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Hal White Locked Room Titles


hal whiteAlthough Hal lived in several states as a child, he has spent most of his adult life in Washington state. He’s married to a wonderful woman who’s also his best friend.

Hal was admitted to practice law in Washington in 1984, and edited the Washington State Bar News, the official publication of the Washington State Bar Association, from 1995 to 1997. His interest in legal editing led to an interest in writing in general, which ultimately led to his first published book, The Mysteries of Reverend Dean.

He loves football, reading and, yes, the rain.

Edited from halwhite.com

The Reverend Thaddeus Dean is 80 years old, a short pudgy man who is almost bald. He recently retired as pastor of the Outpost Community Church in Dark Pine, a small community at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, two hours away from Seattle. Dean is desperately lonely, church mouse poor and misses his wife, the beloved Emma, who died three years earlier. The Reverend is a “night owl”, always awake until the early hours, and seldom arising before 10 AM. However, his mind is just as sharp as ever, allowing him to observe things others miss and solve all those impossible crimes that keep coming his way! 

Notes: Unfortunately Hal White has published only the one volume of Reverend Dean stories, a second would be most welcome! Most readers of this collection will soon realize that Hal was still learning his craft when the first of these stories were written, which has resulted in a couple of the early tales having a few imperfections! However, do not give up on Reverend Dean, the stories soon get much better!

I quite enjoyed this collection, though I must ultimately agree with Patrick from At The Scene of The Crime “Overall, I enjoyed The Reverend Dean Mysteries. While far from perfect, it did something right, because I was entertained throughout. Don’t expect a reincarnation of John Dickson Carr, and you probably will enjoy it as well.” Yet, in this volume we have only six tentative early short stories! I really do believe that with a little more exercise, Reverend Dean could become quite an important addition to the genre!


Hal White Locked Room Short Stories


reverend deanMurder at an Island Mansion
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: Three ‘no footprint’ murders!

Three siblings are murdered in very quick succession and the killer leaves no footprints at the scene. First on a beach, then a freshly painted floor, and finally in a muddy pond. An inheritance is at stake and Reverend Dean is the only one who can decipher the complicated clues.

Putting this story first was clearly a bad editorial decision! This was obviously Hal White’s first story – and it really shows! This one is way over the top, with two many murders in too little space, an emotional teenage girl whose dialogue does not ring true, and a hurried quality which spoiled my enjoyment of the story. The solution may be feasible, in theory, though it is clearly over complicated and too far fetched. In addition, Reverend Dean’s use of the phrase “my child” 16 times in this very short story nearly drove me to toss the book aside. I can’t help but wonder how many readers got no further!  It really is too bad this story comes first, because the others are far better and it would be a shame to miss this great collection!


reverend deanMurder from the Fourth Floor
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: An intriguing problem!

A man is shot in plain view of a police officer. The bullet trajectory leads to the locked apartment of the man’s estranged wife. Only problem is, she has gone missing, even though she could not have left without being seen by witnesses!

Far, far better than the opening story! This is quite a well crafted impossible crime story, with nearly every angle covered. Not sure you could really get away with this is in broad daylight, but the solution is extremely imaginative and, as far as I know, quite original. It still stretches the readers credulity a little too far – but that just seems to be part of what makes these Reverend Dean stories such fun to read!


reverend deanMurder on a Caribbean Cruise
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: A nice cruise with a great buffet – followed by murder!

Four long acquainted ‘singles’ take a cruise with Reverend Dean, who has just been given a free voyage. Then one of the men is thrown overboard by a disguised assailant, one of the women is punched in the face, and the other is found hanged inside a locked cabin.

Another good yarn, and very amusing (especially the trip to Hell), with a slightly too incredible plot, but this one seems to also have a bit of a timing problem in the final solution. Still, this is a fairly well thought out story, that shows how well White can write impossible crimes!


reverend deanMurder at the Lord’s Table
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: Jesus appears in church! Was he amused?

Following a series of biblical warnings, including a visit from Jesus and an angel, a local pastor suddenly dies in full view of his congregation.

One of the better stories in this collection – though Patrick at At the Scene of The Crime clearly disagrees! This is really quite a good impossible crime story – even if it is not very original or hard to crack! Short, nothing too incredulous, not too much action, and a completely believable solution – who could ask for anything more!


reverend deanMurder in a Sealed Loft
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: A classic locked room story!

A woman is stabbed to death behind a triple-locked door sealed from within.  Murder in a Sealed Loft offers the reader two competing solutions to the puzzle – one by Detective Small, the other by Thaddeus Dean – before finally providing a final solution.

Another fairly good story, but with a couple of small problems in the solution. Do some windows automatically lock when closed from outside? And that hiding place is rather small! Perhaps I am being to picky? Otherwise, quite a good tale – and well worth the read!


reverend deanMurder at the Fall Festival
Detective: Reverend Dean

Collection: The Mysteries of Reverend Dean

 

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Note: A good alibi is a must!

The victim is found suffocated in his own garage!  The garage is not only locked, but there are witnesses in full view of the door. The method of the crime is soon made apparent, but busting the killer’s alibi is not so easy. Includes a fairly good discussion on the post mortem forensic procedure used to establish time of death.

Another candidate for best story in this collection – though I am not sure it would so easily fool a real Medical Examiner! Still, once more, a very inventive locked room story, and, as far as I know, another quite original plot device!


Complete Hal White Bibliography


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