Tarnished Gold by Ann Aptaker is set in 1950, New York. Cantor Gold, art smuggler and dapper dyke-about-town is caught between trying to solve a murder and find a missing piece of art that she just smuggled into town.

The law is looking for any reason to send her to jail and pinning a murder on her seems like a great way to do it. But they aren’t the only ones who are trying to get to Gold.

To make her life even more complicated, she cannot resist a beautiful woman and it is illegal to have lesbian sex. In a story filled with beautiful women who find it irresistible to tease her, Gold needs to figure out who she can and cannot trust.

In this crime drama Gold must figure out who is lying about what and why before she ends up in jail or dead.

The Characters

Cantor Gold is the main character but Aptaker delivers a cast of memorable side characters including everyone from the wealthy and beautiful to the downright scary and violent.

Aptaker does a beautiful job of creating memorable characters you want to see again.

The Writing Style

This book won’t be for everyone. It takes concentration to read because it is so full. Every line is filled with information and every character will make you think.

If you enjoy those old private investigator films that start off with a beautiful woman bringing trouble to a PI’s life then this is the read for you.

Personally, I loved it. This is the kind of book you want to read when you have time to appreciate it.

The Pros

I loved it. Aptaker takes us right into the underworld with Cantor Gold. The women are sexy, the alcohol is flowing and in the world is full of Gold. That is, Cantor Gold.

The Cons

It is not a light read. This is more of a warning than a con.

The Conclusion

Aptaker has created an entirely unique set of characters including Cantor Gold, an art smuggler. You can tell that she loves art by the way she describes it. Her storytelling is vivid and there were times when I found myself telling Gold to walk away and leave things alone, for fear that she would end up swimming with the fishes.

This is the second book in the series, but can comfortably be read without reading the first novel.

Excerpt from Tarnished Gold by Ann Aptaker

On a freighter sailing into New York Harbor, 1950

The first killer to come at me tonight is the wind. The cold October wind smacks me in the face, claws at my flesh right through my raincoat, and tries to toss me overboard as I swing myself over the ship’s rail and down the rope ladder. The ladder’s wild in the wind, shimmying like a hopped-up stripper, slamming me against the hull of the freighter, a French bucket hauling a cargo of sweet perfumes and smelly cheeses. I’m not the type of dame who wears perfume, though I’m happy to wallow in the scented skin of the ladies in my life. Too bad the freighter’s only carrying the dollar-ninety-eight a bottle variety, the kind whose aroma lingers in a headache; not worth pilfering any bottles to give to the ladies.

If I want to live long enough to enjoy a classier variety of perfumed nights, I’d better get a a better handle on this rope ladder. The wind wants to smash me to pieces as I climb down the bone-twisting fifty-foot descent to Red Drogan’s tugboat. And now there’s a second killer snapping at my ankles: spray from the churning river soaks the rope, makes it slippery. I might as well be trying to get a foothold on slithering eels. Even my crepe-soled shoes can’t always hold the rungs. My heart’s lurching up my throat and m stomach nearly plummets out my ass as I’m thrown on a wild slide down the rope ladder, a death rise that burns my palms…

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Cantor Gold Crime Series

Criminal Gold

Tarnished Gold

Genuine Gold

Flesh and Gold

Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 978-1626394261
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books


Note: I received a free review copy of Tarnished Gold by Ann Aptaker for review. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.

About the author

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from Amazon.com to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born