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In Focus

A Tale of Modern Times

William Dear: The Dungeon Master: The Disappearance of James Dallas Egbert III; Houghton Mufflin; Boston. 

Dallas Egbert was a genius. At the age of 13 he entered Michi­gan State University to study computer science. MSU assured the Egberts that the university would take special care of the brilliant but remarkably imma­ture student. Two years later he disappeared. William Dear, the Texas PI hired to find him, lost no time in discovering how well MSU had protected their young charge. Little Dallas had spent his college years cooking up angel dust in his dorm room and taking an active part in the homosexual community of East Lansing. His most strenuous intellectual pastime was playing Dungeons & Dragons—not just in his head, but in the eight-mile maze of steam tunnels under the MSU campus. 

Dear's investigations were sometimes bizarre. In order to get inside the boy's head, he spent time learning to play Dungeons & Dragons. He even lay down in front of an oncoming train (another one of Dallas's amusements). Unfortunately, the engine had a cowcatcher at­tached, and the PI had to run for his life. More productively, Dear authorized a homosexual inves­tigator to start pressuring the local gay community just to see what would pop (Philip Mar­lowe would have been proud). Eventually Dear retrieved the boy from an oil-field town in Louisiana. His story, when he finally...

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