cover image The Bell in the Fog

The Bell in the Fog

Lev A.C. Rosen. Forge, $27.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-250-83425-6

Rosen’s gripping second investigation for Andy Mills, San Francisco’s “only queer detective” (after 2022’s Lavender House), takes place in the city’s early 1950s underground gay scene. Andy, who was fired from the SFPD when his superiors learned he was gay, is still struggling to find clients for his private detective agency. One afternoon, James Morris, a captain in the Navy and Andy’s former lover, walks into his office. Though Andy is still scarred by their breakup (James left seven years earlier without saying goodbye), the PI can’t afford to turn down work, and soon learns that James is being blackmailed with explicit photographs after a tryst with a young man named Danny. With his Navy career in the balance, James asks Andy to retrieve the photos and negatives for him. Andy’s search takes him on a dizzying tour of San Francisco’s gay and lesbian clubs, but Danny is nowhere to be found, and flashes of Andy’s own past threaten to muddy the investigative waters. Andy is an appealing—if melancholy—protagonist, and Rosen’s candid portrayal of the casual cruelties perpetrated on queer people in the 1950s provides a novel and edifying foundation for a traditional mystery. Readers will be ready for the next Mills adventure as soon as this one ends. (Oct.)