Bermuda Heat (L.A. #5)

Title & Link: Bermuda Heat (L.A. #5)
Author: PA Brown
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Bermuda Heat (L.A. Series) (Kindle); Buy Link Bermuda Heat (Paperback)
Genre: Murder Mystery, Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (73,000 words, 260 paperback pages)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

A guest review by Buda

Summary Review: The blurb for this fifth installment in the LA Heat series carried a lot of promise for fans of David and Chris. Unfortunately, the book is a massive disappointment.

***This review contains what might be considered spoilers.***

The Blurb:

A letter. A secret. A tragedy. David’s mother told him his father died when he was born. His mother lied.

David Eric Laine always believed his father had died in Vietnam before his birth. His mother remarried and he was adopted by his stepfather and grew up knowing Graham Laine as his only father. Forty years later, a letter arrives and David finds out everything he thought was a lie.His father, Joel Cameron, is alive and living in Bermuda where he came from back in 1968 to attend college. He met David’s mother, at the time a much more rebellious child of the turbulent sixties. Following David’s birth his mother fled back to the safety of her familiar, protected world and the lie was born. Rather than face her shame, David was told his father died a hero in Vietnam.

Now the lies unravel and the newly married Chris and David embark on a journey to discover the truth.

The Review:

The reviews for the previous four books in the series can be found here.

LA Homicide detective David Eric Laine and computer genius Christopher Bellamere have been married just over a year at the time of this book. A package arrives for David. In it is a letter and two plane tickets. The letter is from his biological father, a man David had been told was dead. The letter explains that Joel “Joey” Cameron had finally found David after years of believing that his son was dead. The plane tickets are for David and Chris to use to meet David’s new family in Bermuda. Chris convinces David to use some of his unused vacation time and, after a brief phone call, during which they meet David’s charming half-sister Imani and his father Joel, they eventually set out on a journey of discovery. But first, David and Chris take a side trip to New Hampshire to confront David’s manipulative bitch of a mother, Barbara, his stepfather, Graham, and grandmother, Nanna.

Once the two men finally make it to Bermuda, they meet Joel, Imani and half-brothers Jay and Baker. The Cameron boys are less than pleased to meet their bastard brother, the fag from the States. It is immediately clear, too, that Jay is in some sort of trouble, though our two heroes seem to miss that. While she doesn’t fully understand David’s sexuality, Imani welcomes him and Chris into the family and is probably the one redeeming character in the book.

Shortly after David and Joel’s reunion, things go from awkward to horrible. I don’t think it’s a secret at this point (but I’ve issued a Spoiler Warning), so I will reveal that Joel is murdered and David is arrested for it. Chris is left to deal with the situation in a foreign country with a wholly different legal system and what seems to be a rather common dislike of, and in some cases open contempt for, gay men. Chris is able to spring his husband from jail, but shortly after, David is arrested again. This time for the murder of his brother, Jay. Of course, this means Chris has to find the truth, which he does with remarkable and eye roll-inducing ease. The baddie is telegraphed from his first appearance (which is an automatic loss of one review star), so nothing really surprising happens.

One usually doesn’t read this far into a series without developing an attachment or fondness for the characters. It is no different for me here. I genuinely like David and Chris and enjoy their interplay. Sadly, even that couldn’t rescue this book for me. There are so many problems, issues and niggles that I could probably write 73,000 words detailing them. Instead, I will highlight a few and leave the rest for you to find if you’re brave enough to try the book.

Sprinkled throughout the previous books were references to David’s mother Barbara’s lack of acceptance of David’s sexuality and her refusal to attend his and Chris’s wedding. In LA Mischief, David thinks of his “rigid, New England born and bred mother and her Puritan sensibilities and morals.” Graham was more accepting of David, but allowed Barbara to take the lead in their relationship with their son. I mention this because never in the previous books did I ever get the impression that David came from a wealthy, class-conscious family, only that they were extremely uptight. In the New Hampshire scenes, however, this new information is taken to the reader like a lead pipe to the head, repeatedly and with no subtlety. I kept wondering if this was the same David Laine from LA Heat. The man who restored his old car as he could afford it, the man who was so incredibly uncomfortable with Chris’s nearly limitless funds. The two or three (depending on how you count them) days David and Chris spend in the Laine home are awkward, which is the intention, but the dialog is so stilted it borders on the ridiculous. During the confrontation scene, Barbara describes his biological father to David:

If you must know, I made a mistake when I was young and foolish and…and impetuous. I let my head be turned by a charming, but empty, man.”

