L. A. Boneyard by P.A. Brown

Blurb: 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?

My thoughts: P.A. Brown is a new author for me and when L.A.Boneyard came my way I was first unsure whether to read it because it is a sequel to another story. I prefer reading things in a chronological order, but I was told it would be ok to read as a stand alone.

The story turned out to focus evenly on the murder plot as well as on actual romance. I wasn’t prepared for that, but once I got into the story I totally forgot that I originally read it because of the romance factor.

The plot developed quite rapidly with three bodies turning up rather quickly. The Ukrainian angle made it sort of of exotic (even though to me Ukraine is not quite as far away) and it was interesting to learn about various traditions.

I know nothing about police work and police procedures, especially in the US, but the descriptions of all the activities were very detailed and sounded realistic.  Never heard of forensic anthropologists and forensic botanists before.  I could picture all those police raids, interrogations, the world of gangs and trafficking in my mind.

I even liked to read the side plot with the abandoned dog. Usually I don’t like animals that take up more room in the story than a cat sitting on a sofa, but I didn’t mind Sergeant. He was a nice relaxing factor in a story that was otherwise rather gruesome.

As for the characters and their private entanglements. Since I didn’t read the prequel I had no preconceived opinions about David or Chris. At first there was hardly any interaction between them. Due to David’s workload and Chris’ new contract their contact was more or less limited to short meetings at home and even shorter phone calls. I didn’t feel any chemistry whatsoever between the two men.

A bit more into the book I realized that the story wasn’t so much a budding romance, but rather about how two people try to save a relationship that threatens to go awry. David’s unwelcome desire for Jairo and his resulting bad conscience and Chris’ increasing fear that something is wrong without knowing exactly what were described very well.  From being totally unsuspecting Chris turns into someone who’s reading things into every of David’s acts.

At that point I got slightly annoyed with Chris. He knew that Jairo was rather manipulative and still, at a short remark of Jairo’s, he goes and has the locks changed, just when he had started to get around again. He often seemed to react out of a gut feeling with having second thoughts immediately afterwards. This is where his friend Des came into play, to put things back into the right perspective. I came to like Des very much in the course of the book.

Both strands were wrapped up nicely in the end with no loose ends. If there is something I have to complain about it is the frequent use of abbreviations and police speak that I had no clue about. It might be that to native speakers this would have been all clear, though, and it is my own lack of knowledge that was the problem.

If you like contemporary detective stories paired with a story about an existing realistic relationship, read it. If you like hot sex scenes on every other page without substance, don’t!

Available at MLR Press

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