L.A. Heat by P. A. Brown – review

Rating: 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ Title: L.A. Heat
Author: P. A. Brown
Genre: Detective, mystery, contemporary
URL: Bristlecone Pine Press through Amazon (Kindle) / Mobipocket
Price:US $6.99
Other Information/warnings: Explicit m/m, violence, gore, references to rape,
Summary [from the publisher]:
In L.A. Heat, a serial killer is on the loose in Los Angeles and he’s targeting gay men. LAPD Detective David Laine–himself gay but deeply closeted–is assigned to the case with his homophobic partner, Martinez Diego. The nature of the crimes and the brutalization of the victims bring disturbing emotions to the surface for David. Laine and his partner have a suspect: Christopher Bellamere–an openly gay California “golden boy” who crossed paths with two of the victims before their deaths. But when cop and suspect meet, an immediate attraction complicates the case and David Laine’s very private life. As David works to find the killer–and Chris works to clear his name–they both seek to understand the complex feelings that are growing between them.

My review: I love cop stories, and when they come with the m/m element, I can’t resist them. However, this must be the fifth or sixth book I’ve read this year – not even counting the series – which features a closeted gay cop and his homophobic partner, investigating a crime against gay men, with the gay cop falling for the chief suspect or victim. The plot of this novel isn’t going to rock anyone’s boat as startlingly original.

It’s not. But what it is, is gritty and authentic, with two really attractive and likeable lead characters, and a wealth of lesser ones, though some verge a bit on the cartoonish, like the villain himself. David’s partner, Martinez, sounded a bit too much like standard homophobic cop to me, but then again, I have no idea if that’s drawn from life. The author manages to make him rounded, regardless, and even likeable. Chris’ friends, Becky and Des, are also good supporting players.

But Chris and David are what makes this work. Chris is someone apparently who has it all, but can’t seem to find Mr Right. David is a good man who has to keep his true nature under wraps, and the stress is beginning to tell on him. They’re conspicuously competent, believably attractive and attracted, and their interactions, sexual or otherwise, are very nice to read.

The plot is solid and well-paced, twisty enough to keep my interest and although I suspected the bad guy long before the ending, I didn’t feel it was telegraphed all that bluntly. The denouement was fast and riveting, and generally the story kept my interest very well – I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it.

There were a couple of editing and formatting blurgies in this, and I don’t like the use of the word ‘cum’ in a serious story at all, but generally the text was clean and the writing workmanlike, though it could have been sharper. No head-hopping, though particularly in the beginning the way the author introduced her descriptions of characters, major and minor, made me grit my teeth a couple of times. None of these issues ruined my enjoyment of the story, and when I finished, I was disappointed that there wasn’t any more of the book to come.

The author plans a sequel, which I will certainly be looking forward to. L.A.Heat is a good, gripping and entertaining read, and I recommend it.