’s not much to inherit: a few hundred dollars, a shabby apartment and an office. David Trimble was a fairly unsuccessful private eye who played the horses badly and wanted, it seems, to become a novelist. To settle his affairs, Lucy has to make the big trip to Toronto, hardly more than a commute to anyone who is used to it, but she’s a babe in the woods, and her reactions to the big city are quite understandable.

In the course of cleaning up her cousin’s effects, she becomes convinced that his death was not an accident. While looking into this she takes on a contract case from one of the people she meets during her investigations. Using what are essentially reference librarian’s skills, she solves this case, though her own personal concern leaves her in a bit of muddle.

New situations, new people, and a new love affair all serve to complicate her life, and make the story interesting.

As Trimble the librarian struggles to take on the role of a private eye and to find out what really happened to her dead cousin, Wright paints us a picture of a real person struggling to overcome her conditioning, plagued by insecurities and nevertheless filled with a boundless optimism about a future that she never expected to have.

I happened upon this series (in which there are three novels so far) by accident, while researching some background on Wright for a review of one of his Charlie Salter novels. It's a shame he doesn't have a higher profile, and I often wonder if that isn’t because he’s set his work in Canada, but it's good to see that he's still in the game.

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