Tag: los angeles
As I prepare for my trip to Los Angeles for the 2010 Left Coast Crime conference, my newest release, L.A. Boneyard is getting noticed.
It’s been nominated for Love Romances Cafe’s 2009 Best GBLT Novel. I’m pumped. It’s also been nominated for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel (Arthur Ellis is the biggest Canadian mystery award) and the Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense.
Check out my web site for more information on this and all my other novels, http://www.pabrown.ca
“L.A. Boneyard is phenomenal! Full of suspense, murder, mystery and even explicit sex, Brown left nothing out! What more could you ask for in one book?” Read the rest of the review: http://bk-walker.livejournal.com/6013.html
“The crimes are as turbulent as the gay-cop emotions in this CSI-meets-butch-guys-in-love romantic thriller. Pat Brown has as
sharp an eye for crime-scene forensics as for the ins and outs of gay love among LA’s men in blue.”
author of the Don Strachey PI novels
L.A. Boneyard, book 3 in the L.A. series, is getting rave reviews. To learn more and find reviews and buy links visit: http://www.pabrown.ca/laboneyard.htm
Evil is pursued from a shallow grave in Griffith Park, to the streets of West Hollywood into the dark heart of the gang-infested streets of East L.A.
Detective David Eric Laine is no stranger to violence and brutality, but even he is taken back at the sheer viciousness of the murder of two pregnant Ukrainian women. This was just the beginning of a baffling case which would lead from their shallow grave to a bucolic bungalow community in West Hollywood, tree-lined and tranquil, to the heart of the gang-infested streets of East Los Angeles, and points in between.
Friday, 8:20 AM, Vista del Valle Drive, Griffith Park, Los Angeles
Something had done a number on the corpse.
The early morning call-out had been brief and to the point.
Griffith Park. Shallow grave. Mutilated arm. Probably wild
LAPD homicide detective David Eric Laine hoped it was
animals. He crouched beside the makeshift grave, behind the
screen of freshly broken branches and crushed vegetation,
studying the exposed arm with the manicured nails and winking
diamond ring; the animals had nearly worked off the bone.
Wondering what her final moments had been like. Knowing it
had been ugly. He looked beyond the grave, visualizing. Had he
raped her? Had that been the last indignity she had suffered,
before the ultimate one?
Overhead, dense black clouds roiled across the western sky,
a late Pineapple Express had roared in last night, straight from
Hawaii, promising more rain in an already wet spring. The
chaparral and Ceanothus had started their seasonal bloom, thin
green shoots emerging from what had once been desiccated
limbs. Under foot the moisture retaining hydro-mulch, spread
after the ravaging 2007 and 2008 fires, soaked his feet, chilling
his skin. The steady thump-thump of the LAPD airship called
in to do an aerial survey echoed his heartbeat, driving him
relentlessly, as unforgiving of failure as he was.
David scanned the ground, taking in the fresh horse tracks,
and the fading coyote spore. The animals had scattered when
the woman who found the body nearly rode her horse over
them. She stood with her shoulder touching her horse’s neck,
the animal’s reins still held in her gloved hand. Blindly she
touched the burnished chestnut coat, seeking comfort. David
turned away; he had nothing to give her. His promises were for
the dead. They didn’t ask for guarantees. They didn’t get angry
when he was called away in the middle of the night to do his
“So what have we got?” he asked.
The first officer on the scene, Donald Lessing, pulled out his
notes, “I received a call at seven-fifty-six AM that a body had
been discovered in a shallow grave. My partner and I were
dispatched, and arrived about fifteen minutes later.” He
indicated his partner, a paunchy, silver-haired Asian, who was
adding a second loop of barrier tape to keep out the curious,
then indicated the equestrienne, “We found Mrs. Rosenfield
right about where she is now. She was pretty upset.”
“I’m sure the last thing she expected to find was a dead
body on her morning ride.”
Nothing could be done to process the crime scene until the
photographers had taken their shots. Everything had to be kept
intact to preserve possible evidence. They had the time; the
body wasn’t going anywhere. In the distance, thunder rumbled.
He amended that, maybe they didn’t have so much time.
David studied the dark, crouching clouds, and wondered if
Chris would get over his snit long enough to close the windows
against the coming rain. Otherwise their newly refinished oak
floors were going to get a soaking. One more thing for Chris to
get pissed at. He retraced his steps and approached the horse
He pulled out a notebook and twisted his arm around to
check the time, only to discover he wasn’t wearing his watch.
Right, he’d stuffed it into his jacket pocket after he’d left an
angry Chris in bed this morning. Chris always seemed to be
angry these days. He got that way when he was between jobs.
He drew out the Rolex Chris had given him for his fortieth
birthday and wrote the exact time, the crime scene location, and
his own name and rank. David studied the watch ruefully. He
had told Chris a gift like that was too extravagant, but Chris
wouldn’t listen. “You deserve it,” he had said. “You put up with
me for four years, didn’t you?” Still, David took it off when he
could; out of sight of Chris, who took it as a personal affront
when he didn’t wear it all the time. David was a Timex kind of
guy. Even after four years he never got comfortable with the
easy wealth Chris displayed.
