They were a notorious gypsy family that seeped into their victims' lives like a deadly cancer. And they couldn't be stopped-- until one courageous woman took on the cases no one else would touch...
Elderly, well-to-do men and women who, due to their failing health, strength, and faculties, could be conned out of their fortunes by heinous neglect, abuse, and possibly even murder.
Several members of a ruthless family of Gypsies known for their cunning con-games and remarkable ability to extract large sums of money from their unwitting pawns.
Fay Faron, a beautiful, never-say-die P.I., determined to bring these culprits to justice-- even when the authorities turned a blind eye to the Gypsies' crimes time and time again.
In this shattering expose, bestselling author Jack Olsen follows Fay Faron as she retraces every step of the Gypsy family and the crimes they stand accused of: moving in on their helpless prey, extorting money, signing the fortunes of elderly millionaires into their own names-- and speeding up the death process with sadistic neglect, slow poison, and unspeakable cruelty. Not since Peter Maas' King of the Gypsies has the world of Gypsy crime been exposed in such shocking detail and with more fascinating insight.
Author of 27 books (Salt of the Earth, etc.), Olsen has found a winning protagonist in Fay Faron, the straight-shooting, busty blonde proprietress of Rat Dog Dick, a down-and-out San Francisco detective agency comprised of Faron and her trusty mutt, Beans. Olsen's latest true-crime saga begins when Faron is hired by a lawyer friend to check out Danny Tene, who the lawyer suspects is bilking an elderly client out of her life savings. When the client turns up dead, Faron suspects murder. Her investigation leads her to the shady and mysterious world of the Tene Bimbo clan (the family Peter Maas chronicled in King of the Gypsies), and six more bodies, all elderly men, all seemingly seduced by Tene women as far back as 1984 and duped into giving the women their money and property. Apparently not content to wait for the natural demise of their aging charges, the Tenes allegedly dosed them with the heart medication digitalis, which acts as a slow, difficult-to-detect poison. Faron finally gets the police to act on the evidence she's uncovered; as of the writing of this book, the supposed perpetrator of the so-called Foxglove murderer (named for the plant that produces digitalis) was still to go to trial (Olsen concludes with the November 1997 indictments). As the trial promises to be fascinating in its own right, readers with an interest in the case would have been better served by a definitive account. Even so, Olsen does his usual professional job here, turning in a brisk, well-researched treatment of murders most foul. 8 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW. Literary Guild, Mystery Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (May)
This latest work by true-crime author Olsen Salt of the Earth, LJ 4/1/96 begins in 1992 in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the reader meets a female private eye, Fay Faron, a.k.a. Rat Dog Dick, and the Tene gypsy clan, who allegedly conned and murdered the elderly. The case Faron is investigating has its complications: gypsies, who frequently move around, often use aliases, and the Tene clan may have defied the unwritten rule that gypsies do not kill for money. The chief suspects in the case are Angela and her brother Danny, who would allegedly befriend the elderly, con them into giving up money and possessions, and then abuse them and poison their food. Olsen's interesting account reads like a novel, but because the case has yet to go to trial by book's end, readers may be disappointed. Nevertheless, this case offers an inside look at the dark side of gypsy culture. Recommended for true-crime collections.Michael Sawyer, Northwestern Reg. Lib., Elkin, NC
"Hastened to the Grave" is not only a jaw-dropping true account of how far a certain Gypsy family would go to separate marks from their money, it is also a cautionary tale about the perils of loneliness in a society that has ceased to value old age. -- Judith Newman, New York times Book Review
The prolific true-crime writer Olsen profiles the charmingly named Tene Bimbos, a family of Gypsies accused of murdering the elderly for profit. 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. His 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. Faron uncovers evidence in theVlasto case and finally gets the Tene Bimbos. The most satisfying of Olsen's recent books, and among his saddest. (Literary Guild alternate selection)
From the Publisher
"Jack Olsen's particular gift is his ability to illuminate the souls of his characters."—Jonathan Kellerman
"A jaw-dropping true account."—The New York Times Book Review
"[A] brisk, well-researched treatment of murders most foul."—Publishers Weekly
Jack Olsen is the author of thirty books published in fourteen countries. A former bureau chief for Time, he has written for Vanity Fair, Sports Illustrated, People, Paris Match, and Reader's Digest. He has won the National Headliners Award, citations for excellence from Columbia and Indiana Universities, three Edgar Award nominations, and the 1990 Edgar for Doc: The Rape of the Town of Lovell. He lives on an island in Washington's Puget Sound with his wife and two children.
1An Easy TouchFAY FARON ALWAYS answered her phone with a cheery “Rat Dog Dick!” even though she was well aware that some of her callers would gladly garrote her and feed her to the crabs off Pier 45. When she’d first established her one-woman detective agency, she tried answering in a businesslike contralto to create the impression that she employed a receptionist, but a friend complained that she sounded like a table dancer.This morning’s caller was Ken Chan, her lawyer and favorite client, asking if she could drop into his office on busy Union Street to discuss an assignment. “No big deal,” he added.“I’m halfway there,” Fay said. You could never tell what Chan meant by “no big deal.” On one of his cases she’d ended up chasing rustlers in the Arizona desert, earning a year’s supply of flank steak for herself and Beans, her Rastafarian dog and confidant.
ONE GOOD THING about Ken Chan, she reminded herself as she climbed into the rattly old car she called the Frog Prince, he’s quick pay, unlike some other lawyers. She was $68 delinquent on her veterinary bill and a week or two behind on less important accounts like electricity and telephone. Some of her clients hadn’t paid up in years, but she would rather skate naked across the Union Square ice rink than dun a customer. She considered herself a relaxed and forgiving soul, lighthearted, playful, famous among her friends as an easy touch for men, women, dogs, cats, gerbils, lizards and goldfish. It was one of the reasons she was usually broke.