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Lavender House: A Novel by Lev AC Rosen
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Lavender House: A Novel (original 2022; edition 2022)

by Lev AC Rosen (Author)

Series: Andy Mills (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24419104,288 (3.96)17
Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. LGBTQIA+ (Fiction.) HTML:

A "Best Of" Book From: Amazon * Buzzfeed * Rainbow Reading * Library Journal * CrimeReads * BookPage * Book Riot * Autostraddle

A delicious story from a new voice in suspense, Lev AC Rosen's Lavender House is Knives Out with a queer historical twist.

Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene's recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret??but it's not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they've needed to keep others out. And now they're worried they're keeping a murderer in.
Irene's widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept??his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.
Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He's seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn't extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy??and Irene's death is only the beginning.
When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can't lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) appl
… (more)

Member:andersonden
Title:Lavender House: A Novel
Authors:Lev AC Rosen (Author)
Info:Forge Books (2022), 288 pages
Collections:LGBTQ+ 2023 Reading, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:mystery

Work Information

Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen (2022)

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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This is a murder mystery whodunit, in the Agatha Christie style. It's a good read on that basis. What makes it different is that the suspects are gay, and live together in a family mansion outside of San Francisco in the early 1950's. They isolate themselves so they can "be themselves".

A detective is hired by the family to investigate the suspicious death of the family matriarch. He is a gay man who was a police detective until he was caught in a police raid on a gay club. He was summarily dismissed from the police force, kicked out of his apartment and at one point, beaten up by one of his former police colleagues. This is a stark reminder of how gay people were treated in the 1950's and it resonated with me for that.

Recommended. ( )
  BrianEWilliams | Jun 25, 2023 |
I received a free ARC copy of this book from a giveaway (thanks, Goodreads!). I'm so glad I did! I'm also glad I didn't let the cover sway my decision to read it (dead animals is a trigger for me, and fair warning/TW/CW--very minor spoiler--there IS a scene where the characters hunt & kill the rabbits that are getting into the garden). I managed to detach from that scene enough to continue reading, and I'm so glad I did! I finished this book a few weeks ago and am STILL thinking about the characters. It was an eye opening glimpse into life in the 1950s for LGBTQIA people. I absolutely adored this book and if the rumors of a sequel are true you can bet I'll be snatching up a copy! Highly recommend, 5/5. ( )
  KennedyRaine | Jun 23, 2023 |
When I picked up this book, I didn't put it together that the author is the same person who wrote Jack of Hearts (and other parts), which is a title that has been high on censorship lists over the past couple of years (including in my own school district). I haven't read that novel, so I didn't really know what to expect. This story is set in 1952 San Francisco. The protagonist is Evander (he goes by Andy but I like Evander better) Mills, a recently-ex-cop who loses his job because he gets swept up in a gay club raid, is outed to his colleagues, and summarily fired. He is contemplating his next move (the future looks pretty grim) when he is offered the opportunity to investigate a suspicious death. The deceased is Irene Lamontaine, the matriarch of a soap company, and (it turns out) a secret gay family. That sounds weird, but it's exactly that. She is gay, her son is gay, and her son's "wife" is gay, and they all live together with their assorted partners and family members in a secluded mansion outside the city. As he digs into the family situation, Andy also has to examine his own life and history, as well as the meaning of family when you're part of a community that is (at that point in history) almost universally reviled -- even illegal. It's an interesting idea, and a not uncommon theme in the world of LGBTQ, since many people who identify as other than heterosexual are forced to create their own families, even now. Andy finds himself drawn to this group, and not really sure how to deal with the openness, after a lifetime of hiding and secrecy. It's a really interesting theme -- a frank and sometimes stark illustration of a time that seems both modern and totally backward in terms of humanity and civility -- and a compelling setting for a murder mystery. ( )
  karenchase | Jun 14, 2023 |
I really wanted to like this one more than I did. I think Rosen has a good concept, but the storyline was too predictable and not very engaging. I knew whodunit as soon as all of the characters were introduced.

Evander Mills - Andy - wasn't a remarkable main character. He's questioning whether life is worth living when he's approached to investigate a murder. I did like seeing him go from contemplating suicide to realizing there might be something worth living for, although I do think the author should have made his mental state more of a focal point.

Whenever a problem arose in the book, it was either solved quickly or ignored completely. Solutions just presented themselves and kept the story from feeling mysterious. I wanted more backstory, more character development, more stick-it-to-the-man moments. Lavender House felt like the bones of a book and it kept me from fully enjoying the story. (★★🟉☆☆)

Blog | Instagram | Amazon ( )
  doyoudogear | Jun 9, 2023 |
Lev AC Rosen has written an intriguing vintage mystery set in the context of a homophobic society in the San Francisco of the 1950’s. Rosen drew a solid picture of these socially-rigid times and developed a cast of characters struggling to live their lives as safely as possible in an overtly-socially-acceptable manner. It was a somewhat noir story but in no way did I find the narrative miserable.

The plot was layered with complexities, based on the main protagonist, Andy Mills, being hired as a private investigator after being thrown out of the police department. He ends up discovering a supportive family group, solving a tricky “not-a-murder” murder, and finds a new lease on life with a future.

Overall, this is an engaging chronicle without so much suspense and tension that the reader becomes involved in excitement and loses sight of the perhaps more singular aspect of the story: this is something of a character study with a coming of age theme, albeit with a man past his youth. The dénouement felt a little bit contrived, but not enough to detract from the story of this era.

I am impressed with the author's writing about life for the queer folk in the 1950's. It’s a history that I’ve not encountered before and it is delightful that Rosen apparently intends to add to the saga of the SFPD detective turned PI after being outed. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | May 28, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Dedication
For Aunt Goldy,

who could absolutely get away with murder.

Maybe she already has.
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I thought I'd have the place all to myself, this early.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fiction. Mystery. Historical Fiction. LGBTQIA+ (Fiction.) HTML:

A "Best Of" Book From: Amazon * Buzzfeed * Rainbow Reading * Library Journal * CrimeReads * BookPage * Book Riot * Autostraddle

A delicious story from a new voice in suspense, Lev AC Rosen's Lavender House is Knives Out with a queer historical twist.

Lavender House, 1952: the family seat of recently deceased matriarch Irene Lamontaine, head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene's recipes for her signature scents are a well guarded secret??but it's not the only one behind these gates. This estate offers a unique freedom, where none of the residents or staff hide who they are. But to keep their secret, they've needed to keep others out. And now they're worried they're keeping a murderer in.
Irene's widow hires Evander Mills to uncover the truth behind her mysterious death. Andy, recently fired from the San Francisco police after being caught in a raid on a gay bar, is happy to accept??his calendar is wide open. And his secret is the kind of secret the Lamontaines understand.
Andy had never imagined a world like Lavender House. He's seduced by the safety and freedom found behind its gates, where a queer family lives honestly and openly. But that honesty doesn't extend to everything, and he quickly finds himself a pawn in a family game of old money, subterfuge, and jealousy??and Irene's death is only the beginning.
When your existence is a crime, everything you do is criminal, and the gates of Lavender House can't lock out the real world forever. Running a soap empire can be a dirty business.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) appl

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