Mrs. Rosenfield looked young. David doubted she was more
than twenty-five. Under normal circumstances she would have
been attractive–large, doe eyes, soft hair flying loose from
under her riding helmet. But now her face was pale, and her
eyes were glassy with shock. David pushed aside his sympathy
and assembled his cop face; the one Chris hated so much,
claiming it made him look cold and robotic. Well, there were
times when cold and robotic was the right way.
She wore a tailored riding outfit and boots that gleamed,
even in the sunless light. A pulse beat in her throat, like a
“Mrs. Rosenfield,” he said. “I’m Detective David Eric Laine.
Could I have your full name, please?”
“Danielle,” she said. “Just call me Danielle.” Her gaze darted
toward the grave. “Who is it? Do you know–?”
“No, ma’am, Danielle, we don’t know that yet. Can you take
me back to when you first spotted something out of the
“S-sure.” She visibly collected herself, her hand going out to
stroke her horse’s neck. “Toby and I were on our morning ride,
when these coyotes came racing right out under our noses–I
thought they were attacking us at first. You hear about how
bold they’ve gotten over the years.”
“Yes, ma’am.” What coyotes could do was frightening. What
people could do to each other was so much worse. “What
“Once they ran away I realized they were just as scared as
we were. I was going to head back home. I’m supposed to be to
work at ten.” She shook her head, a strand of hair falling over
her eyes. She swept it aside with a kidskin gloved hand. “I guess
I should call my boss. I don’t think I’ll be in today–” Her voice
“Yes, ma’am,” David said gently. “What was the first thing
you noticed before the coyotes appeared?”
“Toby spooked.” Rosenfield grimaced. “I guess when he got
wind of them. He nearly dumped me. That was when I saw the
arm. I screamed. That must have scared them away without
taking…taking it with them.” The grimace deepened and the
flesh around her mouth whitened.
More thunder cracked, closer this time. She looked around
“Anything else you can recall about your ride?” David asked
even more gently, knowing she was very close to losing it.
“Before you noticed anything amiss?”
“We rode by the Roosevelt Municipal golf course,” she said.
“I go that way all the time. Usually it’s so peaceful…”
“You see anybody on the links?”
“Two players, and a caddie.” Rosenfield squinted as she
recalled her morning. “I don’t pay much attention to the
golfers, unless they’re driving carts. Sometimes they spook
“Would you recognize the golfers if you saw them again?”
“W-what? You don’t think they had anything to do with
this, do you?”
“It’s just standard procedure,” David assured her. “Look, I
know this is tough. Even cops can have a hard time stumbling
across something like this. If you like, I can give you the
number of a victim’s support group. They can help you with
this, if you want.”
“T-thank you. I don’t think that’s necessary…”
David handed her the card anyway. “You might change your
mind. I hear they’re good.”
She slipped the card into her jacket pocket. He knew she
wouldn’t call. He’d seen it before. Misplaced pride would keep
her from seeking help. “What did you see then?” he prompted.
“I didn’t know what it was at first, then I thought it was a
mannequin.” She gave a short bark of laughter, quickly stifled.
“That someone had stolen a storefront dummy and was playing
a gag. It was only after I saw the teeth marks that I knew.” She
swallowed convulsively and David wondered if she was going to
be sick. The human arm had been heavily gnawed by strong
jaws. He distracted her as smoothly as he could.
“I need you to come down to the station, to make a formal
statement. I can send someone out to get you if you like–”
“No, that’s okay. I’ll drive myself. Will I have to go to
“I won’t lie to you. It depends on the D.A., and whether a
suspect is found, and it all makes it to court. But I’m sure
someone from the prosecutor’s office will be in touch with you
if it becomes necessary.”
David watched her stiffly remount her horse and urge it
back onto the trail. They broke into a fast trot before they were
out of sight. He very much doubted she would ever ride this
peaceful trail again.
Out of the corner of his eye, David saw a white Pontiac
Firehawk, splattered with debris from the previous night’s rain,
pull up beside the LAPD crime scene van. It was driven by a
lithe, dark-skinned Latino man, with that young urban scruffy
beard thing going on. Chris, always quick to adopt new fads,
had tried it once, until David complained that it was like kissing
five o’clock shadow, all day long, and he reluctantly shaved it
The Latino climbed out of the low-slung car. He surveyed
the scene of controlled chaos with dark eyes, taking in
everything in a sweeping glance, before he shrouded them with
a pair of Ray Bans. He looked like he just stepped out of GQ,
sharp creases on his wool dress pants and sedate black and blue
tie. He wore his gold detective’s badge on a chain around his
neck. David caught a glimpse of his Beretta nine under his
LAPD blue nylon wind breaker. Incongruously, he wore a pair
of hand-tooled black and blue Tony Lamas boots instead of the
usual military gear most new detectives favored. David wouldn’t
be surprised if he had a closet full of Levis and Stetsons at
home. 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.
