The Mysteries of Reverend Dean
A Reverend Dean Short Story Collection by Hal White
Review: Hal White introduces Reverend Dean, the retired pastor of a small community church in the foothills of Washington's Cascade Mountains, in a collection of six short stories, The Mysteries of Reverend Dean.
Each of the stories features either a locked room or other impossible crime mystery and range in length from about 30 to 50 pages. All the mysteries involve the solution to a murder and for their relative brevity, are surprisingly intricate in both the setup of the crime and the steps taken by Reverend Dean to solve it. As the stories progress, the character of Reverend Dean continues to develop in depth and complexity; by the end, he's like an old friend of the family. Though four of the stories take place locally, two are set in other places: a solitary mansion on a private island, and aboard a cruise ship sailing the Caribbean. These latter two are among the most interesting and memorable, possibly because the venue adds its own sense of isolation, contributing to the impossibility of the crime being committed (and solved).
Fans of impossible crime stories will be pleased and delighted with those presented in The Mysteries of Reverend Dean. It is so important to "play fair" in plots of this sort, even more so than in other typical mysteries, and the author does just that. All the clues are available to the reader and the solutions can, in retrospect, be reasoned out just as Reverend Dean does. The only advantage the pastor holds in some of the stories is a long-held knowledge of either the suspect or the victim that he uses to determine a motive, always helpful in solving a crime. That some of the solutions seem a bit far-fetched is perfectly acceptable since they never cross over the line into implausibility.
A second volume of impossible crime stories featuring Reverend Dean would be most welcome. As a suggestion to the author, adding non-murder mysteries would, as was accomplished with a change in locale for two of the stories in this book, provide additional variety and interest for readers.
Acknowledgment: Hal White provided a copy of The Mysteries of Reverend Dean for this review.
Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Mysteries of Reverend Dean: Washington State
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The Mysteries of Reverend Dean by Hal White — A Reverend Dean Short Story Collection
Publisher: Lighthouse Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: May 2008
List Price: $14.95