The Werewolf Murders

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Niccolo Benedetti is a philosopher studying the nature of human evil. This study and his brilliance in solving crimes have drawn him into high-profile mysteries in the past. Benedetti insists that he is not a detective, and sets his fees high enough so that the few cases that he deigns to take on support him and his two assistants more than comfortably.

This time, the mystery involves the killing of one scientist and an attack on another at an international scientific conference at a ski resort in the French Alps. Baron Pierre Benac, an extremely wealthy businessman, has assembled some of the world’s greatest scientists for a year of study at the resort. When the attacks threaten the future of his conference, he calls in Benedetti. Soon after Benedetti decides to study the case, the prefect of police is found dead, with his throat torn out in the same manner as the murdered scientist.

Benedetti and his assistants are faced with few clues and a group of scientists who are not quite convinced that the murders are not the work of a werewolf. They perform little detective work, other than interviewing suspects and witnesses. Instead, events continue to unfold, revealing the personalities of the main characters and delivering clues to the detective team. These personalities, especially the cross-national rivalries, are the main attraction of this book, providing generous amounts of humor. THE WEREWOLF MURDERS is almost as much a comedy as a mystery.

DeAndrea presents the genius Benedetti and his protege, Ron Gentry, in a witty manner similar to that used by Rex Stout for his characters of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Readers are convinced of Benedetti’s brilliance by other characters’ testimony, rather than by any outward displays. Benedetti exhibits some eccentricities, such as working on abstract paintings while solving mysteries, making his intelligence easier to believe. At the novel’s climax, Benedetti brings all those involved together to reveal the killer in a fashion typical of master-sleuth mysteries, only then showing the power of his deductive reasoning.