Already the eyes of the two female SID criminologists kept
straying his way. David had heard rumors about the guy, even
before he was assigned to Northeast; he’d ignored them at the
time, like he ignored all the trash talk around the squad room.
In the stories the guy was a wannabe actor. David had heard–
and dismissed–the story about his involvement with a
producer’s wife that had ended messily. The tabloid press had
been all over it. Maybe the guy had a problem keeping his dick
in his pants. Maybe he was only guilty of bad judgment. He
wouldn’t be the first. Cops and badge bunnies went together
like chili and fries.
David extended his hand and introduced himself. Might as
well give the guy the benefit of a doubt, he didn’t like it when
people jumped to conclusions about him. Being one of the few
openly gay detectives carried its own baggage. “Glad to have
you on board.”
“Thank you, sir,” the detective said. “Detective Jairo Garcia
Hernandez.” He pronounced it Yairo. “Most gringos call me
Jerry.” His smile was all teeth and David knew he was being
tested by the new D.
He’d nip that one in the bud before it went south. “I think I
can handle Jairo.” He gave the word a Spanish lilt. The guy
wasn’t going to catch this gringo ignorant of the language.
Good looking or not, he was just another rookie D.
Jairo saw the Rolex on his wrist and whistled. “Nice watch.
Your wife give you that?”
“No, I’m not married,” David said. Deciding to make small
talk, he ventured, “You?”
“How’s that going for you?” Cops loved marriage; so many
of them did it so often.
“Fine.” Jairo grew defensive. “You gonna tell me that’s
gonna change? Already got that from my smart-ass sergeant
first time I showed up for roll-call.”
“It’s hard,” was all David said. “Marriage is a work in
“So you were married? She divorce you?”
David shrugged. He finally slipped the Rolex off and tucked
it back into his inner pocket, over his heart. It would be safer
there, away from nosy rookies. “It’s complicated.” Then he saw
Jairo had noticed the plain gold band he wore on his left ring
finger. The gold band Chris had given him following the first
year they had lived together. He closed his hands into fists, but
made no attempt to hide the thing. What was the use? He was
almost as notorious in the LAPD as Mark Fuhrman.
Jairo’s disingenuous eyes widened. “You’re the… you’re
David saw something glitter on the ground at the entrance
to the crime scene, and crouched down to study it. It was a
bottle cap. Still, he signaled a photographer over to take a
picture. Sometimes the littlest things proved useful. Sometimes
they were just litter. All around them crime scene techs were
placing evidence flags, and doing their best to catch everything,
before the skies opened up. He was glad to see that the victim’s
hands had been bagged, covering the ring he had seen earlier.
“You can say it, you know.” David stood up and brushed debris
off his pants. “I’m the gay cop.”
Jairo flushed and looked away. “Yes, sir.”
Now what was that all about? Surely as soon as he knew
who his latest senior partner was going to be, Jairo would have
known all about David’s sordid “secret.” He would have found
all kinds of officers eager to share the scuttlebutt about who
he’d been saddled with. “That’s Detective, Hernandez.” David
was already beginning to miss Martinez, his partner of ten years.
He had been reassigned to South-Central, for the next six
months, to work a gang detail. They had forged a tight
partnership; a partnership that even David’s abrupt outing over
four years ago had not disrupted. David wasn’t looking forward
to breaking in the new kid, even if he was, as rumor also
claimed, top of his graduating class. Good grades, like good
looks, weren’t everything.
He moved around to stand beside the grave again. A tarp
had been laid over the torn earth to protect against the coming
storm. He thought he could still see the outline of the arm. He
glanced sideways when a flash of lightning illuminated the dense
brush. He almost felt sorry for the boots who was going to have
to guard this site all night.
He turned back to face the grave and its nameless victim.
Jairo came up to stand beside him. David kept his eyes on the
tarp, ignoring the man beside him.
“I’ll find him,” he promised.
How do I kill thee?
Let me count the ways.
There are few sights more awesome than flying into Los Angeles at night. You’re high above a pitch-dark desert and then, it seems to happen all at once, you are sailing over a carpet of sparkling jewels. The plane slows, time stands still, and the glittering lights go on and on, as far as the eye can see. Could anything, you wonder, really be so vast?
Yes, it is. And therein lies a problem when one tries to write about the city, and particularly when one wants to write about the mysteries of the city: which city, exactly? Because there are a myriad of L.A.s, encompassing both time and space, and all of them steeped in mystery, murder, violence.
There’s the split personality L.A. of the thirties and forties, rigidly conservative on the outside, wildly bohemian on the inside (for inside, read: the film set); there’s the noir L.A. of the forties and fifties; the suddenly sophisticated L.A. of the eighties and nineties, the jam packed road rage city of the new century. (continue reading…)