Title & Link: L.A. Boneyard
Author: P.A. Brown
Publisher: Bristlecone Pine PRess
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Murder Mystery, Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (352 paperback pages)
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
A guest review by Buda
Summary Review: Part 3 of 4 in the David Laine/Chris Bellamere mysteries is a worthy continuation of their story, presenting new and dramatic distractions in their personal and professional lives.
From a shallow grave in Griffith Park, to the bucolic streets of West Hollywood into the dark heart of the gang-infested streets of East L.A., evil is pursued in this dark story of passion and redemption.
Detective David Eric Laine is no stranger to violence and brutality, but even he is taken aback at the sheer viciousness of the murder of two pregnant Ukrainian women. This is just the beginning of a baffling case which leads from their shallow grave to a bungalow community in West Hollywood, tree-lined and tranquil, on to the heart of the gang-infested streets of East Los Angeles, and points in between.
And what of Jairo Hernandez, David’s new, young partner? The attraction between them was immediate and intense and growing by the day. Would this be a threat to David’s settled life?
First, I have to admit to a bit of confusion. L.A. Heat and L.A. Mischief precede this third installment, yet the P.A. Brown page on MLR Press refers to L.A. Boneyard as L.A. #2 and the next book, L.A. Bytes as L.A. #3. L.A. Mischief is nowhere to be found. Following the L.A. Heat link to Amazon shows that novel weighing in at 340 pages. Wave reviewed Heat here and Mischief here. Combined, those two would total 311 pages. Perhaps they were merged when L.A. Heat was republished by MLR Press?
Regardless…It is now four years after L.A. Mischief or L.A. Heat (I’m still confused by the timeline mesh between the two). David Laine’s career as an out-of-the-closet LAPD homicide detective continues, much to the chagrin of some of his brothers in blue. His partner of ten years or so, Martinez Diego, has been temporarily reassigned to a gang unit in another precinct. The action starts as David responds to an early morning call-out to a body partially unearthed from a shallow grave. Soon, his new partner, Jairo Hernandez, shows up: “He was a tall man, though not as tall as David’s six-four, dark-skinned, with high cheek bones. His eyes were dark and dangerous. Too dangerous for David’s taste. The guy was going to spell trouble.”
Meanwhile, Chris rescues an abandoned and possibly abused Doberman Pinscher he finds along side the road. He names him Sergeant, because he reminds him of a drill sergeant. The business he started at the end of L.A. Heat has taken off, though there have apparently been some rocky financial times in the four missing years between books. His best friend, Des, is still around, having recovered from his attack and the murder of his boyfriend by the Carpet Killer in L.A. Heat. Des now has Trevor living with him and they appear to be happily coupled.
The murder mystery surrounds the partially unearthed body in the opening scenes and additional deaths as the story rolls along. As in L.A. Heat, the details are complex and their discovery is well paced. Because of the Ukrainian nationality of the victims and their surviving acquaintances, David and Jairo are introduced to a young patrolman of Ukrainian descent, Stefan Konstatinov, who acts as their interpreter. The sexual tension between David and Jairo is established early and revisited often. David warns Jairo to back off, to keep their dealings on a professional level, even as he wonders what it would be like to sleep with his young new partner. Jairo isn’t easily dissuaded, going so far as to visit David and Chris’ home so he and David can walk their dogs together (no euphemism there, though it sounds like it). How much of this David puts up with and how far he will let it go is, frankly, what kept most of my attention. When Chris discovers what Jairo has been up to–from cocky young Jairo himself–the David-and-Chris relationship dynamic kicks in more, though it is still secondary to solving the murders, even for David.
What Did Not Work For Me:
One of the clues to the nationality of the victims was the remains of a tattoo. David copied the design, then pronounced it “Ruzha.” Considering what that would look like in the Cyrillic alphabet, and David’s unfamiliarity with it, he wouldn’t have been able to pronounce it. The “zh” sound in particular would have stumped him.
The gang connection was, once again, a factor in this mystery. While I know gangs are easy fodder for crime writers, they offer nothing of interest to me personally.
Jairo. This brazen young man, married with children, pursued David with a single-mindedness so intense it was almost off-putting.
What Did Work For Me:
Jairo. His presence added a degree of tension and suspense that would not have been present if our good old homophobic buddy Martinez had still been around.
Konstatinov. I’m not entirely sure what it was about this eager youngster that I liked so much, but I hope to see him again in L.A. Bytes, the next installment in the series.
Chris and David disagreed about the dog. David wanted Chris to find his owner and return him; Chris wanted to keep him. Quickly they both fell in love with Sergeant and he became almost another character.
Because of the attempted-home-wrecking antics of Jairo and despite being pulled from the story a couple of times over the Cyrillic alphabet issues, I enjoyed this book very much. While L.A. Mischief sort of threw me for a loop, L.A. Boneyard restored my faith in the series. If you like your law enforcement books gritty and detailed with a healthy dose of angsty relationship drama, this is the book for you.