Sat 8/29 @ 1-3PM
It takes more than laws to eliminate the “hat trick” behind the “hat trick” of the title The Ashtabula Hat Trick, the new Milan Jacovich mystery by Cleveland-based author Les Roberts. It’s the 18th in the series, all set in northeast Ohio.
In the small town of Queenstown in Ashtabula County, three people were killed in different ways, which represents the “hat trick” in the title of the book (a hat trick being three goals by the same player in a hockey game.) But the ‘hat trick’ in Queenstown is prejudice, plain and simple: hating gays or blacks or anyone weaker than you, or maybe not quite as white and holy as you are. There are little pockets of such prejudice everywhere, and they’re harder than the devil to get rid of. Presuming you can find the source, that is. Bullying may not be encouraged, but it surely isn’t discouraged very much, either.
Cleveland private investigator Milan Jacovich and his recently acquired younger assistant K. O. O’Bannion are enlisted by Milan’s “main squeeze” Cleveland Police Homicide Detective Sergeant Tobe Blaine, when she is assigned to “help” the local police department deal with two murders. Might they be the victims of a “serial killer”? Other than being male and living in the same town, there would not appear to be a common reason behind the deaths. When a third one occurs — this time a lady pillar of the community, serving in the high school and church, by yet a third method of murder, the solution is even more difficult to uncover.
The only apparent commonality is the local church, a hardcore mongrel of Protestant derivation, and a minister who believes that everyone should believe as he does. Accordingly, he feels free to bad-mouth anyone and everyone who differs. He nearly loses his cool entirely when Milan and Tobe attend a service. He can’t very well throw them out, but his prejudice towards the biracial couple is made even more vocally evident.
There are some straightforward folks in Queenstown, but they seem to be few and far between, and they mostly stay clear of the reverend and his church. There are the uneducated meth-lab good ’ol boys, and the crooked suppliers of goods to the for-profit prison plunked in the middle of the community, bringing with it both helpful and unhelpful families and friends. The evil intertwines throughout the entire community before it can finally be stopped.
After all the various kinds of hatred have been explored, near the end of the book is a most amazing treatise on love — not to be missed. This paragraph (page 218) says it all: “There’s a different kind of love for every person on the planet . . . That’s the trick. If you love someone — you learn to love them the way they want to be loved.” That’s the most important thing to remember. Love can overcome evil — if you let it.
This is an engrossing and well-written, powerful story — taken from the front pages of newspapers everywhere these days. More power to Milan, Tobe and K. O. for squashing this particular example. Too bad they can’t be cloned and distributed to other troubled spots in the country.
Author Roberts will be signing the new book Sat 8/29 from 1-3pm at the Fireside Book Shop in downtown Chagrin Falls.He has other upcoming events in September and October which you can find on his website.