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The Dutch by Les Roberts

The Dutch (2001)

by Les Roberts

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Milan Jacovich is an old style detective in Cleveland. Ellen Carnine was a singularly homely woman who seemed, nonetheless, to have been perfectly happy. So why did she do The Dutch (police slang for suicide)? When Ellen's distraught father comes to him and asks Jacovich to find out why his daughter committed suicide, it doesn't seem like too much trouble. Of course, there isn't much of a mystery in that simple story and soon Jacovich discovers that the apparent suicide is actually murder.

The author also takes an interesting philosophical look at the role that appearance plays in American women's lives as well as the desperate measures that lonely people are driven to in this day of internet chat rooms. Roberts does an excellent job of discussing distasteful subjects such as pornography, on-line sex, and more without making the reader dive into sordid details.

Interestingly, Amazon reader reviews kept mentioning a shocking plot twist which I, in my infinite mystery reading jadedness, thought could not possibly be that shocking. Wrong. Luckily I was skimming the page when that plot point was revealed, thinking that I probably didn't want indepth information about that particular bit (the only part of the book like that I might add). But the twist was truly shocking.

Not only does Roberts weave a fascinating mystery, but Jacovich is an honest and interesting character who loves Cleveland, justice, his sons. He has just enough ties to mob bosses to get him the information he needs and the trouble that he doesn't. Milan Jacovich reminds me to some degree to another of my favorite detective characters, Spenser (before Robert Parker pounded his formula into the ground). I especially like his inherent respect for each person and the way he views each as having value, even if that person happens to be a hooker without any apparent heart of gold.

I never thought about Cleveland much one way or the other but I found myself picturing some of the classic Kansas City downtown buildings as Roberts fondly describes this Midwestern city. That may not be too interesting if you don't have Midwestern ties but it certainly sets a complete scene if nothing else.

Roberts' books do not seem to stay in print long and, as I discovered when dropping by Half Price Books, people must be hanging onto them because they aren't being recycled. ( )
1 vote julied | Oct 14, 2008 |
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For Helga Sandburg Crile
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The dark space under the Lorain-Carnegie bridge is, I think, a singularly lousy place to die.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312265794, Hardcover)

Milan Jacovich, Cleveland's most popular private investigator, specializes in industrial security, but when another type of case comes up that is too good to resist he will agree to work on it. That is exactly what happens when Professor Carnine walks into his office in this 12th addition to the series.

Milan recognizes Dr. Carnine's name, but can't remember from where until Dr. Carnine explains. His daughter's body was found under a local bridge. The police agreed that 30-year-old Ellen Carnine committed suicide, or in street parlance "did the dutch." However, Dr. Carnine cannot accept that answer and wants Milan to find out what could have driven his daughter, somewhat of a recluse, to take her own life? He is filled with guilt that maybe there was something about his daughter he should have known, that maybe there was a way he could have helped her. Reluctantly, Milan agrees to take the case knowing that the outcome will not be happy for anyone.

Milan finds that Ellen spent most of her time on the computer either working or on the Internet and that she was appreciated by her bosses, a pair of young Cleveland entrepreneurs who made movies. But interviews with her few friends lead him to see her as an independent person who got satisfaction from her work and had accepted the fact that she was seriously overweight and physically unattractive.

Digging further, Milan comes upon upsetting small clues that shout "murder" to him, and suspicions about what her employers were actually up to grow. His investigation begins to take a different, and eventually dangerous, direction until he uncovers the horrific truth behind Ellen's death.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:12 -0400)

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