Monday, January 14, 2013

Dead in L.A. by Lou Harper

Title: Dead in L.A.
Author: Lou Harper
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Publisher: self
Genre: paranormal
Length: 80 pages

Trouble comes in deceptive packages Still recovering from an accident that left him emotionally and physically battered, Jon's goal is to lead a simple life, free of complications and attachments. His new roommate— a happy-go-lucky bookworm— seems to fit into his plans fine at first. He doesn't find out till later that Leander's also a psychic, specializing in finding lost pets.

Jon's a skeptic when it comes to the supernatural, so he's convinced Leander's a nut job. Jon's beliefs are challenged when Leander has to track down a missing teenager and he ropes Jon into assisting him. Soon the two of them are knee-deep in a decades-old murder case. The hills and valleys of the City of Angels hold many buried secrets, and Leander has a knack for finding them.

Jon's hopes for a trouble-free life go out the window as he's drawn deeper into Leander's psychic sleuthing. Digging into the past poses many dangers, but the biggest risk Jon faces is putting his bruised heart on the line.

Warning: Men loving men, skeletons, and an unlucky Chihuahua.
I was charmed by this set of stories, featuring a bereaved gay man with a complicated past and a low key but generally happy psychic who moves in, initially as a roommate. In spite of Jon’s best intentions, he gets engaged first in Leander’s cases, and then with Leander. Overcoming his skepticism is a bit of a hurdle, but Jon’s intrigued, and then involved.

This seems to be the first in a series of shorts, and we see two complete cases and snippets of others. In the course of Leander’s investigations, ranging from finding a misplaced purse dog to discovering an awful secret, details of the two men come out, and friendship grows.

I enjoyed the style, in first person told by Jon, who’s as loath to give up his secrets as the stray bones are. Trusting in Leander comes hard, because Jon has reason not to trust himself. To call them lovers at this point is a stretch; they’re more like friends with benefits, but the undercurrent is that there could be more.

What this set of stories reminded me of, more than anything, is Sherlock Holmes, because of the mystery arcs and the friendship that is allowed to bloom with time and the small unfolding of details. Nothing felt rushed or forced, and if the two men grow to a more intimate and emotional bonding, that’s fine, and if they remain on this level, it’s a nice spice for the psychic mysteries. More stories will tell. ;D

Leander has to be one of the sweetest and most level headed persons ever, which is both a relief and a puzzle. This is a man who knows if the last person to handle his teacup was angry, but it doesn’t make him bitter or withdrawn. I don’t understand it, but I like it, and wonder how he came to this very sane state when he has to be buffeted by daily life. Jon has fresh grief and has yet to come to terms with it, but exposure to Leander may file some of the sharper edges away.

The author has combined two types of story arcs here –there’s the complete in one segment plot lines, and there are some that remain unresolved, possibly for next time, which will provide a type of continuity. This provides both reading satisfaction for the completeness and a sense of anticipation for the next tale. Which, BTW, Ms Harper, I would like to read! 4.25 marbles

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