Mitch Tobin

Created by Tucker Coe (pseud. of Donald Westlake)


He's soaking in it.

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

Obsessed and compulsive, all Mitch wants to do is hide in his suburban backyard and work on his wall, which he's building, brick by brick.

All the better to keep out a world where a police officer with 18 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 his other works, the Tucker Coe books are 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.

Go out, find them and read them. It's a true crime they all seem to be out of print. Recommended. Highly.



The official Donald Westlake web site contains a semi-complete bibliography, a biography and, best of all, a Dortmunder short story from 1986. Enjoy!

From Italy comes Giovanni Resta's excellent and impressivley comprehensive bibliographical checklist of Westlake's work, which also includes short stories and some miscellanea. Giovanni's also refreshingly honest: "Despite the efforts, I have no delusion of I'd be grateful to receive any corrections or additions. Especially if you can help me locating that short story I still badly lack...)

Overview by Bryan Schingle.

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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