Short reviews of books and films
L A Heat, by P A Brown
This was P A Brown’s first novel in the series about Detective Laine and Christopher Bellamere. Laine is a closeted cop; Bellamere is a beautiful, A-list gay, well dressed, well groomed, well paid. He is also the prime suspect in Laine’s case where a serial killer is brutally killing gays. Laine finds Bellamere attractive. Worse, against all the rules, he falls for him. Bellamere finds himself falling for a straight-acting macho cop. The novel’s a page-turner, and I found even on the second reading that it was hard to put down. The growth and development of the love between the two men is beautifully described, and although this was P A Brown’s first novel, it doesn’t really show it.
Highly recommended (it’s out of print, but there are second-hand copies as well as a Kindle edition. You can buy the e-book here.)
Steel Blues, by Melissa Scott & Jo Graham
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to collaborate on a novel with another author. On the one hand, you must both like the story and the characters, which might be a negative. On the other, the other author in the partnership can inspire and encourage you in your creation of your characters and your plot line. Clearly the collaboration between Scott and Graham is a huge success—they have worked together on this novel so well the result sings as it races along.
This story, set in the 30s, is a sequel to Lost Things, also a rattling good yarn, though it works very well as a stand-alone novel. The Great Depression has hit, the unemployment rate is 25%, jobs are non-existent, and Gilchrest Aviation, owned by Alma Segura, looks as if it’s going to go under. There’s a coast-to-coast air race, with a purse of $25,000. There’s only one snag. They don’t have the entry fee. So they fly to California to see Henry Kershaw, who is a fellow aviator, and wealthy. And that’s when their troubles begin. Because a cursed magical necklace belonging to Kershaw is stolen, and since they are Aedificatorii Templi, a magical lodge, dedicated to saving the world, they get involved. Especially since both the necklace and its thief turn up on their plane. At several thousand feet. Over the desert. And it just gets worse from there.
The authors nicely blend the occult with an entirely authentic-feeling 1930s; a thrilling air race; a realistic (for the time) acceptance of gay relationships; and well delineated characters. Once you start reading it, you’ll find it impossible to put down. In an odd way, it is reminiscent of Dick Francis’ gripping thriller, Flying Finish, the ending of which has to be one of his most nail-biting. That thriller also involves planes, and clearly, at least one of Scott and Graham has piloted planes. No research can be that good.
Often supernatural thrillers don’t convince. Steel Blues does, not because of the particular story line (even though it’s entertaining and intricate) but because of the peripheral detail, the characterisation, the snappy dialogue, and the way all the pieces neatly interlock to make a satisfying whole.
Not just readable but re-readable. A highly recommended page turner.