“It was near the end of a long, hot Saturday afternoon in July, the kind of heat that makes Clevelanders quietly wish in their hearts for winter. When the overhead clouds refuse to move and the high temperature is locked in along with the high humidity, everybody is wet, annoyed, tired, and dragged out by day’s end.”
THE CLEVELAND CREEP is my introduction to Les Roberts and Milan Jacovich but when I read the first paragraph, I understood exactly what author and character were feeling. Substitute “Bostonian” for “Clevelander” and that is exactly what it was like last Saturday.
“Savannah is one of the most atmospheric cities in America, on the Atlantic coast in Georgia – full of beautiful old buildings, hanging moss, eccentric natives, and weeping willows….A river with the same name, Savannah, runs nearby. Additionally, Savannah is the name of a woman who does stand-up news at the White House for NBC television, Savannah Guthrie. Like her, most women named Savannah are attractive and as tropical-looking as their names – or at least they seem more that way than if they had been christened Sadie or Gertrude.”
I know its cheating to use the author’s words to review his words but I don’t think many people can read that paragraph without laughing or, at the very least, smiling. I won’t pull out any more quotes—– o.k., I need one more—-“She’d …mispronounced my last name. If it gives you trouble, just sound it out properly with the J sounding like a Y—Yock-o-vitch…. my first name. Put the American slant on it–My-lan– and don’t say it the way you would pronounce the name of an Eastern European, or the Italian city noted for its fashion shows and its opera house.” These quotes take the reader as far as page 8 and no reader who gets this far into the book will be able to put it down until the end.
Les Roberts has the ability to make murder, mayhem, child pornography, and the X-rated movie industry palatable by showing the reader that Milan looks at the world with a slightly misshapen lens. If he couldn’t find the humor he couldn’t do the job without losing his soul.
Savannah Dacey hires Milan to find her missing child, Earl who is in his twenties. Earl has been missing for six days and, for the first time, he hasn’t let his mother know where he is. After some prodding from Milan, Savannah admits that her son isn’t exactly self-supporting but he does have a hobby that keeps him very busy and that might earn him some money. Earl takes his video camera to the malls in the area and films teenage girls on escalators, allowing them to freely advertise their favorite brands and styles in underwear to anyone who wants to pay Earl for the privilege. Unfortunately for Earl, no one wants to pay him and he is has become very annoying to some people who know how to swat bugs without leaving a trace.
Despite all signs pointing to him, Earl is not the Cleveland creep of the title. There are some characters that would actually be better candidates for the epithet. Roberts leaves Earl and his video camera behind and crosses into some of the most prevalent and unseen problems in society. I taught high school before my children were born and I learned to never assume that what is on public display is the reality of life behind closed doors. Thirty years ago, teenage girls faced pressure from their peer group to go in directions that made them uncomfortable. These same pressures are now a part of the lives of many girls in middle school. The author handles the subject with sensitivity; the girls are victims, too.
Kevin O’Bannion is a new character in the series. He is at loose ends so, as a favor, Milan takes him on as an apprentice. K.O. does not need lessons in using his fists and feet; he needs to learn how to control his temper and use his intelligence to keep himself out of trouble. Some of the best reading in the book are K.O.’s snarky reports to Milan. K. O. has a Ph.D in barely hidden sarcasm. It seems that having introduced K.O. to readers, he would be missed if he doesn’t appear in the further adventures of Milan Jacovich.
I received this book from the publisher. I am very glad that I did. I was aware of Les Roberts and Milan Jacovich but I hadn’t yet read any of the books. With fifteen books in the series, I have a lot of catching up to do.
I didn’t give into the temptation of bringing up “axed” and “pitchers”