Title: The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III
Author: William Dear
Publisher: Ballantine Books 1990
Genre: Crime, Suspense

Private investigators rarely end up on cross-country searches that engulf their lives but when William Dear was hired to find James Dallas Egbert III, he did just that. The Dungeon Master is the true story of William Dear’s search.

James disappeared from Michigan State University in 1979. At the time, James was 16 and a genius in his own right. After James was declared a missing person, private investigator William Dear was hired to find him. Mr. Dear’s search engulfed him to understand Dungeons and Dragons and required the most careful investigation techniques into missing persons. The story that inspired a horde of urban legends regarding the dangers of role-playing games is told here with the facts from the front lines.

William Dear writes with great compassion and detail that a reader has no choice but to feel utter empathy for both the investigator and the lost boy. The story, in its details, does skew slightly to persuade the reader against Dungeons & Dragons. However, regardless of any viewpoint the reader will feel immersed in the private investigative world and life. The book is rich with particulars of investigative techniques, retold interviews, and vivid imagery where the facts lie in the details. William takes the reader through the story from the basic interview at MSU to the underground searches to his cross-country trails. The entire time the reader cannot help but feel some sort of emotional attachment and finds themselves asking: who is the main character? Who is it that I am more connected with? Who am I worried about? James? Or Dear?

Overall the book reads quite smoothly and is vivid in all of its descriptions without resorting to pretentious word choices (irony). It was a long read at a young adult age and still an excellent read in college. While the story is out of date, 1979, the plot still rings true. The ending leaves something to be desired only because Dear, at the time of writing, did not want to expand on an epilogue. Fortunately, being a true story, the facts are available widely on the Internet and even on that crazy database E2. Take time for this book if you enjoy suspense and crave something unique or, if like me, you simply love a true-life tale. The Dungeon Master certainly stands in its own category.



This book noded as a contribution to The Bookworm Turns: An Everything Literary Quest.

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