HASTENED TO THE GRAVE: The Gypsy Murder Investigation by Jack Olsen
Prolific true-crime writer Jack Olsen (Salt of the Earth, 1996, etc.) profiles the large Tene Bimbo family, whose members specialize in the art of seeking lonely, wealthy old men and women and inheriting their fortunes.
The Bimbo family was composed of the Tene brothers, sister Angela, and cousins, all of whom branched out from California to New York seeking old women, old men, deeds, and cash. Fay Faron, a Bay Area private investigator, followed the family across the country in an attempt to catch them in the act. The Tenes played a simple and sickening ruse, best illustrated by the fate of Andreas Vlasto, a proud Greek man and a retired lawyer.
A lifelong bachelor, 85-year-old Andreas had for years lived in the same rent-controlled apartment in Manhattan. He was somehow befriended by a Tene clan member named Sylvia. Andreas’s nephew became concerned when relatives telephoned Andreas and spoke to a stranger instead, who insisted Andreas was too ill to speak. Days later the old man was rushed to the hospital, unconscious, suffering from what seemed to be Alzheimer’s and a host of other maladies.
His nephew Jim tried to visit him, but discovered that not only was his uncle married, but that the blushing bride had forbidden access to Andreas. Andreas recovered slowly but took a turn for the worse after his young wife paid him an overnight visit. He died the next day with a belly full of opiates and digitalis, a heart medication that can be fatal in large doses. Andreas died intestate, and his wife buried the body in secret and took off with the money. The PI, Faron, uncovers evidence in the Vlasto case and finally gets the Tene Bimbos.
This is the most satisfying of Olsen’s recent books, and among his saddest.