Book Reviews

Book Review: Lavender House

By Lev AC Rosen

Published October 2022

288 Pages

1952:  Evander (Andy) Mills has found out the hard way what happens when someone is outed as homosexual.  Caught in a gay club raid, he’s stripped of his detective badge and thrown out of the SFPD.  On the verge of committing suicide, Andy is hired to investigate the mysterious death of Irene Lamontaine, the scion of a soap-making family empire.  But Irene’s husband didn’t hire Andy, her wife Pearl did.

Andy soon finds himself ensconced in the Lamontaine mansion, where everyone in the family shares Andy’s secret and creates a safe space to be themselves.  But even their iron gates can’t keep all of the ugliness out, as Andy discovers when it becomes more and more apparent that a member of the family murdered Irene.  The only question is who?  And why?  With a house containing more secrets than people, some might be better left undisturbed.

“Lavender House” interpreted by Wombo Dream

I think the cover caught my eye first with this novel, but I soon got swept up in the history in its pages.  I’ll admit that I’ve never given much thought to this time period (the 1950s) beyond what I’ve been fed in history class and reruns like “Leave it to Beaver”, namely baseball, apple pie, and nuclear families.  But there’s a whole other history presented here, one where if you weren’t a normative heterosexual you’d better fake it and hope no one finds out.  It was eye opening, to say the least.

Beyond that, I genuinely liked Andy’s character, as well as the other members of the family and staff (Pat was a stand out for me).  While the investigation was fairly methodical and tame with only one or two “wths?” that left me scratching my head, it was well plotted and had a few great red herrings. While the murderer wasn’t a complete surprise, I wasn’t 100% sure until the reveal.  Which is what I’m always looking for in a mystery.

To wrap up, great characters I’d like to continue seeing and a solid set up for the next book.

3.5/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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