“Where’d you meet this ’empty man’? At university? You’re a Willerton, of course you went. Some East Coast debutante college no less, I’m sure.” He glanced at his stepfather, then looked away. He didn’t want to see the distress in his eyes.

Also a common theme with Chris is his fear and resentment of David’s work. Seven years into their relationship, Chris still gives guilt trips when David comes home having forgotten to duck a swinging fist. Even after David admits he’s been contemplating retiring from the force, Chris continues to whine about the danger David faces. Chris knew who and what David was when he signed up for their relationship. To spend the next seven years whining and sniping about how “I’m tired of hearing ‘it’s my job'” is ridiculous.

Numerous strange leaps occur, too. At one point, David can apparently tell–totally out of nowhere–that Joel is upset about something that happened hours before, despite the fact that neither man has mentioned it. Later, David says, “I used to fantasize that you were alive–what adopted kid doesn’t, right? That it was all an accident that I was left alone.” Alone? Really? With his mother, stepfather and grandmother. After he’s been arrested, David thinks, “Most homicides are committed by family members. That was a cold, hard fact every cop knew.” Except…according to the 2009 FBI Uniform Crime Report summarized at Top5ofanything.com:

Out of 13,636 murders studied in the United States, 30.2% of the victims were murdered by persons known to them (4,119 victims), 13.6% were murdered by family members (1,855 victims), 12.3% were murdered by strangers (1,676 victims) and 43.9% of the relationships were unknown (investigators were not able to establish any relationship).

PA Brown’s introduction to the book tells that she was living on Bermuda when Hurricane Florence brushed by in 2006. While David and Chris are on the islands, a hurricane comes along, too. But aside from lots of descriptors of sheeting rain and driving winds, it didn’t really stand out as an experience I felt. And I still have no idea why Trev was considered such a bastard in LA Bytes.

Aside from all the above, the biggest problem I had with this book is that, had I not been reading it for this review, I would have quit on it. In fact, the first couple of chapters detailing David’s days on the job were so awkwardly structured (the getaway car, wanting a warrant but leaving it unsecured were my first niggles) and pointless that I nearly stopped reading then. I did take a break when our heroes still had not made it to Bermuda at 18%. A week or so later, when I finally picked up the book again, my impatience and frustration came immediately back. It is not until 24% that David and Chris land on Bermuda.

As much as I really wanted to like it, Bermuda Heat was a colossal disappointment for me. So much so that it will most likely be the last LA series book I read. If you’re such a fan of David and Chris that you must know what happens in Bermuda, then this may be for you. Otherwise, I won’t recommend it.

18 comments

  • Thank you for the review Buda, and after reading your review I’ll probably not purchase the book but wait and see if I can trade for it somewhere.

    I really enjoyed Geography of Murder…Forest, not so much (the second half seemed rather long). Her sci-fi is titled ‘Fall Into The Night’ (not very memorable, and characters not likable).

    So if memory serves, her last three titles Forest of Corpses, Fall Into The Night, and Bermuda Heat have all been less than inspiring *I’m thoroughly bummed*

    …so…anyone have an approximate date for Divide & Conquer (Cut & Run #4)? I need some good news.

    Reply
  • Well pooh, I’ve waited forever for this installment to be released. Now it sounds so disappointing, 😥 and everything you’ve pointed out are exactly the type of flaws that drive me bugnuts while reading :grumble2:

    I love to watch a writer develop, but some just seem to run out of steam after a couple books. Hope that’s not the case for Ms. Brown…but I didn’t much care for her sci-fi book awhile back either.

    Reply
    • Hi, Denni. Thanks for commenting. Like you, I was really looking forward to this book. LA Bytes had given me hope that she was back on track. Unfortunately, not so much. On one hand, I’m sorry to hear we have an eye for the same flaws, since that means you probably wouldn’t enjoy the book any more than I did. On the other hand, I’m glad I could spare you from a frustrating read.

      I haven’t read PA Brown’s sci-book–I didn’t even know one existed. What did you think of the Geography of Murder/Forest of Corpses duo?

