Kinds Of Love, Kinds Of Death Paperback – Jul 2001
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Penzler Pick, November 2000: Donald E. Westlake alone in a room is practically an entire writers' conference. Under his own name he's known mainly for his twisty--some would say twisted--comic thrillers that have a wisecracking flavor all their own. As Westlake, too, he is the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Grifters, a take-no-prisoners masterpiece of film noir and the man responsible for the best-selling, blackly satiric novel The Ax. But at other moments in his career, he has been Richard Stark, Timothy J. Culver, Tucker Coe, and Curt Clark (this last a short- lived pseudonym used for a single science fiction title).
The "Coe" face of Westlake--his coe-conspirator, one might say--has finally been reissued, and Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death, the first Tucker Coe book, will please those fans eager to make the acquaintance of a favorite writer's older work. Originally published in 1966, Kinds of Love introduces Mitch Tobin, a former New York cop whose selfishness has helped cause the death of his partner and his own subsequent departure in disgrace from the force. Now at home in Queens, unemployed and unable to forgive himself, he remains determined to keep on turning that psycho-spiritual knife upon which he's impaled himself.
In a new introduction, Westlake explains how the self-tormenting character of Tobin came to be: "Since I was never content to just ride the road already traveled, but always wanted to twist the concept or embellish it or alter it somehow, this time the idea was that the detective was reluctant to be a detective, because he had serious problems of his own that consumed all his attention." Even given the reality of his despair, the traumatized Mitch continues to regard himself as "an honest man and a responsible citizen." Take it or leave it, he tells the syndicate crime boss who's hoping to hire him, convinced that this dishonored but still savvy one-time cop can discover who in his organization has brutally murdered his mistress. Accepting $5,000 for the job but refusing to keep the fact of his employment a secret from anyone who might think to ask, Mitch thus begins his new life as a private operative.
There are five Mitch Tobin novels in all; "Tucker Coe" stopped writing in 1972. Yet the books he created were both spare and unsparing, in the best 21st century tradition, and so mystery readers can be grateful to have them available once again. --Otto Penzler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Donald E. Westlake is a three-time Edgar winner and the recipient of the Grandmaster award. He is the author of more than 40 novels, including The Hook. He lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Back when I was young, I thought Mitch Tobin, the ex-cop who was drowning in guilt over his partner’s death while cheating on his wife, was one of the best characters I’d ever read. Back then, I’d believed he had all the misery coming to him that he was dealing with, didn’t understand why his wife stood by him, but was still fascinated by how his mind worked. And by the way he was building his WALL.
Now, thirty years later, the five-book series is back in print and in ebook. I bought the ebook editions and have been devouring them. Now I look at Mitch and wish he’d just get over it and get his act together. People make mistakes, and you have no choice but to go on living.
But I still find him fascinating.
Kinds of Love, Kinds of Death is a great piece that hooks the reader in the first chapter with Mitch’s guilt and responsibility to his family during a time when he feels like all he can do is wallow in his own failures. We don’t even learn everything about him at that point, but we know and understand why he takes a job working for an organized crime figure.
The mystery is pretty straightforward, with a couple of red herrings and some sleight trickery, but all the clues are there and I figured it out before I got to the end. I can’t remember if I figured it out the first time I read it or not. I have a great memory for books that I have read, but not necessarily the plots. Many of the plots, after all, are pretty much the same. I read for the experience.
I loved being in Mitch’s shoes this go-around when I remember I was only curious the first time I read the book. I understand Mitch in so many different ways, how he clings to the shreds of his honor and professionalism and defends himself against hope. One of the things that I find most interesting about the book is how timeless it is. Sure, people are using phone booths on the corner instead of cell phones, but Mitch is working through an economic slump that everyone these days is familiar with. If anything, the book – though it was written in 1966 – still feels like today. Some of the later books date themselves through counter-culture references, but not this one.
The mystery is solid and entertaining, and there are a lot of hands stirring the pot, but the book offers a character who’s consciously staving off redemption and trying to reject the world. This is a good book done well, with some deep introspection along the way.
Crime boss Ernie Rembeck turns up and asks Mitch to investigate the murder of his mistress. He explains that he would like an ex cop to do the investigation and feels that the murderer is someone inside his crime syndicate. Mitch is reluctant to work for a crime boss, but does take on the job for the large sum of money promised to solve the case.
While certain factors date the novel, such as comparatively small amounts of money that are stated as large, it is still good Westlake and holds the reader's interest during Mitch's investigation. All told there were five Mitch Tobin novels written and look like they will be reprinted and offered to today's readers. If like this one, which was the first Tobin book they will be well worth the read and take the reader into the era of the 1960 s.
Mitchell Tobin, a disgraced and now former New York City policeman, is hired by one of the local crime chiefs to discover the killer of his mistress. Suddenly working for someone on the other side of the law,
Tobin has to decide if he should take the case - his family needs the money and he hasn't been working - or let it go. But taking the case has its own perils, as his office is bombed and his family flees to a safer house.
You will never be disappointed with a Donald Westlake mystery, and if you haven't read him, why not start with this one?