Tuesday 11 August 2015


Tucker Coe was one of Donald Westlake's adopted pseudonyms during his writing career. As Coe he published 5 books in a series concerning an ex-cop, Mitch Tobin. Tobin was forced off the police force in disgrace and is now working as an private investigator.

Five books appeared in the late 60s and early 70s. I've read one of them but can't remember which and hopefully I can locate all 5 whilst sorting out my tubs of books. I'd like to read them sequentially one day.

The full series is;
Mitch Tobin (as by Tucker Coe)
1. Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death (1966)
2. Murder Among Children (1967)
3. Wax Apple (1970)
4. A Jade in Aries (1970)
5. Don't Lie to Me (1972)

Westlake also wrote the Parker series of books under the Richard Stark moniker, in addition to the famous and highly regarded John Dortmunder series which was published under his own name.

I'm more of a Parker fan than Dortmunder, though I will be giving the hapless thief a chance to impress me when I tackle some of this series.

Thrilling Detective website has a more detailed piece on the Mitch Tobin series here.

Donald Westlake died in 2008.
Murder Among Children

They were just kids really, too young to have adopted the requisite pretenses of adulthood. But they sensed a new age dawning so they dropped out, left home, and moved to New York City to do their own thing, which happened to be opening a Greenwich Village coffeehouse. All was going well until a cop stopped by with his hand out, and the partners freaked out-one of them remembered she had a cousin who was a former police officer, a certain Mitch Tobin. Tobin was a different kind of dropout; he'd been expelled from the NYPD and middle-aged cynicism had long ago replaced whatever youthful ideals he might have had. Awash in shame and self-pity, Tobin does his thing by building a wall around his house in Queens. Yet when his cousin, Robin Kennely, begs for his help, Tobin reluctantly agrees to take the long subway ride into the city. Arriving at the coffeehouse, Tobin is met with a grisly scene: there's been a double murder-Robin's boyfriend and a nameless prostitute have been brutally knifed. And Robin, covered in blood, is the police's prime suspect.

Wax Apple

The Midway, a halfway house for convalescing mental patients where someone is setting nasty little traps that may prove fatal. It seems simple enough at first, just come as a new patient, be one of twenty-five, and then put it all together, stop the "accidents" and go home. So simple, but...five minutes after arriving Mitch Tobin is tripped at the head of a flight of stairs, leaving him with a broken arm, a headache, and no idea of where to begin. His first two clues aren't helpful, the Director's assistant seems to spend his time antagonizing the patients and one of the patients only appears in the early morning hours...and isn't registered. Then the fire escape collapses and the dirty game becomes murder! Now Tobin is responsible for two deaths and the pressure mounts.


  1. Westlake;s had some really interesting protagonists, Col. I'm glad you've got some of his work as Tucker Coe. As I read the blurb for Wax Apple, I couldn't help thinking what a great context for a murder mystery a halfway house is... Hope you enjoy these.

    1. He was quite versatile as a writer I think. Hard-boiled characters in one series, comedic touches in another and probably everything in-between, I'm looking forward to them all!

  2. I haven't read any of the Tucker Coe novels. I'll have to get round to it sometime. Thanks for the headsup!

    1. John - at least it's a fairly short series, so I'm hoping I'll start-finish before too much more time passes. I hope you can rustle one or two up yourself - I doubt you'll find and locate them as bargain library sale items - they might be a bit too aged for that!

  3. Col, I didn't know Tucker Coe was a pseudonym of Donald E. Westlake, or maybe I don't remember if I did. I have one book by Westlake and it remains unread.

    1. Prashant - time to dust it off soon I reckon - then you can buy some more!

  4. I don't think I have read any Tucker Coe books. I did read quite a few Donald Westlake books when I was much younger, he was a favorite author at the time.

    1. They have maybe been overlooked a bit in favour of his Stark-Parker and Westlake-Dortmunder books.