Pete Fortunato

Created by Charles Salzberg

“Nobody gets away with anything on my watch.”

Baseball-loving PETE FORTUNATO was a working class kid, half-Italian and half-Jewish, with a decent enough curveball and just enough of a fastball to earn a scholarship at a small upstate New York college before his arm gave out. He managed to hang on to his scholarship long enough to graduate, but bounced around from job to job (dog walker, shoe salesman, waiter, cop, etc.), finally ending up a New York City private eye with an office (well, a desk he rents from a pal) in Greenwich Village.

Well into his mid-forties, he scrapes by, still pugnacious and more than a little hot-tempered. He’s no prizewinner—he’s actually a bit of a jerk at times. He admits to being lazy and easily bored, and could probably do with a few anger management classes, not to mention cutting back on his drinking. He also cops to being cynical and paranoid, but hey, who isn’t?

Still, he (mostly) gets the job done, and his snarky, elbows-out first-person narration is a hoot.

“I’d like to say I’m choosy about the kinds of cases I take, but that would be a lie,” he admits, and that’s what keeps Pete’s debut, 2022’s Canary in a Coal Mine bopping, as the rough-and-tumble eye takes on a dubious dame, a missing husband, bouncing cheques, a lot of missing dough, and some not-so-friendly Albanian gangsters.

Not sure if Salzberg plans to make this into a series, but I wouldn’t mind.


Novelist, journalist and writing instructor Charles Salzberg is no stranger to private eyes. He’s the Shamus-nominated author of the Henry Swann P.I. series, and has written several non-fiction books involving sports, including On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place: Baseball’s 10 Worst Teams of the Century and From Set Shot to Slam Dunk: An Oral History of the NBA; and the co-author of Soupy Sales’ My Zany Life and Times. His freelance work has appeared in such publications as Esquire, New York Magazine, GQ, Elle, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, The New York Times Arts and Leisure section, The New York Times Book Review, and the Los Angeles Times Book Review.


  • “Salzberg has hit it out of the park…“
    — Tom Straw
  • “Peter Fortunato is an old school PI to reckon with.”
    — Sam Wiebe



  • May 31, 2023
    The Bottom Line: This baseball-loving, elbows-out Big Apple eye scrapes by, taking on dubious dames and Albanian thugs in an impressive debut. More, please.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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