Where in Canada: The Last Unsuitable Man

This edition of Where in Canada takes us to BC’s Sunshine Coast, where, despite its sunny name, it serves as a misty, suspenseful backdrop for Louise Carson’s latest mystery, The Last Unsuitable Man (Signature Editions). Below, Carson talks about how setting can complement – and even drive – a mystery narrative, and why she loves the Coast so much.


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Brooding rainy days. Primeval rain forests. Fabulous sunsets. Starry nights. And always the sound of the sea. Where are we? Why, on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, a peninsula locked between mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west, accessible only by ferry or plane. Where author Louise Carson chose to set her seventh mystery – The Last Unsuitable Man – featuring as the main character – what else? – a mystery writer on vacation.

“Well,” Carson explains, from her bungalow in the Quebec countryside, “I have family there so have visited the Coast four or five times in the last twenty years. I just love it. You take a mud and stone track down to the house. You can see and hear the ocean right away. There’s a small cove with a little island in it and on the island is a tiny hut. So during my most recent visit a few years ago, I got the idea that this specific site would be a great one for a dark mystery.”

Carson usually writes cozies (The Cat Among Us, The Cat Vanishes, The Cat Between, The Cat Possessed and A Clutter of Cats) though her first mystery, the stand-alone Executor, explored the horrors of live organ harvesting from prisoners in China and the organ ‘tourist’ industry between China and Canada.

The Last Unsuitable Man is about transitioning from a safe to an unsafe place, so I began writing it as a cozy, even included some humour. But as the action first slowed then sped up, and more than one character began unravelling, I let the atmosphere, the scenery, become a more important part of the story.

“One example is in a scene where the main character, Claire, literally walks through a mist sparkling in sunlight to a shadier location, where a series of events unfold that indicate a seriously disturbed character is nearby.

Photo by Flickr user VinceTraveller, used under a Creative Commons license. 

“Claire loves sitting on a rocky promontory that curves out from the beach into the cove, and which is completely covered in water at high tide. From there she observes seals, various seabirds, and deer coming down out of the forest to drink the brackish water of a stream. But this is also where she’s sitting when the local police arrive to search the house where she’s staying. Her safe perch in the natural world has now become exposed to more than one type of menace.”

Perhaps not an ideal vacation for Claire, but Carson turns British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast into a stunning setting for her cast of memorable if creepy characters in The Last Unsuitable Man, a slow-burn thriller filled with twists that no one – least of all the victim – will see coming.

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Louise Carson is an author and musician from St-Lazare, Quebec. She studied music in Montreal and Toronto, played jazz piano and sang in the chorus of the Canadian Opera Company. Carson has published fourteen books, is a three-time finalist for FreeFall Magazine‘s writing contest, won a Manitoba Magazine Award, and her novel, In Which, was a QWF award finalist.

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For more Where in Canada, click here. (And to visit the Sunshine Coast as a backdrop to read a book like Andrea Routley’s This Unlikely Soil, click here.)