Berton K. Loftus doesn't look like Jimmy Dimora, yet the resemblance is striking. In Whiskey Island, Les Roberts' new crime novel, a Cleveland politician hires private eye Milan Jacovich to figure out who's trying to kill him. "It's all about corruption in Cleveland politics," Roberts says of his book. Headlines inspired him. "Every morning, I'd find out something else and [think], Oh, my God, I've got to put that in the book."
Senior detective: In his 16th Milan Jacovich novel, Roberts is letting the character age. "He's in his 60s. He's not going to win fist fights." To back him up, Jacovich has taken on a protégé, brash detective Kevin "K.O." O'Bannion.
Holiday revival: Local playwright Eric Coble is adapting Roberts' 1991 novella A Carol For Cleveland for the Cleveland Play House stage this winter. "I like the feeling of Cleveland I put in it," Roberts says. "The feeling of Cleveland at Christmastime, the feeling I have about Clevelanders. They're the friendliest people in the world. They don't mess around. They're hard-working, but very nice."
Thriller convention: Roberts will represent Cleveland noir at Bouchercon. His advice for aspiring mystery novelists: "There's got to be a murder. If a guy robs a hardware store, there's not much of a novel."