“I suppose,” muses Milan Jacovich, “when you’re in the business of messing in other people’s lives moral dilemmas come with the license.” In this 13th outing for Cleveland’s Marlowesque shamus (The Dutch, 2001, etc.), the moral dilemmas are particularly sticky. What to do, for instance, about the beautiful woman arguably out of bounds, the trusted friends who just happen to be mob-connected, and the vengeful murderer with whom he can’t help but empathize? It all begins when Common Pleas Judge Maureen Hartigan hires Milan to recover property conned from her by an Irish charmer whose brogue was as broad as his character was spurious. Was, that is, because soon enough Brian McFall (alias Jamie O’Dowd, alias William Poduska) turns past tense, shot to death in a shabby motel room. Near his corpse is a piece of paper with Milan’s name scrawled on it. Nowhere near, however, is the jewelry, the cash, or the envelope with certain family photographs Judge Hartigan had asked Milan to recover. A pair of dispiriting developments soon follow. One: Enter fire-breathing Lt. Florence McHargue, head of Cleveland PD’s homicide department, whose fickle tolerance for Milan is manifest mainly when she wants his help. Two: Fretful Milan now doubts that the Hartigan family is really what those purloined photos show. He’s right, of course. But before he learns for sure, his own name will flirt with the Irish Sports Pages—in Cleveland, the newspaper obituaries.
Milan is as likable as ever, his adventures as formulaic.