William L. DeAndrea Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Before his early death from a blood infection after a tumor on his appendix had been misdiagnosed, William L. DeAndrea emerged as one of the most prominent of the hip new writers of classic-style detective works and was among the heirs apparent to Ellery Queen, Agatha Christie, and Rex Stout. DeAndrea’s defining detective, the highly literate Matt Cobb, often draws on his familiarity with the classic detective canon in a kind of postmodern self-reflexivity that gives the series its wry comic feel. That Matt Cobb works in television adds to DeAndrea’s unsettling sense of how appearances deceive and how truth is often an easily spun commodity.

DeAndrea’s interest is not in the psychological exploration of criminals but rather in the intricacies of a well-plotted detection exercise. His master detectives operate through painstaking analysis until, in a moment of inspiration, they see the solution. DeAndrea provides a collection of clues that allows the diligent reader to share in the pursuit of the solution. The reader must consider numerous possible killers, second-guess the inevitable false arrests, and gather the slenderest clues dropped at the most casual moments. Typically, DeAndrea orchestrates a closing scene that gathers the suspects for a classic drawing-room revelation of the real killer, most often the least suspected among the ensemble.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Carter, Robert A. Review of Written in Fire, by William L. DeAndrea. Houston Chronicle, July 7, 1996, p. Z31. A favorable review of the first book in the Lobo and Blacke series.

DeAndrea, William L. Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1994. An invaluable one-volume compendium, written without scholarly pretense, that helps sort through DeAndrea’s own arcane allusions to Golden Age texts.

Library Journal. Review of Killed in the Ratings, by William L. DeAndrea. 103, no. 9 (May 1, 1978): 998. A contemporary review of the first in the Matt Cobb series.

Priestman, Martin, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Illuminating essays that explicate the intricacies of constructing a mystery.

Van Dover, J. Kenneth. At Wolfe’s Door: The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout. San Bernardino, Calif.: Borgo Press, 1991. Accessible guide to the series that influenced DeAndrea.