#4 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series . . .
"Roberts is one of the best crime writers around, and The Cleveland Connection is his best effort yet. The plot has all the right ingredients—danger, suspense, intrigue, action—in all the right amounts; Milan Jacovich is the kind of guy we want on our side when the chips are down . . . Don't miss this one." — Booklist
"Very good and very tough . . . Les Roberts has written an extremely good novel that is well worth reading by all, not just mystery lovers." — Armchair Detective
"There's an affection for Cleveland and an insistence on its ethnic, working-class life that gives vividness to the detection. Roberts writes with sharp wit, creates action scenes that are drawn with flair, and puts emotional life into a range of people." — Washington Post
Private investigator Milan Jacovich (it's pronounced MY-lan YOCK-ovich) is Slovenian-American, but he's familiar with the varied ethnic groups that make up the city of Cleveland. An elderly Serbian man has gone missing, and when his granddaughter suspects foul play, Milan agrees to take up the search.
In the meantime, Milan's good friend, Plain Dealer reporter Ed Stahl, has written a column critical of the gangster element on Cleveland's Murray Hill, and is now being threatened and harassed, which brings Milan into direct conflict with a millionaire garbage hauler and an out-of-town muscle punk named Nello Trinetti.
The Serbs and the Slovenians traditionally don't get along too well, but Milan makes inroads into Cleveland's Serbian community after a shocking murder, eventually coming face-to-face with its unofficial mayor, Lazo Samarzic, an angry and militant man who runs a produce stand in the historic old West Side Market.
Hatreds that have simmered for fifty years eventually explode as Milan Jacovich takes on one of his most challenging cases.
The prolific Roberts's fourth mystery (after Deep Shaker ) starring Cleveland-based Slovene ex-cop Milan Jacovich is his most ambitious work thus far. Here, global politics and wartime atrocities figure in the death of an old Serb, Bogdan Zdrale. Hired by Zdrale's good-looking, worried granddaughter, Milan combs Cleveland's ethnic enclaves for the missing retired factory worker with a fondness for taverns, coffee and conversation. Soon Zdrale's body turns up in a remote spot, but the execution-style killing and the appearance of a hired gun from New York prompts Milan to dig deeper. Longer than most of Roberts's books, this novel also incorporates more extensive subplots, including the print war waged by Milan's reporter buddy on local crime lords and the PI's unhurried coming-to-terms with fatherhood, divorce and loneliness. The central narrative, stretching back to WW II concentration camps, is grounded in a potent plot, as Roberts skillfully juggles readers' expectations. On the debit side is his overpromotion of Cleveland and his introduction of incest, current crime fiction's most overused plot device. While Roberts' best work may remain his debut, An Infinite Number of Monkeys, this latest is a brave, satisfying story.