“Mystery readers, particularly of Cleveland and Clevelanders in general, should enjoy Roberts’ exploration of the city. Aspiring writers should enjoy his techniques and his dedication as a new mystery is born.” — Ohioana Quarterly
“Les Roberts is a writer, and a damned good one . . . A nearly perfect paean to a particular place and the people who made it that way . . . It’s almost as though you were invited into a warm, charming home on a cold, snowy night—in Cleveland, where else?—and after you and the host are seated in front of a roaring fire, he begins to chat.” — CoolCleveland.com
“Full of anecdotes and local color . . . a love letter to an adopted city.” — The Beacon Journal
When novelist and television producer Les Roberts arrived in Cleveland from Los Angeles for a short-term consulting job in 1986, he wasn’t entirely prepared. It was January, and he’d brought no overcoat, no boots. That chilly Northeast Ohio surprise wasn’t all he was unprepared for. He never dreamed that, just months later, he’d find himself so completely won over by the place that he’d give up the glitz of Hollywood and put down roots in this rustbelt city.
It took only a few weeks in Cleveland to convince Roberts that the city was a ripe setting for his next private-eye novel. Then, a chance meeting on an airplane led him to the inspiration for his new character: Milan Jacovich (pronounced My-lan Yock-o-vitch), a tough Slovenian-American sleuth with a master’s degree and a taste for klobasa sandwiches and cold Stroh’s beer.
The combination proved very successful. Thirteen Milan Jacovich novels resulted, and with each book Roberts drew more heavily on real Cleveland places and people for the authentic local flavor of his stories. From the upscale Heights to the industrial Flats, from shiny new Jacobs Field to the aging ethnic neighborhoods, Roberts and Jacovich covered the town. They saw where the deals were made (Johnny’s Bar, Little Italy), the good times were had (The Velvet Tango Room, Vuk’s Tavern), and the bodies were found (all over the place!).
In this memoir, Roberts tells how he discovered the heart and soul of a city while fictionalizing it for a series of novels. He writes about his favorite locations and his favorite people (and at least one person who was not happy to find himself in a novel). It will appeal to fans of the series, fans of the city, and aspiring novelists who want to learn how one writer took a city and made it his own through fiction.