Qualicum Beach resident Sydney Preston holds her first book, a murder mystery set in her own version of Qualicum Beach where the police have many suspects in a recent homicide of a no-good developer, but circumstances lead the detectives in a different direction. — Adam Kveton Photo

Qualicum Beach resident Sydney Preston holds her first book, a murder mystery set in her own version of Qualicum Beach where the police have many suspects in a recent homicide of a no-good developer, but circumstances lead the detectives in a different direction. — Adam Kveton Photo

Murder mystery locale inspired by Qualicum Beach

Resident pens first book in planned Britannia Bay Mystery series

Imagining a motive for killing Max Berdahl is a pretty simple task, but finding his killer is far more difficult.

At least that’s the case in Qualicum Beach resident and first-time author Sydney Preston’s first murder mystery, Too Late for Redemption.

Preston has imagined a pretty despicable character in Berdahl, the victim in her novel. But having a victim you don’t care too much about and a sympathetic murderer is one of the features Preston plans to continue through the other two books she’s got planned for her Britannia Bay Mystery series.

“I want the victim to sort of deserve it,” said Preston with a chuckle. Though she’s pretty new to the murder mystery genre, having begun reading books like them in the last few years, she said she’s taken to it with gusto, finding some real-life inspiration for her first book, and enjoying the writing, even dark as it can get.

“I tried other genres, and they just didn’t inspire me,” she said.

A writer since she was a child, Preston said she’s long wanted to write a book, but hadn’t found time until retiring.

But now, she’s preparing to launch her first book on June 22 at 2 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach library.

The story takes place in a version of Qualicum Beach called Britannia Bay, said Preston.

Having moved to the area in 2014, Preston said, “I found Qualicum Beach really a fascinating little town… people are going to recognize places.”

The story itself features two detectives charged with solving the first homicide in the island community (that of a shady developer who forces an ageing widow off her land), and at first they have no lack of suspects. But a series of coincidences leads to another suspect.

“There are many people who want (Berdahl) dead, and when they hear that he’s dead, nobody regrets it except his family, of course. It’s sort of a character study, really.”

Another feature of Preston’s book, and planned for her future Britannia Bay Mystery books as well, is that the name of the victim or the perpetrator is an anagram that explains their motive or fate. This is built into Too Late for Redemption as well, as one of the detectives and his wife do cryptic crosswords.

Preston is hoping that readers will send in their anagram guesses to her via her website, sydneypreston.com. At the website, she also plans to add background information about her characters.

“I just want them (readers) to have fun,” said Preston in describing her hopes for her book. “It’s light reading… but they’ll learn something, too.”

Currently, Preston’s book is available for order through her website, sydneypreston.com.

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