A 1001 MIDNIGHTS Review
by Julie Smith


WILLIAM L. DeANDREA – The Hog Murders. Niccolo Benedetti #1. Avon, paperback original, 1979. Intl Polygonics Ltd, paperback, 1999.

   DeAndrea’s second Edgar-winner is a wonderfully old-fashioned puzzle mystery, complete with serial killer and a master detective reminiscent of Nero Wolfe or even the great Holmes himself. The eccentric but brilliant Professor Niccolo Benedetti is assisted by his pupil, Ron Gentry, a young private eye based in snowy Sparta, New York.

   Sparta is being terrorized by a homicidal maniac who, in the tradition of serial killers, writes notes to a local journalist, in this case likable Buell Tatham. He signs himself “Hog,” and the cover of this paperback is a particularly arresting one, showing a stocky man’s upper body topped by the monstrous head of a pig. Hog’s methods are as clever as they’re diabolical; his victims are random and almost invariably innocent — even a child is killed. But Benedetti, of course, is a little too quick for him.

   The solution is truly unexpected, yet really as obvious as who killed Roger Ackroyd; in other words, the reader is fooled but could kick himself for it. Bonuses are the trademark DeAndrea wit and the withholding of the complete solution until the very last sentence.

   In addition to his mysteries, DeAndrea has published a number of non-series suspense novels, including The Lunatic Fringe (1980), which is set in New York City during the Gay Nineties; and Cronus ( 1984), a thriller about an apparent terrorist killing in the sleepy town of Draper, Pennsylvania. DeAndrea has also published one novel to date under the pseudonym Philip Degrave, Unholy Moses (1985).

Reprinted with permission from 1001 Midnights, edited by Bill Pronzini & Marcia Muller and published by The Battered Silicon Dispatch Box, 2007.   Copyright © 1986, 2007 by the Pronzini-Muller Family Trust.

      The Niccolo Benedetti series

The Hog Murders. Avon 1979
The Werewolf Murders. Doubleday 1992
The Manx Murders. Penzler 1994