Win, Place, or Die
A Milan Jacovich / K.O. O'Bannion Mystery (#17)
- Hardcover, 292 pages, 5.6 x 8.8 inches
- ISBN: 978-1-938441-37-0
The sudden death of a client leads private investigator Milan Jacovich (MY-lan YOCK-ovitich) and new associate Kevin “K.O.” O'Bannion behind the scenes at a harness racing track, where they find no shortage of odd characters, suspicious activities . . . and danger.
Did wealthy horse owner/driver Glenn Gallagher make one too many enemies in the competitive racing world at North Coast Downs? (Certainly the track's owner, chilly Chloe Markham, isn't mourning his loss.) Or did someone involved with Gallagher's investment firm want him dead?
Things get more complicated when Milan spots local mob boss Victor Gaimari at the funeral. Victor does have a legitimate investment business . . . but his henchman was seen lingering trackside at Northcoast Downs. Is there a connection?
Though eager to learn the P.I. business, K.O. still has trouble staying out of trouble. Assigned to dig up some dirt in the horse barns, he tangles with hot-tempered trainer Del Fiddler, who's jealous of his flirtatious and curvaceous wife—and handy with a horse whip.
Another body turns up at the track, but the local sheriff's office won't share leads with a private investigator. Milan's new flame, Cleveland police detective Tobe Blaine, can't help; she's out of her jurisdiction in Summit County.
Milan finally confronts the killer alone—and once again finds himself in deep trouble!
Exciting and suspenseful Midwest Book Review
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 Les Roberts
Q: I see the new novel is set in the world of harness racing. How did you come up with this idea?
A: People approach me at least three times a month asking, “Why don't you write a book about such-and-such?” but I usually don't find much inspiration in their ideas. I was approached by Dan S. Kennedy, an entrepreneur, horse owner, and harness racing driver. He had sent me a nice, long letter and laid out a lot of ideas, not the plot, but the subject. We had lunch and I thought, “This sounds really good.” Then I got to thinking about how I could turn the ideas into a book.
Q: Tell us a little about the sport. How does it work? What makes it different from other horse racing?
A: In harness racing people aren't riding on horses. They are in a two-wheeled cart called a “sulky” that is drawn behind the horse. Also, they aren't called “jockeys”; they are known as “drivers”.
Q: What did you learn from your visits to the racetrack?
A: I learned that the horses are considered athletes and, for the most part, are treated very, very, well. I also have to agree with Milan's partner, Kevin “K.O.” O'Bannion when he says that no matter how well you treat the horses, they are pretty much prisoners—they have to live in a stall and they can't get out all that much. But they are very loving, loyal animals. While I was writing the book, I visited my co-author Dan's barn, and I loved playing with the horses. There's a scene in the book where a horse lays his head on K.O.'s shoulder and sighs. That happened to me while I was visiting the barn and I thought, “Oh my God, this is really beautiful.”
Q: This is the first book to be subtitled, “A Milan Jacovich/Kevin O'Bannion Mystery.” Is K.O. now a permanent part of the series?
A: K.O. is now a big part of the series because he's doing half of the investigating. I think K.O.'s existence in the series is going to reach a lot of younger people who will enjoy him as a character. Let's face it: Milan, like me, is getting older.
Q: Although this is Book #17 in the Milan Jacovich series, does Cleveland still serve as an inspiration for the characters and plot?
A: Just about every time I see the Cleveland skyline my blood runs just a little bit faster. We're not a big city but we do have three major league sports teams, which isn't the case for a lot of other cities. Take Los Angeles where I used to live for 24 years. It doesn't have a football team, so Cleveland is pretty lucky in that way. Also, I love the people here and they continue to inspire me.
Q: I see you ended up writing the book with Dan Kennedy, the guy who approached you about the harness racing idea. How did the two of you work together?
A: Dan gave me some ideas and I'd say, “OK, let me get started on this.” I'd write something, then send it off to him and say, “How does this sound to you?” Being a horse owner and harness racing driver, Dan filled me in on the background and, after looking over what I wrote, would say, “You shouldn't have said this. You should say that.” Dan's also a huge mystery buff so he contributed a lot when it came to the racetrack characters and things they'd say or do. It was a great collaboration.
Q: Do you have a favorite new character in the new novel?
A: I really like Dr. Bunny, the veterinarian who cares for the horses, inspired by a real vet I met while visiting the track. One day I was there and she was caring for a sick horse in the barn. She took the horse some medicine from her truck and left the truck––filled with medications—totally unattended! Just about anybody could have come by and stolen the drugs from the truck if he'd wanted to. There's a scene based on this in the book.
Q: I see Milan has a strong love interest in the new book, a relationship with Cleveland cop Tobe Blaine. How would you describe this relationship, and what can readers expect regarding Milan and Tobe in the future?
A: I can't tell how long they may be together. But I can tell you their relationship is strong. Milan has always been with women who are sophisticated professionals, make more money than he does, and don't understand what he does. They always say, “Why do you want to go out there and put your ass on the line? Why don't you go get a real job?” Although Tobe and Milan butt heads, she understands what being a cop is all about.
Q: After so many books in one series, how do you keep your writing “fresh” and the characters alive?
A: I think one of the reasons is, I find something to write about that I haven't written about before. Just look at my last two books (Cleveland Creep and Whiskey Island). Perverts, corrupt politicians—my God, did I have a ball writing about them! Every time I write a book, I have another one or two ideas in the back of my head so when I finish one book, I can start another. Needless to say, I've been thinking about the next Milan novel for well over a year now.
About Dan S. Kennedy
Dan S. Kennedy is a strategic business and marketing advisor, consultant, and professional speaker, and he is author of more than twenty business books (www.NoBSBooks.com). He was born, raised, and lives in the Cleveland area. His love of harness racing began in his youth. More About Dan S. Kennedy
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
- King of the Holly Hop
- 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