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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifSt. Martin's Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0-312-26579-4
Les Roberts combines a compelling mystery plot with a rare gem of a sleuth -- Private Investigator Milan Jacovich (MY-lan Yak-o-vitch). This middle-aged ex-cop travels the info-highway, leaving Cleveland behind as he enters the cyber world of seduction, perversion and relationships on the World Wide Web. In The Dutch, Milan adds jargon like "spam," computer shorthand (LOL) and emoticons (including smiley faces) to his repertoire.

Book: Les Roberts: The DutchThe story opens with the report of 29-year-old Ellen Carnine's 140-foot head-first plunge off the Loraine-Carnegie Bridge. Police call it suicide. "Doing the Dutch" in street lingo -- dead in any language.

Ellen's grieving father asks Milan to investigate. Just find out, tell me why she would kill herself, Ellen's father begs. Reluctantly Milan takes the case and begins piecing together the puzzle of Ellen's life. The more he digs, the more skeptical he becomes about suicide. After all Ellen, a homely overweight, 30-something single woman, used her intelligence and creativity to overcome ugly and fat, and build a successful career as a Web site designer. What could be worse than homely and fat that would make her commit suicide? From what Milan could see, she lived a fulfilling life.

Something niggles in the back of his mind. Milan knows he missed a clue. He knows it stares at him, he just can't see it. He continues to look, reason and question until he comes face to face with the ugly truth.

Book: Les Roberts: Best Kept SecretRoberts wins my applause for creating such a charming character and setting him in the midst of mysteries that contain meaningful social commentary. The author tosses together an eclectic collection of moral, philosophical, psychological and relationship related topics. Pornography vies with beauty. Lives lived alone versus those who live with a life mate mingle with the progression of sons coming of age and fathers aging. And all weave around the investigation.

Robert's protagonist waffles believably between the brave man who can stand up to any evil and the confused guy trying to sort out women, kids, sex, friendship and the real world. Milan Jacovich, portrays a rare and wonderful species: a gentleman in the new millennium. And, he wisely realizes that he just might be a dinosaur.

Milan wins my respect, especially with his warts, foibles and weakness for Strohs® fresh from the bottle. He's the kind of guy I'd trust to watch my back, and the kind of guy I'd invite to massage that same back. I enjoy spending time with Milan and miss him when he's gone.

Geeze, I gotta get a life!

Dawn Goldsmith

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