Matt Cobb

Created by William L. DeAndrea (1952-1996)

They call him the "Vice-President in Charge of Special Projects" for a major American television network (only referred to as "the Network"), but what MATT COBB really does is act as a good old-fashioned troubleshooter, a sorta hired gun in a three-piece suit.

"'Special Projects' is the title some nameless propaganda genius gave years ago to the part of the Network that would handle everything too nasty for the Legal Department," as he explained in Killed on the Rocks (1990), "and too sensitive for Public Relations... I'd never lusted after the job, and sometimes I didn't want it now, but I had it, and I did the best I could. I tried to keep things as legal as necessary and as moral as possible."

So... a private eye by circumstance, not design, if you will -- not unlike Spencer Dean's department store security chief Don Cadee or Stewart Sterling's hotel detective Gil Vine.

Anway, whatever his official job title is, Matt often becomes involved in various sorts of nastiness. And the world of television (Surprise! Surprise!) can be very nasty indeed -- even if the tone of the stories is more akin to that of traditional mysteries than the hard-boiled school. Fortunately, the slyly subversive wit and all-round contrariness of the author keeps things bubbling along.

In fact, DeAndrea's first book, Killed in the Ratings (1978), which introduced Cobb, won an Edgar Award in the best first mystery novel category.

DeAndrea's other series included the Nero Wolfe-inspired Niccolo Benedetti novels, the Clifford Driscoll espionage series, and the Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker mysteries set in the Old West. He also wrote "J'accuse," a popular column for The Armchair Detective, and won another Edgar for Encyclopedia Mysteriosa (1994), an indispensible reference guide to crime fiction in books, film, radio, and TV that this site still uses regularly.

DeAndrea was born in Port Chester, New York, and met his future wife, mystery author Jane Haddam, while he was working at the Murder Ink bookstore in New York City.

SAPPY PERSONAL NOTE

  • DeAndrea was one of the good ones; a savvy and clever writer and a larger-than-life character who suffered no fool gladly and rarely considered any wisdom "conventional." I probably loved his columns and non-fiction writing even more than I loved his fiction. I didn't always agree with his opinions (who did?) but he always was more than willing to back them up when challenged. I had the fortune of meeting the man himself at my very first Bouchercon, and he proved to be as big a hoot in real life as he was on the printed page.
    He died far too young -- he was only 44 -- just as the internet started to seep into the public's consciousness. Too bad -- I would have loved to see him rip through the web. His blog would have been essential reading

NOVELS

SHORT STORIES

  • "Snowy Reception" (June 1979, AHMM)
  • "Killed Top to Bottom" (Winter 1991, The Armchair Detective)
  • "Killed in Midstream" (1992, Cat Crimes III)
  • "Killed in Good Company" (1998, Private Eyes)

COLLECTIONS

  • Murder-All Kinds (1997 )

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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