A Review by MIKE TOONEY:

HAL WHITE – The Mysteries of Reverend Dean. Lighthouse Christian Publishing; trade paperback; story collection; 2008.

HAL WHITE Mysteries of Reverend Dean.

    There is a long and illustrious list of clerical detectives in mystery fiction. The first one to come to mind is usually G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown; indeed, like Brown, most of the memorable clerical sleuths have been British.

    In America there have been fewer men (and women) of the cloth who involve themselves in criminal investigations: Melville Davisson Post’s Uncle Abner is the outstanding example of one who did on this side of the Pond.

    On occasion Abner would tackle what is commonly called today “impossible crime” (or, more specifically, “locked-room”) problems of the kind that sometimes bedeviled Father Brown. Neither Brown nor Abner, however, spent more than a fraction of their time on such conundrums.

    But now we come to one clerical sleuth who EXCLUSIVELY devotes his time to solving locked-room crimes: Hal White’s Reverend Dean. This clergyman never actively seeks out such perplexing problems; his principal concern is always in saving souls. Yet somehow Reverend Dean becomes embroiled in these things with amazing regularity.

    Patience is counted as a Christian virtue, and the reverend has it in abundance; indeed, without patience he couldn’t solve any of the problems with which he is confronted.

HAL WHITE Mysteries of Reverend Dean.

    Strictly speaking, intelligence may not be exclusively another Christian virtue, but Dean also has it in abundance: You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but this modest, self-effacing man’s “little grey cells” are constantly working ratiocinative miracles inside his skull.

    Take, for instance, how he solves the conundrum of a woman stabbed to death in a room with locked windows, a triply-locked door, protected by a guard dog, and under observation by three witnesses.

    Or consider the woman who, if the evidence is to be believed, can walk through solid walls and shoot at someone while suspended in space. Or how about … but you should really read The Mysteries of Reverend Dean yourself.

    You won’t be disappointed.


    A website devoted to other clerical detectives is at:


   Hal White’s webpage, which focuses on his book ‘The Mysteries of Reverend Dean’ and other locked-room mystery anthologies, can be found at: