A tense character-driven story ... Rosen sculpts fully realized characters ... Each character’s personal struggles are expertly shown. Like in most families, there are squabbles, pettiness and annoyances punctuating every day, but there also is pure, unconditional love and acceptance that elevate Lavender House. Rosen leaves the door open for what would be a most welcomed sequel.
... a queer locked-room mystery that is as enticing as it is historically resonant ... a crisply and cleverly constructed novel: the noir-like mystery at its heart is strong, but it is made stronger --- rather than weighed down --- by the stylish, punchy and historically accurate choices of its author. As Rosen notes in his back matter, history books and our own modern biases often encourage us to believe that queer people were invented with Stonewall and that everyone was straight or yearning before then. They have existed --- and loved, supported and, yes, married each other --- in even the most perilous times ... But Rosen doesn’t dwell on the darkest parts of queer history (though he doesn’t shy away from them, either), choosing instead to show readers what freedom really means to those for whom even existence is a crime. The striking dissonance between the freedoms of his characters and the dark, old-money murder at the heart of the novel makes every chapter immersive, spellbinding and utterly riveting ... An old-world mystery written for a new-world audience, Lavender House is everything readers love about noir mysteries elevated by everything missing from them: marginalized characters, modernized tropes and clear-eyed reckonings with painful histories. Rosen is an absolute gem of an author, and I cannot wait to see what he does next.
Twisty ... 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 ... Deep, dark ... A thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be free to love who you love.
Insightful ... Andy gets to know every character, with all their petty squabbles and the festering resentments. Underpinning the murder mystery is commentary on queerness, freedom and what it means to be family, which flavors every interaction ... Readers who love queer history, complicated family dynamics, flawed characters and a good murder mystery will be eager for more.
Although the characters tend to be types and the denouement is a bit too pat, Rosen’s mystery is intriguing and a satisfying read. What makes the book exceptional, though, is its gritty treatment of queer life in the early ‘50s, which Rosen examines with commendable insight and compassion. A worthy effort.
Superb ... Rosen’s deftly clued, noir-tinged plot successfully walks the line between hope and heartbreak, all while thoughtfully exploring the role of family in our lives. This fresh take on the classic private investigator begs to be brought to the big screen.
[An] appealing character-driven mystery ... This book’s real pleasure lies in the richly realized portrayal of its cast and their personal struggles. Rosen puts a welcome gay spin on the traditional country house whodunit.