“Nights in Berlin” by Janice Law— Love in Weimar Berlin

Law, Janice. “Nights in Berlin”, (The Francis Bacon Mysteries), Mysterious Press, 2016.

Love in Weimar Berlin

Amos Lassen

When Francis Bacon’s father sends him to Berlin because of his flirting with other boys at his school, he is very happy. Going to school in the country had been a bore for him and in Berlin there are many opportunities to enjoy. Francis begins enjoying them all. He loves the cabarets that are outrageous and he fits right into his uncle Lasting’s bed. After the First World War, Berlin enjoyed a good deal of growth and openness even as Hitler began his rise to power.

As the atmosphere becomes more and more tense, Francis’s uncle welcomes all kinds of men to share his bed. Some of these men are there just for sexual pleasure while others have been invited to help fight the rising tide of Bolshevism. Then when the Nazis send Lastings running for his life, Francis remains in Berlin alone with only his sense of hedonism to distract him from a city that becomes more dangerous every night.

We meet Francis Bacon when he is aiding his uncle in a political shooting, after which he is forced into hiding as a hatcheck “girl” in a Berlin drag bar under the auspices of the British embassy.

There’s intrigue, peril, politics, history, humor and romance in the story. Having been repressed by his father, Francis finds Weimar-era Berlin to be a wonderland of fun. There is a snag, however, and that is that his uncle is not what he seems, and seems and appears to be involved in either spying or some criminal intrigue with the right-wing. Francis has a series of dangerous encounters as he works in a gay nightclub while dodging his uncle’s creditors and enemies. He finds help from unexpected friends.

Francis uses his natural resources to survive in a place that is filled with danger, especially for gay men. Even though Bacon is a flamboyantly and sexually active, there is no explicit sex.

Based on British artist Francis Bacon, author Janice Law—like many current authors—has recreated a real person into a fictional amateur sleuth with her Francis Bacon Mysteries. “Nights In Berlin” is the fourth in the series, yet is a prequel to the others as it deals with the 17-year-old Bacon’s adventures in gay Berlin.

This is writer Janice Law’s fourth book in the Francis Bacon series and while it is not necessary to have read the others, it might help to understand Bacon. We do know that while still a teen, he was thrown out of his home when he was found admiring himself while wearing his mother’s underwear. Bacon said that his father sent him to a friend who was known for his “manliness” with the idea that this friend would make a man out of him. This friend was his Bacon’s so-called “uncle” who bedded him in Berlin.


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