Lambda Award 2015 for Best Gay Mystery!
Foreword Reviews' 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Winner
Josie O'Conner travels to San Francisco in 1951 to locate her gay brother, a private eye investigating a blackmail ring targeting lesbians and gay men. Jimmy's friends claim that just before he disappeared he became a rat, informing the cops on the bar community. Josie adopts Jimmy's trousers and wingtips, to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for too many queer corpses. Along the way she rubs shoulders with a sultry chanteuse running a dyke tavern called Pandora's Box, gets intimate with a red-headed madam operating a brothel from the Police Personnel Department, and conspires with the star of Finocchio's, a dive so disreputable it's off limits to servicemen -- so every man in uniform pays a visit.
Blackmail, My Love is an illustrated murder mystery deeply steeped in San Francisco's queer history, as established academic and first-time novelist Katie Gilmartin's diverse set of characters negotiate the risks of same-sex desire in a dangerous era. Set in such legendary locations as the Black Cat Cafe, the Fillmore, the Beat movement's North Beach, and the Tenderloin, Blackmail, My Love is a singular, stunning introduction to a new author and to gay noir.
|Publisher:||Start Publishing, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Katie Gilmartin received a Ph.D. in cultural studies from Yale, with an emphasis in queer history. After teaching the history of sexuality and queer studies for a decade at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the University of California, Berkeley, and The New College, she became a printmaker. Her prior publications are academic essays based on interviews she conducted with lesbians about their lives in the 1940s and 1950s. This is her first work of fiction. Gilmartin lives in San Francisco.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rather good! I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and addictiveness of this novel. As a native of San Francisco I was very interested in all the historical details, and incorporation of places that are still known today. These details when added to Gilmartins masterful storytelling ability - tough, first person narration and insight into the LGBT community of the fifties meant that I read this book all in one go.
Blackmail, My Love is an exciting take on a murder mystery. It incorporates San Francisco’s actual history and LGBT issues which make it an interesting read even while the story itself is fiction. It is a neat, well written compilation of various genres all in one that’d I’d highly recommend.
While I loved the setting and nods to historical places, figures, and events, I found myself unable to love the main character Joe. I really wanted to, but when her backstory wasn't even explained until after the third chapter I was lost for what her motivations were. Her expression of emotions were so subtle that I felt they were reaching for hidden depths that just didn't exist. The multiple plots did a fair amount of twisting but the primary "blackmail" plot is easily guessed halfway through. If the intention is to be more noir than mystery then I suppose that is a good thing. I did miss the classic noir staple of the femme fatale, though there was a femme, there was nothing fatale about her. She served more as a light love interest, a quick pg rated love scene that left me uninterested, and more often a therapist. Not to mention taking a knock at stone butch women by flat out insulting them (which when recounted to others, consensus was that the line in that scene comes off as more "I like to rape women" than "I convince stone butches to let me have sex with them"). What did I really like? The character of Pearl, who was fun and interesting, deep and thoughtful, and ruthless when necessary. She carried the show, even assisting with what I assume is the authors desire to discuss non binary gendered thinking, which for the time period seems unlikely of most characters. Pearl managed to pull even that off. I liked several of the blackmailed characters, who were intense and their pain reached off the page, their stories struck nerves that made my heart ache. I liked the storyline of Joes brother, though it was simple and not difficult to figure out, it was realistic, well written, thoughtful and at times raw. It took time to get to the real meat of this plot line, but it was worth it. The brother sister connection and details of their relationship were told so vividly I felt as if I was in the forest there with them. With so much research accomplished by the author from the extensive acknowledgements and bibliography, I am left confused how a book that seeks to encapsulate gay and lesbian life from 1950's San Francisco can consciously make so many historically inaccurate choices. Was it the authors wish to see the time through rose colored glasses? Was she inserting herself as the character of Joe, who switches between butch and femme with no qualms about how that would actually be received in the lesbian community of Joe's time? This is what I was left with when the book was over, but reading about the historical references along with the offered photos help calm my internal storm. In the end I give it a solid 3 stars.
BLACKMAIL, MY LOVE is a mystery set in 1950’s San Francisco, illustrated beautifully by the author. Josie O’Conner goes searching for her brother in the Tenderloin, but she finds out his friends believe he became a rat for the gay-bashing cops he despised. Josie’s brother, Jimmy, had become a private investigator once he was no longer a cop. He was investigating a blackmail ring targeting closeted lesbians and gay men, like himself. Josie dons her brother’s clothes and goes out searching for the truth. Josie wants to find the truth behind her brother’s disappearance, the identity of the blackmailer, and to restore her brother’s good reputation. BLACKMAIL, MY LOVE is richly imbued with the sights, sounds, and feelings of queer culture of the 1950’s in San Francisco. The search takes Josie through some of the more notorious locations in San Francisco’s queer history and she meets some wonderfully colorful characters. I absolutely adored the characters and the locale had a life of its’ own. BLACKMAIL, MY LOVE is a beautifully detailed and well-written mystery.
However the new genre combo mystery and gay does not appeal to many of those who prefer a classic format if a character is gay may add "color" but to base everything in the book on sexual orientation is poor writing nook seems in these last weeks to be "pushing" adult smut rather than just a summer read as a fast food this would have been a case of food contamination by unwashed hands or a hair on the pickle