cover image Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery

Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery

Katie Gilmartin. Cleis, $16.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-62778-064-3

Set in San Francisco in 1951, Gilmartin's debut artfully combines a murder mystery with a moving portrait of the thriving underground community of gays and lesbians and its institutionalized persecution. Josephine O'Conner comes to the city to find her brother Jimmy O'Conner, a closeted gay ex-cop, who's gone missing. With no help from the police, she searches among various gay gathering places, sometimes dressed as a man. Overcoming the initial distrust of the diverse people she meets, Josephine uncovers a vicious blackmail scheme targeting members of the gay community. Gilmartin effectively uses real sites such as the Black Cat as well as highlighting the laws and mores of the time that resulted in a purge of government employees suspected of being gay. When Josephine's search for answers leads to murder, a homophobic cop tries to shut her down. This is a searing reminder of an ugly time in our recent past. (Nov.)