Vinnie Altobelli

Created by Milton Bass

After a massive heart attack levels him, San Bernadino cop VINCENT “VINNIE” ALTOBELLI is forced to retire, and is left “walking on eggshells — afraid of over-exertion, sex and spaghetti” in the 1993 paperback original, The Half-Hearted Detective.

So what’s a guy to do? Apparently the obvious, non-stressful thing — he goes to work for a mob boss to investigate who’s trying to kill him.

Yep. Sounds like like nice, relaxing work.

There was a sequel, The Broken-Hearted Detective, that came out the next year, but the general consensus is that these books were pretty lame. I read both of them, and while I didn’t hate them, I never bothered looking for the third — which, it turned out, didn’t exist. As I recall, they were pretty generic, although The Half-Hearted Detective was nominated for a Shamus for Best Paperback Original.

Milton Bass (sometimes Milton R. Bass) was born in and raised in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and a master’s in English from Smith College in 1948. During World War II, he served in the army as a medic. After the war, he became a columnist and entertainer editor for the Berkshire Eagle. He’s probably “best known for his quartet of books back in the mid-to-late ’80s about a cop named Benny Freedman.


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with a special thank you to Big Phil for (finally) setting the record straight!

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