By Rosalie Knecht
My Rating: 3 Stars
Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Publication Date: June 21st, 2022
Genre: LGBTQ Mystery
Format Read: Ebook
Goodreads Summary: It’s spring 1971 and Vera Kelly and her girlfriend, Max, leave their cozy Brooklyn apartment for an emergency visit to Max’s estranged family in Los Angeles. Max’s parents are divorcing—her father is already engaged to a much younger woman and under the sway of an occultist charlatan; her mother has left their estate in a hurry with no indication of return. Max, who hasn’t seen her family since they threw her out at the age of twenty-one, prepares for the trip with equal parts dread and anger.
Upon arriving, Vera is shocked by the size and extravagance of the Comstock estate—the sprawling, manicured landscape; expansive and ornate buildings; and garages full of luxury cars reveal a privileged upbringing that, up until this point, Max had only hinted at—while Max attempts to navigate her father, who is hostile and controlling, and the occultist, St. James, who is charming but appears to be siphoning family money. Tensions boil over at dinner when Max threatens to alert her mother—and her mother’s lawyers—to St. James and her father’s plans using marital assets. The next morning, when Vera wakes up, Max is gone.
In Vera Kelly Lost and Found, Rosalie Knecht gives Vera her highest-stake case yet, as Vera quickly puts her private detective skills to good use and tracks a trail of breadcrumbs across southern California to find her missing girlfriend. She travels first to a film set in Santa Ynez and, ultimately, to a most unlikely destination where Vera has to decide how much she is willing to commit to save the woman she loves.
Trigger Warnings: Homophobia, mental institutions
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I finally got around to reading Vera Kelly: Lost and Found, the story of Vera who goes on a hunt for her girlfriend Max after she mysteriously disappears from her family home. The two were on a visit to Max’s estranged (rich, weird) family when Vera wakes up and Max is nowhere to be found.
As a full disclaimer, I’d never read any previous Vera Kelly books before, and in fact did not even realize this was a series until I had already gotten the eARC of the book. Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more had I actually had the background necessary. That being said, I did feel like this worked as a standalone novel in that I was never confused by what was going on and the plot seemed strictly isolated. There was a beginning, middle, and end, and I was introduced to all of the characters as if I’d never met them before. Which is good, because I hadn’t.
I knew that this book was historical fiction when I got it, but I don’t think I was quite prepared for the level of historical fiction with respect to queerness that it was. Max was disowned by her family for being gay, and both Vera and Max had to downplay their own identities in order to survive. The entire plot was all about Vera trying to save Max from Max’s family’s homophobia. That was all just a little too much for me. I wanted them to be cute together, not to be closeted apart.
The positive aspects of this book were that Vera was a compelling protagonist who had interesting thoughts. I’m not normally a big cop novels person, preferring instead the random individual who gets drawn into solving the murder due to their own close involvement. This book was a mix of the two, seeing as how Vera is ex-CIA and the mystery she was solving was the disappearance of her own girlfriend. I felt that I could understand Vera, and I enjoyed following along as she solved the mystery.