Book Cover of Blackmail, My LoveWhen a gay man goes missing, his Sapphic sister travels to San Francisco to investigate…

In 1951, Lucy thinks Ricky is trying to murder her. Another fictional female, Josie O’Conner, thinks someone is trying to murder her brother.

While Lucy’s fears are unfounded, Josie’s are compounded by the knowledge of her brother’s homosexuality. Sure, he lives in San Francisco, but in that time and in that place, it’s outré to be gay.

When private investigator Jimmy O’Conner doesn’t give his sister a buzz on her birthday, Josie instantly becomes suspicious of something pernicious. Jimmy got a raw deal when he was forced off the force, and now Josie dreads another touch of evil: one that’s in bed with the big sleep.

Intent on locating her brother, Josie relocates to the Bay Area and finds herself in a lonely place. But then Josie transforms into Joe, and not your average one. As a haberdashing butch Fatale, Joe can conceal and conceal her identity―and keep a Marlowe profile.

During her investigation, Joe meets goons, loons, and bent spoons. She visits bars patronized by the public’s idea of perverts―bars from which cops have been barred. But when the California Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have the right to assemble, the decision was hardly an interruption of police corruption.


Not every badge belongs to a bad cop, though. And not every deviate is a degenerate. In fact, Joe meets plenty of folks, like the blackmail victims who’d sought Jimmy’s sleuthing services, who are neither unscrupulous nor inscrutable. Then there’s Lucille: a dame with sass, class, and ass who works for―and against―the brass in this morass.
Outfitted with an array of allies, Joe makes it queer that the blackmailers have messed with the wrong man. So what if she runs into dead ends, loose ends, or her wit’s end? For this tenderfoot flatfoot, it’s all in a gay’s work.
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.
Fact-based and 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.
Oh, and be sure to homophile Blackmail, My Love under Confidential. Actually, make that Consequential. That’s what it hard boils down to.

Get it on Apple Books