Les Roberts. Les Roberts is the author of 18 mystery novels featuring Cleveland private eye 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 Writers League, he came to mystery writing after a 24-year career in Hollywood writing and producing television shows. A native of Chicago, he now lives in Northeast Ohio. Les’s newest book is The Ashtabula Hat Trick. For more information, visit Les’s blog at LesRoberts.com or “like” him on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/authorLesRoberts)
Bringing BIG Ideas to the Mystery Novel
Mystery novels—at least the ones I write—are entertainment. But as I grow older and more experienced, I find my "whodunits" bring forth ideas about very important subjects. At least MY important subjects.
In my latest Milan Jacovich novel, The Ashtabula Hat Trick (it's Milan #18), there are three murders within a short period of time in a very small fictional town in Ashtabula County, and Tobe Blaine is asked to investigate. She brings Milan along for the weekend. But as they go about solving the case, I discuss several things in the real world that bother the hell out of me.
Racism rears its ugly head very early in the novel—something that drives me berserk almost every day! Then, a prison in the plot became very important to me, as so many prisons in our country, once run by the state or the municipalities, are now owned and operated by private companies whose ONLY business is to make money, ergo there goes the smallest shred of decency once given to inmates—especially the non-violent ones. The Ashtabula County prison, originally a very small plot point, became huge as I wrote.
Thirdly comes homophobia. I have many LGBTQ friends, and it enrages me that they face ignorant hatred and ignorance every day of their lives.
I won't stop writing, fictionally, about real things that are hateful and disturbing. I have books dancing in my head that I yearn to write—dealing with dog fighting and with the sex trafficking of children. As long as I can still sit up straight in front of my laptop, my books, especially the Milan Jacovich novels, are going to voice what I think. I hope, though, they'll be suspenseful and entertaining. After all, entertaining is my first job!
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