Member Reviews

Another interesting mystery set in 1950s San Francisco. As always I love all of the characters and always rooting for them to have a happy ending. The mystery in this one wasn’t as compelling as book 2, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. And the subplot with the reporter was excellent at depicting the constant fear that LGBT+ people lived in during this time period (and still do, in many parts of the world).

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I love Rosen’s Evander Mills series. Lavender House was good. I liked The Bell in the Fog even better. Rough Pages takes the best elements of each and runs with it.

In our third book, Andy is asked to look into the disappearance of a queer bookstore owner whose mailing list could ruin a lot of lives if it falls into the wrong hands. Unfortunately, a reporter is interested in the case as well. Andy has to find the missing man, shake the reporter, and make sure nobody is outed in McCarthy-era San Francisco.

I love seeing the characters grow and Andy come out of his shell. Gene gets more time on page, and Pat makes a reappearance. The censorship plot line, timely as ever, is handled well without being bludgeoning the reader. It certainly makes me realize how incriminating my shelves (and Kindle) are.

Overall, I’m pleased with how the series is shaping up and looking forward to each new release.

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CW: homophobia, racism

*slight spoilers for earlier books in the series*

I loved this book! My favourite in the series thus far.

In this installment we have Andy tracking down a missing bookseller, so may have gotten into trouble for selling and sending obscene materials through the mail. I don't know if this is super accurate with the post office (I assume it is?), but now, you can send whatever you want in the mail, as long as it's in an envelope; if the post office doesn't know what it is, it's none of their business.

I really loved how Andy continued to evolve as an out (or at least not actively hiding), queer man, as well as how his relationship with Gene is developing. I really appreciated Gene putting Andy in his place about his hero complex; not everyone needs to be saved by Andy Mills, despite him thinking they do.

I was also so happy to have the family from Lavender House back in this book. They felt like such an important catalyst to Andy's introduction to the queer community (in book one) and I had hoped that they would be in book two more than they were. It was great to catch up with them again and see how Andy can fit into their little family.

But, but, what I really loved about this book, is that it's a book about books. There are so many times that they are discussing the importance of books, especially queer books, and what they were saying is still SO relevant today (70+ years later). How it's important to see yourself in books, how you can learn about yourself from reading books, how books make you more empathetic towards others whose background you don't share, etc. This quote in particular is just so, SO good:

Pat laughs. “No, no, Andy. Books are dangerous.” I turn to him, surprised. “What?” “It’s just about who they’re dangerous to she was wrong about. She meant her, Howard maybe. If people are afraid of you reading a thing—a reporter, the mob, the government—that means they’re afraid of reading it too. Afraid of knowing what’s in the book, whether it be some personal secret, or just some story of love that could make someone feel less alone. Books are just as dangerous to the people who don’t want us to read them as they are to us. Because they make us less alone. They make us see ourselves. They make us realize what we deserve. And sometimes they make people who aren’t like us realize it, too. That’s why they’re dangerous. And that’s why we all have to live dangerously—so we keep reading them.”

I do have to say that the homophobia was especially difficult to read in this, even though I'm sure it's historically accurate. It's also a big part of the plot, so it kind of has to be there, but it was still super uncomfortable to read. Even though I really disliked reading it, I did really appreciate how Rosen wrote it, which probably sounds weird! He didn't write any slurs (Andy does refer to himself as an f-word, once) and one side character referred to an unnamed queer person as a fairy, but I think that if the language had been historically accurate, it would have likely been a lot worse. The same goes for the racism in the book; yes, folks in the early 50s were super racist, but no slurs were used.

I absolutely devoured this book, I actually read it almost in one sitting, which I haven't done for quite some time. Even though this one isn't out until October, I'm already hoping for a fourth book!

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I was hooked from the cover and so glad I got to read this. It uses the San Francisco element perfectly and enjoyed the overall feel to it. The characters were what I wanted and thought they felt like real people. Lev AC Rosen has a great writing style and can’t wait for more.

