The Bell in the Fog by Lev A.C. RosenThe Bell in the Fog by Lev A.C. Rosen
Series: Andy Mills #2
Published by Forge Books on October 10, 2023
Source: Gift
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 261
Format: Hardcover
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The Bell in the Fog, a dazzling historical mystery by Lev AC Rosen, asks―once you have finally found a family, how far would you go to prove yourself to them?

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.

The Bell in the Fog is the second in the Andy Mills series and I do think it’s best to read Lavender House first. It gives a good introduction to Andy and his world, along with a couple of characters who reappear here.

Andy is set up as a private detective now, but because he used to be a cop the community doesn’t trust him, so he’s not getting much business. He lives above Elsie’s bar, the Ruby, and he’s costing it business too, so she’s not making enough to pay the bribes that prevent raids. He needs the money, so when someone from his past wants to hire him to find out who is behind blackmail photos that could threaten his military career, Andy takes the case.

The mystery itself is of course more complicated than it seems at first, and more dangerous. It’s also so connected to Andy’s past that maybe he’s not seeing things as clearly as he should. We’ve got a couple of decent twists and just when the case might be wrapping up, a bigger threat appears.

I appreciate how the story handled the fact that justice is complicated, especially for queer people in San Francisco in 1952. The whole book has a noir feel, but that allows the (few) moments of happiness to shine more.

About Lev A.C. Rosen

Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Lavender House, which the New York Times says “movingly explores the strain of trying to pass as straight at a time when living an authentic life could be deadly” and was a Best Book of the Year from Buzzfeed, Library Journal, Amazon, Bookpage, and others. His prior novel, Camp, was a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show. His next book, Lion’s Legacy will be released in May, The Bell in the Fog in October and Emmett in November. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.

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