I’ve recently moved to San Francisco and wanted to find out a little more about the city’s history. I don’t do well with textbooks (even sleeping with them under my pillow doesn’t work) so I absorb facts from fiction using some form of osmosis. I’m always on the look out for a piece of fiction that can give me a interesting perspective on the place I’m living in.
Blackmail, My Love did just that. It’s a decent LGBT murder mystery but it’s the world-weaving (yes, that’s a thing), which I like. The book is rife with the geographical and historical touchstones that I love. The author does a really good job of bringing the 1950’s LGBT community’s plight alive. SF back then was definitely not liberal and a new law meant (in a round about way) that police raids were stepped up and a lot of the LGBT community were beaten, or in the case of the protagonists brother… disappeared. It really shocked me. I’ve always thought of SF as being a liberal city, it never occurred to me that those rights had to be fought for. I knew it in the back of my head of course but there’s a difference between knowing something and seeing it happen to a character you can identify with.
I googled the author and found an interview where she says that she interviewed a lot of people who lived through those times, so I guess it’s as legit as it can be. I also liked the drawings throughout (not too many, I don’t like picture books) and it turned out that they’re prints that she’s made. That sealed the deal. I’m kind of obsessed with her.
In short. Plot decent. World-weaving (again, real thing) great. Author’s credentials + print skills = legendary. I don’t think I’ll ever see the streets of SF in the same way again.