An Atmospheric Mystery

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Evander “Andy” Mills used to be on the San Francisco PD until he was caught in a compromising position when a gay club was raided. It’s the 1950s and being anything but heterosexual is a serious crime. Andy loses everything when he is exposed. He contemplates ending it all until he is approached with an intriguing offer to investigate the suspicious death of Irene, the matriarch of the Lamontaine soap empire. Irene fell to her death at Lavender House, a secluded estate she turned into a safe haven for those wanting to safely be who they are. But keeping everyone else out means that there could be a murderer living at Lavender House.

This has been described as the “queer Knives Out.” I haven’t seen that movie yet, but I can say it reminded me a lot of the old Clue movie. This is a gritty noir novel with great characterization and a solid mystery. Andy is an MC you can root for, and the supporting characters felt authentic. I don’t know how factual the novel is, but I suspect a lot of it is accurate. I definitely feel like I have a better understanding of how homophobia has changed over the years after reading this book.

It is slower paced than a thriller, but I wouldn’t want to speed through and risk missing any of the nuances that make this such a perfectly atmospheric piece of historical fiction. Fans of traditional detective stories will surely enjoy this modern take on the classic whodunit!

My rating: 4.5/5