Review: Lavender House

Title: Lavender HouseAuthor: Lev AC RosenPublished: 2022Summary: The year is 1952, and Andy is a recently disgraced investigator on the San Francisco police force. Despite the rollicking local queer scene, Andy has never been able to be out and proud, and instead used his insider knowledge to avoid the clubs getting busted by his colleagues. His secret finally catches up to him, so he decides to get drunk enough to throw himself into the bay when he is approached by a woman named Pearl. Pearl knows his secret and wants to hire him to investigate the death of her wife, Irene.What I Liked:

  • When talking about this book, I described it as a “gay murder mystery.” Several times, I got asked if the detective was gay or if the suspects were gay. The answer is: both. Almost every single person in the entire book is queer, which is the opposite of tokenism and I am here for it.The ending was absolutely perfect. I won’t spoil it, but I felt it wrapped up the themes in a satisfying way.I am against what I call “copaganda,” or the insistence on painting the police as heroes in fiction. Despite the main character being a former police detective, he is regularly forced to confront the evils of the system he upheld, and I really appreciated that.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The only thing I didn’t like was the inclusion of some hate-crimey violence. It was very explicit and felt unnecessary, a harsh reality that intruded on an otherwise relatively cozy story.

Rating: 4/5.I’m not rating it a full 5 stars because it isn’t one of my favorite books of all time, but it is extremely solid, and queer people who like murder mysteries better than I do should definitely pick it up.


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