A Forest of Corpses – P.A. Brown (MLR Press)

Buy it now direct from MLR Press or from our Amazon.com store – A Forest of Corpses

It’s happened to you, I know it has. You have a few moments
to spare, so you pick up a book and read the first page and then you’re hooked.
You have to read more and before you know it, you’re late for work or school or
whatever. All because of that damn book. That’s what happened to me with P.A.
Brown’s A Forest of Corpses.

Alexander Spider, a homicide detective with the Santa
Barbara PD, and his young lover, Jason Zachary, were first seen in Brown’s The
Geography of Murder
. As this book opens, they’ve been together a stormy
seven months. For some alone and down time, Zachary convinces Spider to hike
with him into a national forest. Although out of his element, Spider begins to
like roughing it—until they run across a couple of decomposing bodies and a
huge marijuana farm, that is. One of them is shot and the other must make it
past the growers and get help.

Brown has fashioned a nice, tense plotline and follows it
well, fleshing it out with two very interesting characters in Spider and
Zachary, who enjoy a master/submissive relationship. Big bad policeman Spider
is, naturally, the master but one of the joys of this book is watching that
master role switch back and forth according to the situation the couple is in.
And once the pair hits the forest, the book takes off like a bear with the
smell of blood in its snout.

Oddly enough, the book starts off with sixty pages of Spider
investigating a shooting in the city. That episode was engaging enough to catch
my interest, but I kept expecting it to hook up somehow with the hiking trip
plotline and was ultimately disappointed it didn’t. The more I thought about
it, the more I wondered why it was there. Similarly, after the forest rescue
takes place (okay, you knew there had to be one, right?), the
nursing-back-to-health interlude before the happy ending (and you knew there
had to be one of these as well, right?) seemed to take an inordinately
long time, and I wondered why.

In between those, however, is a fast-paced, breathless read
that will have you amazed at Brown’s ingenuity in foiling the enemy so our
heroes can triumph. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say Brown
uses the forest’s own resources to resolve the situation.

A Forest of Corpses is a worthy entry in this
particular series, a well-paced and engagingly populated book. The question is,
will there be a sequel?

Does a bear scat in the woods?

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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