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Surprising absolutely no one, this was such a fantastic book! This series, and Lev’s books in general, just so perfectly hit a blend of queer history and queer politics that I just cannot put the books down. And seeing a continuation of Andy’s story is just, I love the development and the relationships and the mysteries are always so good! This series just continues to improve and I cannot wait to see what’s next for Andy and his family and friends!

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Andy and his crew make their return in this third entry into this post-war San Francisco noir series. After a long absence, Andy returns to his friends at the Lavender House. A new baby has arrived, but her place at the House is tenuous because of strict adoption protocols that would never place a child with an known homosexual, let alone a house full of them. When Pat, the butler, confesses to Andy that the whole family may be in danger due to a book club mailing list going missing, Andy takes the case pro bono to protect not only his friends, but an entire community. This book is a love letter to stories and a beautiful reminder of how important books are. For many people across generations, books were the often the first, and sometimes only, place people saw their queer identities reflected. Knowing you are not alone, knowing you are not bad or wrong, is an incalculably valuable experience that several characters mention throughout the book. The themes in this book could not be more timely. Censorship, racism, and reactionary politics are, unfortunately, evergreen topics. Lev AC Rosen better do his finger stretches because I need him to type as many of these books as quickly as possible.

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Thank you to NetGalley and Forge for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions found within are my own.

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Above all, this is a book about books, a book about stories. About the way telling a story can either save or ruin lives, and the empathy necessary to understand and care about which it will be.

Rosen's always been a good writer, but he's in particularly fine form here in Rough Pages. Multiple lovely lines and snippets of haunting imagery jump off the page at me. Though I particularly love "the cigarette smoke still writes eulogies in the air." Peak noir.

His cast of characters, too, is better than ever. I loved Pat in Lavender House and was glad to see him again. The new ensemble is human and moving, often heartbreaking. But in particular, I want to highlight Gene and the way Rosen deepens his relationship with Andy. To be honest, I was dubious about them in The Bell in the Fog. The relationship felt too conventional and blah, with Gene playing the part of "the boy back home" more than anything else. And then, this book goes and deconstructs that, and I couldn't be happier. I do wish we'd get to see Gene get more involved in the mysteries. He's a medic, it wouldn't be a stretch. But I do like what Rosen is doing with him here.

Also of note is Rose, the reporter introduced in this book, with her hard-nosed callous idealism making her a great foil and antagonist for Andy, where in another book she might have been the hero. I can't say I like her, but I love the energy she brings to the story.

Because this is also a story about fear. And I love Rosen for taking his characters' fears seriously instead of spackling them over. There's a lot at stake if the wrong stories - the wrong truths - see the light of day, and no one embodies that fear better than a reporter with poor boundaries.

The mystery itself was deceptively straightforward. I did not call the culprit at all - and in fact totally fell for an eleventh hour misdirect - but when you know everything, it falls into place. Of course that's what happened. It was the only thing that could have happened, but god, that was a painful one.

To sum it up, this series just keeps getting better and better. I gave Lavender House three stars. The Bell in the Fog got four. And now I'm proud to give this one five.

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Another excellent installment in the Evander Mills series.
I absolutely adore the characters in this series! Each book makes me love Andy and his ever growing family even more.
As is usual with these books, the twists are exciting but not wholly unexpected. Somehow Rosen manages to keep these somewhat low stress and joyful while sending the cast through the ringer of persistent homophobia. The case in this book was quite enjoyable - Who doesn’t love a bookshop/publishing/mobster mystery?!
I cannot wait to see what will happen next in this series

Thanks to Forge/Tor and NetGalley for the ARC!
4.25/5

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I was so excited to see the eARC for this on NetGalley on Monday. Rough Pages was an excellent mystery with solid twists that don't come out of no where but that I didn't find too predictable. I really enjoy this series, the historical details, the honest way the characters come across, and the unflinching messiness of queer life, particularly post WWII America. It deals bluntly, graphically with homophobia just like the other two books in the series, but it also shows queer joy and queer community in the face of violent homophobia.

It's wonderful to watch Andy come into his own as a gay man, to see his support network, and the networks the other characters build for one another. It's also refreshing to read a mystery that isn't copaganda, and in fact show the police to be a corrupt and messy organization of men.

I really look forward to seeing where this series goes.

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