The Bell in the Fog, a dazzling historical mystery by Lev AC Rosen, asks―once you have finally found a family, how far would you go to prove yourself to them?
San Francisco, 1952. Detective Evander “Andy” Mills has started a new life for himself as a private detective―but his business hasn’t exactly taken off. It turns out that word spreads fast when you have a bad reputation, and no one in the queer community trusts him enough to ask an ex-cop for help.
When James, an old flame from the war who had mysteriously disappeared, arrives in his offices above the Ruby, Andy wants to kick him out. But the job seems to be a simple case of blackmail, and Andy’s debts are piling up. He agrees to investigate, despite everything it stirs up.
The case will take him back to the shadowy, closeted world of the Navy, and then out into the gay bars of the city, where the past rises up to meet him, like the swell of the ocean under a warship. Missing people, violent strangers, and scandalous photos that could destroy lives are a whirlpool around him, and Andy better make sense of it all before someone pulls him under for good.
“The Bell in the Fog” by Lev AC Rosen, the second book set around Detective Andy Mills, is a beautifully immersive noir mystery, one of the best I’ve read. Just like the first, Lev AC Rosen sets the wonderful noir atmosphere immediately, centering you quickly in the time period of San Francisco 1952 and also brings into the focus the struggles that Andy Mills is having now that the queer community knows he’s an ex-cop.
The author also brings into play Andy’s past, like a ghost haunting him. The connections and clues, the hints that are given along the way, the red herrings, are dazzling, a mystery that is riveting and immersive. The relationships and characters are complex and compelling especially as Andy’s confronts his past and what that will mean to his future.
This novel is all about secrets just like the previous but in this one, Andy is no longer hiding, slowly learning to embrace his identity and what that means. This story ends up being deeply personal but impactful. The ending packs a punch and ends with found family.
If you love historical mysteries, with gay characters struggling with their past, this novel is perfect for you. If you haven’t read the first book, I recommend it but it is not required. The beginning introduces you to what you need to know to enjoy the novel. The characters, especially Andy, are compelling. I love the exploration of queer identity that these mysteries revolve around and this is the perfect immersive noir mystery for me.
Rating: 5 out of 5 secrets