Mitch Tobin

Created by Tucker Coe
Pseudonym of Donald Westlake


MITCH TOBIN‘s soaking in it.

This unlicensed private eye and disgraced ex-cop appeared in five novels by Donald Westlake (under the pen name of Tucker Coe), and together they make up one of the most interesting and varied private eye series of the sixties.

Obsessed and compulsive, all middle-aged Mitch wants to do is hide in his suburban backyard, and work on his beloved garden wall. Which he’s building, brick by brick.

All the better to keep out the memory of world where a NYPD police officer with eighteen years under his belt could be holed up in a hotel room with his mistress–while his partner is shot to death.

Disgraced and summarily dismissed from the NYPD, Tobin retreats to his backyard and starts his wall — a Sisyphean labour if there ever was one. The wall is two feet thick and ten feet high, and Tobin puts everything he has into it, while his wife, perhaps the most forgiving woman in crime fiction, wrings her hands.

But the real world won’t stay away, no matter how high he builds his wall. In need of some sort of income and prompted by his wife, Tobin reluctantly takes on occasional cases.

If the Parker novels showed how fast Donald Westlake could get you to turn pages, and the Dortmunder tales proved Westlake could make you laugh, but it’s the Tobin series that could make you cry.

More than any of Westlake’s other works, the Tucker Coe books are perhaps the ones I treasure the most. They’re beautifully written — haunting, compassionate, brooding examinations of a man slowly rebuilding himself. And, oh yeah, they’re also kick-ass mysteries, full of shuck-and-jive clues, and a couple of the books owe as much to classic locked-room plotting as anything.

Go out, find them and read them. It’s a true crime aren’t more well known– they’re to me one of the truly important P.I. series of the sixties.

Recommended. Highly.



Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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