Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


Book Author: Lev A C Rosen

THE BELL IN THE FOG by Lev AC Rosen: Book Review

San Francisco in 1952 is perhaps the safest place in the country to live if you are gay, but that’s not saying much.  There continues to be harassment from employers, the police, and the U. S. Navy, the latter still having a major presence in the city even though the war is over.

Nevertheless, it’s where Evander “Andy” Mills has settled following his tour of duty.  He’s now a private investigator, living above the Ruby, a gay nightclub, trying to carve out a new career.  His previous one, as a police officer on the city’s force, imploded when his fellow officers realized he was homosexual.

Andy has only one successful case behind him, and he’s looking for business.  A case has found him, however, brought to him in the person he loved while in the Navy and maybe still does.  And maybe the feeling is mutual.

James has remained in the Navy and is up for a major promotion.  Now someone has sent him extremely compromising photos of himself and is demanding ten thousand dollars for them, money that James doesn’t have.  He’ll be court-martialed and possibly imprisoned if the photos are sent to the Navy brass.  He tells Andy he has only five days to get the money or his career is over, and Andy agrees to take the job.

The only person James can think of who might be behind the blackmail is Danny Geller, a man he met several weeks ago; the two spent the night at a local hotel.  As it’s the only lead Andy has, he goes to the home address James gives him, and there he meets Danny’s twin sister Donna.  She tells him Danny has been out of touch for several days and that she doesn’t know where he would have gone.

Andy begins cruising the bar scene around the area, and he discovers that Danny and his sister have been auditioning a singing act at various places.  They received some negative feedback/constructive criticism about their performance that apparently they didn’t appreciate, obviously believing that it was perfect the way it was.

At the first two bars Andy visits, he’s told rather disturbing stories.  In the first instance, the day after the bar’s owner suggested some changes to the Gellers’ act, obscene graffiti was spray-painted on the outside of the club.  In the second, where Danny was working as a waiter, the bar’s safe was cleaned out the same night the proprietor said the duo’s performance wasn’t right for his venue.

Hearing about these incidents, Andy has no trouble believing Danny could be behind the scheme to blackmail James.  His continued investigation, not surprisingly, leads him into ever more dangerous waters in the shadowy gay underworld that is the city’s not-too-well hidden secret.

Lev AC Rosen has written a fascinating study of a time more than three-quarters of a century ago, with the disturbing knowledge that anti-homosexual hatred and bigotry are still very much with us today.  Andy Mills is a brilliant character, unsure of his current feelings for James and how they impact his moving on with his life.

You can read more about the author at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.