      Reply
  • Oh my. I really, really liked LA Heat but have held off on the sequels because of overall poor reviews, and this one cliches it for me. I will lovingly reread LA Heat and pretend it’s a one-off. 🙂 Thanks Buda.

    Reply
    • Hi, Lynn. Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I really liked LA Heat, too, so I’ve struggled with the unevenness of the books that followed. Since you haven’t put yourself through that, I’d say you definitely have the right idea. Re-read LA Heat and enjoy the best of the bunch.

      Reply
  • Wow… A major cold shower. When I saw that it was the next installment in LA Series, I was going to ignore the rating, because everyone’s taste is different and I read some books on the “low side” I enjoyed. But after reading review, I am considering not buying the book at all.
    Thank you for the review!

    Reply
    • Hi, Hellga. I regret that I couldn’t find much in this book to like, not even enough to get it to the magical 3/5 plateau.
      🙁
      Look at it this way. If you decide to read it, you’ll already have had your expectations dashed, so it might be better for you than it was for me. If you do decide to read it, please let me know what your thoughts are. Good luck!

      Reply
  • :wallbash: Buda, why, why don´t I always wait for your reviews? Well, being from the LA series it was a must 😮
    When I started readind it I kept wondering where the book was going because until things started to actually happen (half book onwards maybe) I felt like it was one of these extra shorts done for some series, only that it was getting too long for that :yawn: After that, I tried to enjoy the rest :blink:
    “But aside from lots of descriptors of sheeting rain and driving winds it didn’t really stand out as an experience I felt”: When I was reading the bike ride I kept thinking it was just not possible. Maybe it is, but I didn´t feel it as real 😕 So I get what you mean.
    Since I had seen the other books a lot of time before and I didn´t remember well the details, I didn´t suffer some of the niggles you point out :thinker:
    Anyway, I don´t regret checking it (I would have probably even after your review 😆 ) but I agree it´s the more dissapointing book of the series 🙁
    Thank you for your review 😎

    Reply
    • Hi Helena! :wave:

      OMG the bike-in-the-hurricane scene. Was that not the most ridiculous thing? Did you like how David had never driven (we say rode around here) one before, yet was able to control it through the mud with the wind and rain and Chris “neutralizing” his own weight while hanging on to David? We won’t even talk about how strong those winds were and how improbable the whole chase would have been.
      :hysterics: :hysterics:

      It actually helps me to know that you read it and found it boring and disappointing as well. I was almost afraid I’d just been having a bad few weeks. So, thank you once again for your comments! 😀

      Reply
  • Buda
    WordPress ate my comment which was so eloquent. 🙂 Now I’ll stick to the mundane.

    I reviewed the first book LA Heat which was the best book in the series and after that it was downhill without a brake. How could something that had so much promise end up like this? From what you said in the review, this is your last book in the series and I don’t blame you – I stopped after Book 3 because I couldn’t take the insane plots and even crazier sub plots as well as the incredibly stupid minor characters. Maybe after this book there will be no more fans left, which is exactly what the series deserves.

    Feliz I love the Stones – I just don’t think they should tour any more. 😮

    Reply
    • Hey Wave. You knew this was coming yet I held out hope. Well, the respirator is silent, the lights turned off. We’re calling DOA. And it’s such a shame. LA Heat remains a really good book–in fact, I rec’d it to a friend the other day with the caveat that she stop reading there.

      The true shame of this is that Brown has more talent than is on display here. In many ways it’s like the plot was dreamed up as an excuse to use the location and hurricane experience. I really hope that’s not the case.

      What actually pisses me off is that I still want to know why Chris & David suddenly hated Trevor in book 4. Sadly, my guess is PA Brown herself has no idea.
      :curse:

      Reply
  • Hey Buda,
    it’s too bad when a book of a series you love doesn’t turn out as expected isn’t it? I used to love the LA Heat Series, too, but I opted out of this on purpose since I already felt the series spiral downward with the previous one. It’s like the Rolling Stones: Sometimes you should know to stop while you’re still top-notch.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Feliz. I’m glad to hear Wave and I aren’t the only ones opting out of this series. I actually liked LA Bytes better than any other after LA Heat, but Bytes had its share of issues. With Bermuda, it was like all the issues in the previous books spawned a passel of kids and they just took over the book. It really was ridiculous. I had twice the notes on this book than I’ve ever had before. Most of them started with “WTF?!…”

      Reply

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