Book Review: Blackmail, My Love by: Katie Gilmartin


Publisher: Cleis Press

Publication Date: November 18, 2014

Origins:  From Publisher for Review

Synopsis: Josie O'Conner travels to San Francisco in 1951 to locate her gay brother, a private dick 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, battling to clear his name, halt the blackmailers, and exact justice for the 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. Established academic and first-time novelist Katie Gilmartin's diverse set of characters negotiate the risks of same-sex desire in a tough time for queers. Humor leavens the grave subject matter. Set in such legendary locations as the Black Cat Cafe, the Fillmore, the Beat movement's North Beach, and the sexually complex Tenderloin, Blackmail, My Love is a singular, visually stunning neo-noir experience.

Review: 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.

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