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Blackmail, My Love
A Murder Mystery
Katie Gilmartin
ISBN: 9781627780643
Book (Paperback)
Cleis Press
6 x 9
232 pages
November 18, 2014

Lambda Award 2015 for Best Gay Mystery!

Foreword Reviews' 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Winner


"Blackmail, My Love is a cross-genre softcover: murder mystery, pulp fiction, historical fiction, romance, picture book. In her protagonist, author and illustrator Katie Gilmartin has cut a fearless, peerless figure who is realistic but not fatalistic, sharp as a fedora, and grittier than the underworld. Joe’s delight in transposing genders invites readers into the gay areas shadowing and overshadowing San Francisco’s black-and-white heat. The nuanced nonchalance of the narration is juxtaposed with the desperation and determination experienced by our hero, whose straits will Mildred Pierce your soul. Fast-paced, this story puts the “out” in “out of the past,” a past that, according to the author, “inhabits the future.” If you like your gumshoes with gumption, this novel is right up your alley. Just keep an eye out for suspicious characters who may be lurking?and smirking?in the shadows." –Curve Magazine

"I loved this book because of its writing and the cinematic vividness with which Gilmartin creates a believable, authentic historical setting. Beyond that, I think that every LGBTQ person under 40 ought to read Blackmail, My Love, because this well-crafted novel is also a healthy, if painful, history lesson." –Prism Book Alliance

“This is the Katie Gilmartin’s first work of fiction, and she clearly drew on her academic work: interviews she conducted with lesbians about their lives in the 1940s and 1950s. That work paid off. Her future in fiction is bright.” —New York Journal of Books

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.

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.
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