King of the Holly Hop
A Milan Jacovich Mystery (#14)
by Les Roberts
- Softcover, 256 pages, 5.1 x 8 inches
- ISBN: 978-1-59851-054-6
#14 in the Milan Jacovich mystery series . . .
Going to your high school reunion is never fun. But this time, it's murder.
When Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich reluctantly attends the fortieth reunion of his St. Clair High School graduating class, he gets a rude surprise: one of his classmates is found shot dead and another quickly becomes the main suspect.
The suspect, successful playwright Tommy Wiggins, draws Milan into the case--and puts him in a very awkward position. Investigating his former schoolmates is an uncomfortable task for Milan, as he soon discovers the dark secrets of people he only thought he knew.
The deceased Dr. Phil Kohn, it turns out, was a cad who managed to make more than a few enemies during his abbreviated life. But did a forty-year-old grudge really lead to his death? Or was it something more recent--a jealous spouse, a shady business partner?
Milan's hunt for the real killer leads him through the oddly intertwined worlds of Cleveland's medical community, organized crime, polite suburban society, and hard-core drug dealers. It's a tough investigation in which Milan could lose many friends—and, if he's not careful, his life.
This Roberts novel is, as always, well written and completely thought out. It has humor, some genteel sadness and, of course, a mystery that will keep readers pondering. Medina County Gazette
An enjoyable whodunit with a deep realistic look at Cleveland now and a nostalgic surreal look at the city in the 1960s though the distorted lens of memories. Midwest Book Review
Roberts has a real talent for character development giving Milan an interesting cast to work with and play off of . . . [the book] is a real treat, whether this is the reader's first introduction to the Cleveland PI or one merely catching up with an old friend. Mysterious Reviews
[Roberts] writes crisply with a knowing pace that moves the story along and he deftly creates interesting scenes and characters. [Milan] Jacovich is a descendant of the hard-boiled school of PIsno Sherlock Holmes here!but his civilized, occasionally tender treatment of the people he encounters and investigates is an appealing trait . . . Roberts knows his people; he brings them to life out of his experience and craft and imbues them with instant credibility. Ohioana Quarterly
Really a fun read, with nicely building tension and interesting character relationships. It's a good, solid mystery. Record Courier
A fresh and original mystery, highly recommended to those looking for a classic whodunit with new ideas. Small Press Bookwatch
About Les Roberts
Les Roberts is the author of 17 mystery novels featuring Cleveland private investigator Milan Jacovich, as well as 11 other books of fiction. The past president of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writer's League, he came to mystery writing after a 24-year career in Hollywood writing and producing television shows. He has been a professional actor, a singer, a jazz musician, and a teacher. A native of Chicago, he now lives in Northeast Ohio and is a film and literary critic. More About Les Roberts
Question & Answer with the author...
Q: It's been six years since you wrote a Milan Jacovich novel. What influenced you to write another one now?
A: Every week I would receive three, four, eight e-mails from perfect strangers saying “We miss your Jacovich books, when's the next one going to be?” I thought that I had put him to sleep for good with The Irish Sports Pages in 2002 and I was doing other things, but I figured a lot of people want to read another one, and I did have a good idea about high school reunions, so I sat down and wrote. Now I'm putting together my notes for my next Milan book. So, he's probably not going to go away for a while again.
Q: Why did you set the crime at a high school reunion?
A: I was invited to a high school reunion of my own a few years ago. I didn't go because it was in Chicago. A few people that I still know said, “Oh my God, everybody was asking about you.” And I thought, what would that have been like? Because I left Chicago in 1956 and basically haven't been back there since. I thought it would be an interesting exercise for me to write about the reunion. And of course when I started to write the book a lot of other things came up in my mind. The people you were close friends with thirty, forty, fifty years ago, they've changed a lot. You don't realize how much they've changed and how much you've changed. I folded that into the book as well.
Q: Does your own high school experience enter into the novel?
A: Oh sure, but my experiences always enter my novels. I hide them, and I won't admit specifically to any of them, but sure.
Q: Cleveland has always played an essential role in your Milan series—almost as a character in itself. Are there any local suburbs, landmarks, neighborhoods, or attractions appearing for the first time in this book?
A: Olmsted Falls. I had lived here for about sixteen years and had never been there before. I went there for a book signing a few years ago when the paperbacks came out, and what a charming town that is. I got to know people there and I promised that I would write about it the next time and I did.
Q: One of the main suspects is a writer of plays and movies. Did you bring your own experiences as a Hollywood actor and screenwriter into the novel?
A: Sure, I think that all the characters I write, whether they're good or bad, male or female, have parts of me in them. I think if you read the description of the writer, he's me (though I haven't been married to movie stars).
Q: In the book, the Holly Hop is a school dance. Did your school have one?
A: Yes, I had a Holly Hop in high school, and I was the king of the Holly Hop. And I won it the same way he was picked in the book: my name was pulled out of a hat. I always thought that was amusing. It was OK, but I wasn't that crazy about high school to begin with.
Q: How has Milan Jacovich changed as a character during the course of the fourteen novels in the series?
A: Like me, he's gotten older. In the old days he would wade into a fistfight, but now he's pretty damn careful about it. He does have to get physical with two people in the new book, but he's very careful. He's too damn old and he doesn't want to get hit anymore. Neither do I.
Q: How do you think Milan's opinions have changed over the years? How do you think he would have reacted to a gay character in earlier books in comparison to the way he does in this one?
A: I think he probably would have reacted the same way, simply because an awful lot about Milan is me. I'm not as big as he is, I didn't play football, and I don't drink Stroh's and smoke cigarettes, but I feel very strongly about a lot of things like he does, and I get furious when gay people are dissed, and screwed over by the government. That I don't think would have changed from the beginning.
Q: Do any of the characters from previous books make an appearance?
A: A lot of the regulars appear, though they're not central to the book. They're like people in my life, and I enjoy seeing them again.
Q: Can someone enjoy King of the Holly Hop without having read the previous Milan Jacovich books?
A: Oh sure. I've tried to do that with all the books. You certainly try not to repeat yourself by telling everyone who Milan is and retelling his background. I did that very easily in this one; for instance, when he ran into his ex-wife at the reunion I didn't have to say “Oh, by the way, he's been divorced for this number of years and he has two boys . . .” That I made part of the plot.
Q: Will there be any more Milan novels in the future?
A: I'm in the middle of writing another book right now that's not a Milan, but as soon as I finish that one, hopefully by fall, then I'll start on the new Milan. After that, who knows. As far as I'm concerned, since I started writing books twenty-some years ago I've thought, I will quit writing books when they carry me out. It's what I love to do, it's what I was born to do, I think. Over the years that I was not writing Milan I did miss him because he was like a best friend. He was somebody I dealt with every day of my life, and when I wasn't writing about him I started missing him. So it was nice to reacquaint myself with him in King of the Holly Hop.
Other books by Les Roberts:
- The Best-Kept Secret
- A Carol For Cleveland
- A Carrot for the Donkey
- The Cleveland Connection
- The Cleveland Creep
- The Cleveland Creep
- The Cleveland Local
- Collision Bend
- Deep Shaker
- The Duke of Cleveland
- The Dutch
- Full Cleveland
- The Indian Sign
- An Infinite Number of Monkeys
- The Irish Sports Pages
- The Lake Effect
- The Lemon Chicken Jones
- Not Enough Horses
- Pepper Pike
- Seeing the Elephant
- A Shoot in Cleveland
- Snake Oil
- We'll Always Have Cleveland
- Whiskey Island
- Win, Place, or Die