In his novel debut, Roberts puts his own twist on hard-boiled noir and successfully channels the voice of beloved gumshoe greats.
Roberts introduces Joe S. Milo, “S, as in Harry S. Truman,” known simply as Milo to his friends; an incorrigible ladies’ man, who may not be fashionably stylish, but more than makes up for it with his sharp wit. Jonah—a menacing, boxing-gym-owning Jamaican with a heart of gold—is Milo’s right-hand man. True to formula, Milo’s first case is Jay, a beautiful, wealthy damsel in distress. Jay’s recently deceased husband bequeathed his company shares to her, but his none-too-savory business partner feels the shares are rightfully his, and he plans to retrieve them by whatever means necessary. Jay’s arrival added a little more spice to Milo’s day, which began with a phone call from his partner Dooley in the Miami office asking for a little help and a lot of advice. Dooley’s brother-in-law, a stock trader, finds himself in the difficult and dangerous position of being in business with the mob. Tomas owes $1.5 million in a hard money loan, which has created a serious health issue for him and his family. By having Jonah accompany Jay to her Miami Beach home, Milo is better able to keep an eye on everyone as he attempts to solve each of their potentially deadly problems, with the bonus of knowing that Jonah is watching his back. No matter how great the danger, Milo handles it with aplomb, always perfectly composed and with a witty quip or sarcastic observation at the ready, though at times it can seem a little excessive. Though Roberts feeds genre formula stereotypes by rendering Milo as an acerbic alcoholic who seems to be battling a perpetual hangover, his efforts are well-executed, organic and without compromise. It may take a while to get used to the densely written pages; however, the dialogue always pops, and Milo has such a descriptive way with words, it’s well worth the effort.
A contemporary mystery with an old-world feel.