Aug 132013
 
I am a huge Les Roberts fan. He's right up there with Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais for me. I love Milan Jacovich and like his sidekick KO Bannion at least as much. The dynamic duo of PI fiction is back again, investigating the unexplained death of a wealthy horse owner. The investigation takes Milan and KO to the darker corners of harness racing.
This story is very well researched, Les had some expert help of Dan S. Kennedy (a harness racer himself) and you can about smell the manure in some scenes.
There's a cool dog with an unusual name making sure there's some comic relief and the budding relationships of the private eyes with their ladies is developing just nicely.
As ever, KO is an interesting and fresh new PI and reading about Milan feels like catching up with an old friend again. More and more I feel these novels are as important to me because of those two guys as the (well-plotted) mystery.
Dec 242012
 
It is the end of the year again, so time to tell you about my favorite PI reads of the year...

BEST PI NOVEL: Whiskey Island (Milan Jacovich) by Les Roberts
BEST DEBUT: Frame Up (Fenway Burke) by James Phoenix
BEST NEW PI: Randall Lee in Changes by Charles Collyot
BEST ACTION SCENES: Ressurected (Adam Wolf) by Steve Trotter

Special mention to Jim Cliff's Jake Abrahams who was a close runner-up for Best New PI.

I'm pleased that Les Roberts still manages to put out books that are quite traditional PI but still feel new and fresh.
James Phoenix just blew me away with his debut that is so full of love of the genre.
Charles' Randall Lee is just one of the coolest characters in genre fiction and I'm enjoying his second outing (Pressure Point) right now. I love the guy and his girlfriend even more.
Steve Trotter managed to put out a great action movie in Kindle form with the first Adam Wolf novel that has me longing for a second one.

I was really pleased to see Tom Lowe return to crime fiction with The Butterfly Forest and to finally interview Charles Knief.

Special thanks this year to O'Neill DeNoux, Sean Dexter and Phillip T. Duck for helping my books become better and James W. Hall for writing a fantastic blurb for me.

And of course a great, great thanks for all of you buying the Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas stories and reviewing them!
Sep 252012
 
Milan Jacovich and his assistant K.O. Bannion return!
Cleveland councilman is in a lot of trouble... He's under investigation by the FBI and someone seems to be out to kill him. He hires Milan to find out who's gunning for him. Milan and K.O. end up taking on dirty politicians and investigating the death of a kinky hooker.
The plot is good, the characters well-written as always and it's always nice to read about Milan, but the best thing about this novel is K.O. Bannion. It's amazing how well Roberts manages to write about a 24-year old. K.O. is a tough investigator but also a very fresh and new character. With his background in the Army as well as juvenile detention he's a conflicted but hard-as-nails young man you just have to love. Good enough to star in his own series if you ask me!
Jul 252012
 
I'm catching up with the Milan Jacovich series and these little gems never dissapoint. In this one Milan is hired to find out why an unattractive young woman killed herself. When he finds out she might have been killed he gets involved in the world of internetporn and faces a sadistic killer.
As always Milan's old-fashioned take on the changing world around him is a joy to read. Always tough-but-tender we also see how much he loves his son and what a decent kind of guy he is.
Just a well-put together traditional private eye story in  a modern setting. The sort of stuff Les Robert excels at. If you love early Spenser, you will love this as well.

Apr 042012
 

Les Roberts gives us the lowdown on his novel The Cleveland Creep...

Tell us what the novel is about.Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich is hired to track down the disappeared son of his client, Savannah Dacey. The son, Earl, is a jobless 30-year-old loser, and when Milan discovers he's also a bit of a pervert, he's drawn into the ugly business of pornography in Cleveland. (Yes, Virginia, there IS a Cleveland porno industry.) He's helped by his very first employee, a young private-eye wannabe, Kevin O'Bannion---and not surprisingly, he finds his life in danger. He also butts heads with an arrogant and demanding FBI Special Agent, and his longtime involvement with his "frenemy," mob boss Victor Gaimari, begins to look shaky.

How long did it take you to write the novel?Generally a Milan book takes from 7-9 months to write, providing I'm left alone!!!!

Did it take a lot of research?
Not much research at all, actually. Long talks with some local police officers, including vice cops, and a certain amount of my running around taking notes because Milan visits FOUR different NE Ohio counties in this one, and I wanted to get the perfect, unique FEEL for each of them.

Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
There are stories about sex crimes almost daily on TV and in the newspapers. I was inspired, if you believe in THAT word, by three things: the arrest of a young man who cruises crowded shopping malls in the summer and attempts to videotape up the skirts of women, ESPECIALLY of young girls from Catholic schools who always wear skirts as part of their school uniform. The fact that teen-age girls who are sexually active have decided that having sex with older men would be a great way to earn lots of money. AND---a story about animal abuse that has haunted me for several years now until I simply HAD to write about it, even as a subplot.

Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
Probably the scenes between Savannah and Milan. She's torn between wanting to find her son and her total crush, albeit unrequited, on Milan.

Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
I fall in love with ALL the characters I write---male, female, good, bad, etc. I particularly liked writing about Helene Diamond, a woman hanging on the fringe trying to make a relatively innocent buck by producing pornographic movies in her downtown Cleveland studio. I grew so enchanted with the character, and I was sorry I couldn't include her in more scenes, but the story wouldn't permit it.

I was wary of the new character K.O. Bannion at first but love him now. What's in the near future for him?
Kevin O'Bannion showed up because Milan is getting older and has slowed down a bit. (Me too, by the way.) A Middle East veteran and a teenaged juvenile detention inmate, he's generally mad about everything. Quick with his fists---K.O. is not just his initials, but shorthand in the boxing industry for "Knock Out"----he and Milan butt heads as they try to figure out how to get along together. K.O. takes ONE LOOK at a very pretty young witness named Carli Wysocki, and he suddenly realizes he's alwahys wanted someone special in his young but difficult life. He will appear in the next one, "Whiskey Island," as will Carli---and assuming I'm around for another twenty years or so, I think he'll be a regular continuing character.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about the novel?
Most of my novels are based on something that really touches me---and usually infuriates me. "The Cleveland Creep" came from: Young teen guys abusing their teenage girlfriends is far too common in today's society. Horrific animal abuse happens every day for no apparent reason other than deep-down cruelty. Prostitution, especially among the upper and middle-class teens from comfortable suburbs. And of course the difficulty of people of two different generations trying to figure out how they can get along together.

Les Roberts came to mystery writing after 24 years as a Hollywood writer/producer. His next novel, "Whiskey Island," will be published later this year, and he's now writing what he hopes will be his TWENTY-EIGHTH book. He's also a movie critic, book critic, teacher, singer, jazz pianist, lecturer and public speaker. However, he DOESN'T do windows!
Mar 212012
 

I'd almost forgotten what a great example of solid PI writing Les Roberts is.
Milan Jacovich is back in action, trying to track down a missing young man with a perverse hobby. This draws Milan into the world of porn and gets him to clash with the FBI and puts his friendship with a mobster at risk.
He gets some help this time from ex-soldier K.O. Bannion, a young man who has the tendency to think with his fists instead of his brains.
I was a bit worried at first that Milan would loose his toughness with the introduction of this sidekick, but luckily it's made clear Milan may have gotten older but he is still pretty tough.
All in all, Les serves up a solid tale of PI fiction in the classic style of the nineties, to me one of the best and underrated periods in PI fiction.

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