The Bell in the Fog

Read The Bell in the Fog by Lev AC Rosen

San Francisco, 1952. Detective Evander “Andy” Mills has started a new life for himself as a private detective—but his business hasn’t exactly taken off. It turns out that word spreads fast when you have a bad reputation, and no one in the queer community trusts him enough to ask an ex-cop for help.

When James, an old flame from the war who had mysteriously disappeared, arrives in his offices above the Ruby, Andy wants to kick him out. But the job seems to be a simple case of blackmail, and Andy’s debts are piling up. He agrees to investigate, despite everything it stirs up.

The case will take him back to the shadowy, closeted world of the Navy, and then out into the gay bars of the city, where the past rises up to meet him, like the swell of the ocean under a warship. Missing people, violent strangers, and scandalous photos that could destroy lives are a whirlpool around him, and Andy better make sense of it all before someone pulls him under for good.

I recently found out about The Bell in the Fog, the second tome to the Lavender House series (of which I enjoyed book 1). Set a few months after the first tome, it has (slightly) fewer police beatings of gay men and (much) more gruesome deaths.

It’s pretty good, in other words.

This one isn’t a whodunnit as much as the previous one, although the basic premise is similar: a body is found, I wonder who it is, oh no blackmail, being gay is dangerous, I have restored justice yay. But this time, instead of being in a mansion of the Bay Area with one wealthy family, we discover the gay San Francisco and the adventures of a handful of queer ex-soldiers in a pre-Lavender scare military.

This more open setting really helped me find my footing in the novel and I enjoyed it much more than Lavender House, which was already pretty good.


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