Tony Cassella

Created by Larry Beinhart

Brooklyn’s TONY CASSELLA has an extremely flexible set of ethics and “half a law degree from Yale” (he dropped out of law school, figuring on a more hands-on occupation).

But there was a hiring freeze in the Police Department at the time, so he opted for the corrections department, where he promptly went undercover. “I knew how to read, write and pass tests, by their standards a shining star. So they made me an investigator.’

Unfortunately, as an investigator he made him a lot of enemies, so he went private, counting on his background in law to help him land clients from the corporate world. Unfortunately, “I didn’t have the right kind of name, the right style or the right kind of look. But once in my life I had been in the right place.”

His partner is an ex-cop, Joey D, and Tony lives with his girlfriend Glenda and her young son Joey. Tony has a strained relationship with his mobbed-up uncle Vincent. Tony’s deceased father and Vincent had been partners but quarrelled and fell out. His father had wanted nothing to do with Vincent and neither does Tony. However unwillingly, Tony sometimes has to ask for Vincent’s help.

In his debut, No One Rides for Free (1986), Tony’s investigation revealed high-level corporate and political corruption that led back to Nazi Germany, money laundering and the drug trade, and also uncovered some unpleasant facts about his own family. In You Only Get What You Pay For (1988) he takes a bet that he can get an original copy of a Prosecutors report into the findings of a grand jury, and ends up tangling with the Attorney General of the United States. Due to the events in that last book, he’s forced to flee the country and ends up married, with child, and running a laundry in the Austrian Alps under an alias in the follow-up, Foreign Exchange (1981). Naturally, trouble has also followed him, and he gets sucked int yet another case of corporate skullduggery and industrial espionage. This final book is more of a a caper novel, rather reminiscent of Ross Thomas.

Except… it wasn’t the final book.

Over forty years (!) later, Tony returned in The Deal Goes Down (2022), back in the States, battered and bruised and out of the shamus game for good (he thinks), a cranky old guy living alone somewhere up in the Catskills, estranged from his daughter, the only family he has left, waiting for the bank to foreclose on his home.

But a fluke hookup with a rich young woman on a train changes everything, and suddenly Tony’s back on the beat–he’s even making money. Maybe. And that’s when the shit really hits the fan.


Larry Beinhart is a novelist, screenwriter and broadcaster. Besides Tony, he’s also created private eye Joe Broz, the private eye hero of American Hero, the satirical novel that became the film Wag the Dog starring Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman, and the author of Salvation Boulevard, featuring born-again gumshoe Carl Van Wagener. He also wrote How to Write a Mystery, a book described by James Ellroy as a “post-post-graduate course in writing great crime fiction.” He was a recipient of the Raymond Chandler-Fulbright fellowship at Oxford, and he has been awarded an Edgar, a Gold Dagger and several film festival awards. He co-created and served as the co-host of In Your Face, a political talk, music and comedy show broadcast over the Dish Satellite Network by Free Speech TV, and has worked for AlJazeera English and the TV news magazine show Empire, while his articles have appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Chicago Tribune.

“I write about politics because it’s the greatest game around and it has the most dead bodies,” he says. “Forget about Hannibal Lector. His numbers pale besides a Bush or a Bin Laden. Or even a Clinton.”


  • “In the page-turning tradition of Elmore Leonard and  the man can really write.”
    — The New York Times on No One Rides for Free

Lawrence Block,NOVELS

Respectfully submitted by Eric Chambers, with an update from Kevin Burton Smith.

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