There are painfully few writers today specializing in the kind of locked room/impossible crime stories that were the special province of Golden Age writers such as John Dickson Carr. So it's a real pleasure to discover Hal White and his excellent detective, the Rev. Thaddeus Dean. Reverend Dean, an octogenarian recently retired as the pastor of his small church, has developed a knack for solving impossible crimes.
In The Mysteries of Reverend Dean, we are treated to a half dozen examples. Among the cases:
--The murders of three people, all in isolated areas with no footprints near any of the bodies;
--A woman stabbed to death inside a locked and sealed room with witnesses to swear nobody entered or left the room - and her own guard dog protecting her;
--a body that mysteriously appears inside a locked (and watched) garage.
These are classic puzzle mysteries, fairly presented and clued. White uses the accepted norms of locked room fiction quite cleverly. White is quite clearly familiar enough with all the ins and outs of impossible crime mysteries to bring a fresh perspective to some of the admittedly limited ways that such crimes can be carried out, and he manages to keep us guessing all the way.
In the Reverend Dean, White has given us a very appealing character. Some of the best fictional detectives have been clerics - think of Chesterton's Father Brown, Kemelman's Rabbi Small or Andrew Greeley's "Blackie" Ryan, to name just three. There is a strong underpinning of Christian theology in The Mysteries of Reverend Dean, though White never allows it to get in the way of the story - in fact, it often becomes part of the story. But the solutions to the Reverend Dean's mysteries never rely on the supernatural - they are all the work of very human murderers.
If you enjoy locked room/impossible crime stories, you really should meet the Reverend Dean. Click on the Amazon link above to find out more. I do hope we'll be seeing more of him in future books by Hal White, whose website is at http://www.halwhitebooks.com/