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A Donald Westlake series (although he used the Pen Name Tucker Coe at the time) following Mitch Tobin, a disgraced NYPD officer and Defective Detective. Tobin was fired from the NYPD after his partner die during an arrest when Tobin wasn't there to watch his back due to having snuck off to have an affair. Tobin is a detective with no interest in being a detective, who (for most of the series) takes jobs just for the funds to remain isolated from a world that floods him with painful reminders and self-loathing. Each novel but the last one features Tobin's investigation bringing him into contact with a sub-culture of some kind (mafia members, flower children, mental patients and the gay community).

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Tropes:

  • Affably Evil: Most of the mobsters from the first book, paticualry Ernie Rembek, who has a dangerous reputation but spends most of the story as a soft-spoken, cordial figure in mourning over his murdered mistress.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Bruce in the fourth book, who hotly denies that he's gay despite having had sex with men and threatens anyone who he this will tell his mother.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Ernie Rembek's brother in-law Frank Donner is a trusted crony of his and member of his crime syndicate.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All of the books end with the case solved, but little real sense of anyones lives being improved or magically fixed by Tobin's efforts, with some people still dead, others still hurting, painful truths having been unravelled and (for the first three books) Tobin having made no Character Development and still wanting to retreat from the world.
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  • Camp Gay: Both played straight and averted in the fourth book, which features different kinds of Camp Gay and Straight Gay characters.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In the first book the police record of Frank Donner includes forgery and arson, with him having forged a note from Rembek's girlfriend saying that she was cheating on him and had stolen his money, as well as blowing up Tobin's office with a firebomb.
  • Clear My Name: Most of the second book has Tobin trying to prove a double-murder wasn't committed by his hippie second cousin. The last act of the fourth book also has him trying to prove the police have the wrong man (although in that case he's already figured out who the right one is).
  • Defective Detective: Tobin, given his avoidant personality disorder and guilt complex.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr. Fredericks from the third book is a psychiatrist version. He's an aggravating man more obsessed with proving his theories than actually helping the patients, but he is genuinely good at causing them to reach important breakthroughs in their treatment.
  • Friend on the Force: Tobin has a few old police colleagues who he sometimes gets help form, most frequently Marty Kengelberg (who, ironically, is still bitter towards Tobin for getting his partner killed in the first book but mends fences with him by the end).
  • Happily Married: Tobin and his wife, in spite of his past adultery.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Kerrigan to mob boss Rembek in the firs book.
  • Insane = Violent: Both played straight and subverted with the various kinds of mental patients in the third book.
  • It's All My Fault: Tobin suffers from severe, and somewhat justified, mental anguish over his partners death.
  • Karma Houdini: One of the murderous gang of thieves from the final book apparently escapes.
  • Never the Obvious Suspect: Averted, with the most blatantly shifty and obvious suspect being guilty in the second and fourth novels, although other times it's played straight.
  • Not Used to Freedom: The 3rd book takes place at a halfway house of sorts, easing recently discharged mental patients back into society. Many of them seem apprehensive, or outright not ready and one has spent years hiding in the attic and just mingling with newcomers who don't know he doesn't belong there due to having nowhere else to go and having developed an attachment to the place.
  • Off the Wagon: One of the mental patients, a recovering alcoholic, goes run-in for the nearest bar due to the stress of the crimes in book 3.
  • Open Secret: Everyone in the fourth book knows how Jamie the murder victim cheated on his partner except for said partner and one other friend.
  • Police Brutality: Shows up a few times, most notably with Grinella, a detective Tobin ends up paired with for the final act of the fifth book.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Both the murder victim and his friend Leo Ross in the fourth book are black and gay.
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