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.