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I picked up Lavender House from my extensive "to be read" list at the start of Pride Month, and I'm very glad I did. The beautiful imagery, the complex characters hidden behind carefully crafted façades, and the exploration of what defines a family make this queer historical murder mystery a very worthwhile read.
—Clare— From Staff Picks
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.
"Lev AC Rosen’s lushly rendered mystery, Lavender House, sets the detective novel on its head. There's the dishonored policeman sitting on a barstool in 1950's San Francisco and the elegant woman who slides in next to him with a job. But this femme's wife has been murdered, and the day-drinking cop has been brutally ousted from his job for being gay. Rosen’s smart, bittersweet tale plays with the oldest truth of all: the price we pay for our identity in America." –Walter Mosley
"Movingly explores the strain of trying to pass as straight at a time when living an authentic life could be deadly." –New York Times Book Review on Lavender House
“Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen is a new take on a Golden Age crime novel. Its 1950s setting is richly cinematic, with gin martinis, bananas foster and a fantastic mid-century soundtrack... Everything about the crime — the perpetrator, the victim, the motive — has a deeper meaning." –Washington Post
"Rosen’s deftly clued, noir-tinged plot successfully walks the line between hope and heartbreak, all while thoughtfully exploring the role of family in our lives. This fresh take on the classic private investigator begs to be brought to the big screen." –Library Journal, starred review
"Tightly spun and utterly immersive, Lev AC Rosen delivers a deliciously twisty and queer whodunnit in Lavender House. With a mid-century mystery as sprawling as its titular mansion, the velvet knives in this one are sharp as hell." –P. J. Vernon, author of Bath Haus
"Funny, heartbreaking and eye-opening, Rosen's Lavender House is unlike any crime novel I've ever read." –Rachel Howzell Hall, bestselling author of These Toxic Things
"Lavender House is a fabulous, genre-bending mystery-noir, told with wit, panache and style. Lev Rosen is one of a kind and just gets better and better—his eye for characters is both acerbic and compassionate, and his story-telling is top notch." –Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk
“Lavender House is the best kind of noir novel - steeped in the tropes of the genre but unafraid to invert, modernize, and tweak them. Sharply written, loaded with characters you can’t forget, and a can’t-miss San Francisco setting, Lavender House is the queer amateur PI novel you need right now.” –Alex Segura, acclaimed author of Secret Identity, Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall, and Miami Midnight
"Ingenious, riveting, and utterly heartbreaking– Philip Marlowe meets Agatha Christie meets Knives Out in this twisty and sophisticated take on mid-century noir. A perfectly crafted locked-mansion mystery—starring an irresistible main character who reveals the passions and pretenses of his time, as well as the dark secrets of a captivating family. Lavender House is an absolute treasure, and Lev AC Rosen is a star. Standing ovation!" –Hank Phillippi Ryan USA Today bestselling author of Her Perfect Life
"This book’s real pleasure lies in the richly realized portrayal of its cast and their personal struggles. Rosen puts a welcome gay spin on the traditional country house whodunit." –Publishers Weekly
"Readers who love queer history, complicated family dynamics, flawed characters and a good murder mystery will be eager for more. Perfect for fans of Knives Out, Lavender House is a queer, mid-century take on the family-centric murder mystery showcasing Lev AC Rosen's masterful character development." –Shelf Awareness
"Terrific... a brisk, entertaining novel...Rosen’s novel is a winning homage to old-time crime fiction." –San Francisco Chronicle