Gary Frazier

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In 1952 San Francisco, homosexuality is illegal and largely frowned upon by society. But the gates of the titular Lavender House keep an extended LGBTQ+ family safely tucked away from the persecution and discrimination of the outside world, able to live their lives without judgment or reprisal. This shelter and sense of belonging comes thanks to their benefactor and matriarch, soap entrepreneur Irene Lamontaine.

If only they were able to keep their own petty jealousies and rampant ambitions in check. But this is not the case in Lev AC Rosen’s twisty new mystery. Irene soon turns up dead, and one of Lavender House’s denizens may be responsible for her demise.

Enter Evander “Andy” Mills, an ex-police detective who was fired after being caught in a raid at a gay bar. Irene’s widow (in all but name), Pearl, hires him to find the killer in their midst. The mystery is told through Andy’s point of view, and readers will share his fascination with the unique life afforded the inhabitants of Lavender House and deeply empathize with his position as an outsider struggling to find his own place in the world.

Lev AC Rosen is breaking new ground for noir.

Rosen quickly turns the Agatha Christie-esque elements of the mystery on their head with a dynamic cast of characters and an inimitable take on hard-boiled noir that revels in the foggy atmosphere of San Francisco while also highlighting the characters’ angst and inner turmoil. Readers familiar with Rosen’s young adult novel Camp, which follows LGBTQ+ teens at a utopia-like conclave, will enjoy this deeper, darker examination of what it means to be a queer person in a homophobic world.

In Lavender House, Rosen not only thoroughly entertains mystery lovers but also ups the ante by presenting a thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be free to love who you love.

Mystery lovers will be thoroughly entertained by Lavender House, a thoughtful noir that examines midcentury LGBTQ+ life with a cast of dynamic characters.
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“Goodnight, pretty girl.”

Those are the last words Ella remembers before she blacked out on the night she became the lone survivor of an attempted quadruple murder at a Blockbuster Video on the eve of the new millennium. Fifteen years later, another survivor of a similar murderous spree recalls the killer saying the exact same words to her.

Ella, now a physical therapist, is enlisted to help the latest victim, Jesse, but in doing so must face her own memories of her horrific past. Ella works alongside FBI agent Sarah Keller, who is tasked with uncovering the connection between the two cases, and Chris Whitaker, the brother of the man initially accused of the 1999 slayings, to piece together the clues that will lead them to the murderer—or is it murderers?

Author Alex Finlay, whose breakout debut novel, Every Last Fear, enticed readers and critics alike, returns with the tense, edge-of-your seat thriller The Night Shift. Keller, who first appeared in Every Last Fear, shares narration duties with Ella and Chris, and Finlay does a masterful job of diving deep into each character’s thoughts and emotions in tight, fast-paced chapters. Ella’s and Jesse’s trauma is especially poignant, as is Chris’ inner turmoil over his brother’s possible involvement.

Keller works on the fringes of the local police investigation, interviewing witnesses past and present in her search for clues. The novel takes a straightforward path, and Finlay wisely does not overcomplicate an already compelling plot. Everyone from the local high school principal to the victims’ families holds potential clues, and The Night Shift’s trio of sleuths must discern what is true, who is holding back information and if (or when) the killer will strike again.

Fans of Grady Hendrix and Riley Sager will tear into this sophomore-slump-defying thriller.

Fans of Grady Hendrix and Riley Sager will tear into this sophomore-slump-defying thriller from the author of Every Last Fear.

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