Narrator: Vikas Adam
Series: Andy Mills #1
Published by Macmillan Audio on October 18, 2022
Length: 9 hrs 57 mins
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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.
Lavender House was a satisfying mystery, but the characters and setting made it outstanding.
San Francisco, 1952. Andy was a police detective until he was caught in a raid with his pants down at a gay bar. Fired, disgraced, and shunned, he is contemplating throwing himself into the Bay. Then he is approached by Pearl, who asks him to investigate the murder of her wife, Irene Lamontaine, the head of the famous Lamontaine soap empire. Irene was killed at Lavender House, the family estate which is also a haven for the queer Lamontaine family and their staff.
The mystery is fairly straightforward, although there are reasons to suspect most of the members of the household. The author does a good job with the historical part of the mystery, really setting it in its time and place, And the characters are fabulous – loving, hopeful, damaged, afraid, confident.
I listened to the audiobook and while the narrator was sometimes a little too “tough guy” for me, he did lend it a film noir flavor that I ended up appreciating. The second in the series is supposed to come out this fall and I’m definitely looking forward to it.