Longtime readers of the terrific Milan Jacovich series of books from author Les Roberts will notice a few differences in the latest release, Win, Place, or Die. First, the credit lists Les Roberts with Dan S. Kennedy. And second, it's titled 'A Milan Jacovich/K.O. O'Bannion Mystery.'
But don't worry. It's still the same 'can't put it down' story with the familiar Cleveland and Slovenian heritage references that fans have enjoyed for years.
The main setting is the world of harness racing (think Northfield Park) and Dan S. Kennedy knows that world as well as anyone as a horse owner and rider. Les, and Milan, didn't have that scope of knowledge so Dan's insider info from that world, including the backside that customers never see, gives substance and credibility to the story.
As for K.O., it's not surprising that Milan's young employee would start seeing more action. Milan is not a kid anymore and the dangers of his investigations (like the exercise wheel scene) have taken their toll. Each chapter starts with either a 'Milan' or 'K.O.' subheading and focuses on the story from that character's perspective. It's seamless and works well to fill in story lines and make the characters more real.
I was glad to see some of the old familiar characters mentioned, even if they weren't featured. Readers of the series have become attached to PD reporter Ed Stahl, Milan's ex-wife and kids and of course his late best friend Marko. And while Milan isn't drinking like he used to, and never went to Vuk's in this book, he did make it nearby to Sterle's for some Slovenian faire.
If you are a Milan Jacovich regular you need to read this book to catch up with old friends and new. If you haven't read any Milan Jacovich books yet, I envy you. You have a great experience ahead of you.
While Win, Place, or Die certainly stands alone and can be your first Milan book I would recommend that you start at the beginning and read Pepper Pike and the others in order. You will get a lot more out of it.
No matter how you read it, it's great to see Milan back in action and with K.O. (each with a love interest) by his side.
Reviewed by Dan Hanson
Don't miss the official ClevelandSeniors.Com profile of Les Roberts