Add These Crime Novels By Queer Authors To Your TBR List In 2019

Add These Crime Novels By Queer Authors To Your TBR List In 2019

Shamus award winning author and Mystery Tribune contributor Kristen Lepionka reviews the some of the most notable crime novels by queer authors this year. 

You’ll find lots of “books to get excited for this year”-type lists out there right now, but not one featuring new crime books by queer authors. Why? I don’t really know, but I suspect it’s somehow related to this: I recently Googled “queer crime writers” in the hopes of finding an established group that I could connect with, and I was pretty surprised to find that something I myself had written two years ago was among the first few search results. I mean, I’m flattered, Google, but I was kind of hoping for some new information here.

The fact is, not nearly enough has been written about the small but mighty group of us. I hope that’s changing–for example, see new publishers like Agora, a diversity-focused imprint of Polis Books. But the mystery genre has been a touch behind the times for a while now, change is slow, and I’m mad impatient. As for that group I was looking for–it didn’t exist yet, so I created a collective of queer crime writers of my own. In doing so, I found out about dozens of authors I didn’t know before–and a ton of new books for my TBR pile. Add some diversity to your own reading list for the year with these crime, suspense, and thriller novels by LGBTQ+ authors to get excited for in 2019.

January

Caleb Roehrig – Death Prefers Blondes (1/29)

This YA mystery promises kickboxing drag queens!

Teenage socialite Margo Manning leads a dangerous double life. By day, she dodges the paparazzi while soaking up California sunshine. By night, however, she dodges security cameras and armed guards, pulling off high-stakes cat burglaries with a team of flamboyant young men. In and out of disguise, she’s in all the headlines.

But then Margo’s personal life takes a sudden, dark turn, and a job to end all jobs lands her crew in deadly peril. Overnight, everything she’s ever counted on is put at risk. Backs against the wall, the resourceful thieves must draw on their special skills to survive.

February

Eliot Parker – A Knife’s Edge (2/9)

Six months after a drug cartel infiltrated Charleston, Ronan McCullough continues to fight the drug war that plagues the city. His investigations are halted when the body of a mutual acquaintance, Sarah Gilmore, is found in the trunk of a burning car.

In an investigation that takes him deep into the professional and personal life of the victim, McCullough discovers secrets lurking in her past, and a tangled web of personal and professional conflicts, suspicion, and betrayal.

March

J.S. Strange – Murder on the Rocks: a Welsh Cosy Murder Mystery (3/1)

This PI mystery introduces a gay protagonist, Jordan Jenner, who investigates the murder of a writer in Cardiff, Wales. If you’re a fan of classic whodunits you will love this! 

When PI Jordan Jenner returns to work following the death of his mother, his first case involves a murdered writer…

James Fairview has been killed. As a member of a prestigious writing group hosted by bestselling author Joseph Gordon in the heart of Cardiff, Jordan not only has to cope with solving the mystery, but also deal with press attention.

As Jordan investigates, he discovers his mother’s death may not have been so simple. And when another writer is murdered, Jordan realises the killer could strike again…

A murdered writer, a mysterious death, and a group with jealousy at its heart, this is Jenner’s toughest case yet.

Cheryl A. Head – Catch Me When I’m Falling (3/19)

Someone is murdering the homeless in Detroit’s Cass Corridor―by immolation. These horrific crimes wouldn’t require an investigation by Charlie Mack and her crack team investigators, except one of the burned bodies is her mother’s friend. There’s a lot wrong with this case: the police won’t admit a serial killer is on the loose, drug trafficking intersects with the deaths, and a rogue cop is involved.

The timing also couldn’t be worse―Charlie and Mandy are finally moving in together. This case becomes the most difficult of Charlie’s career when she transforms herself into a street person, and mixes with the corridor’s gangs, do-gooders, and the down-and-out to uncover evidence the police can’t continue to ignore.

April

Add These Crime Novels By Queer Authors To Your TBR List In 2019 greg herrenGreg Herren – Survivor’s Guilt and Other Stories (4/1)

A short story collection featuring tales of murder, crime, and the darkness that lives inside all of us–with a Southern Gothic flair–from New Orleans resident Greg Herren.

A Katrina survivor waits for rescue on his roof in the brutal heat, reflecting on the life choices that brought him to this moment. A young woman discovers there’s more to her perfect man than she thought. A gay journalist travels to Italy to interview his teen idol, only to discover a darkness in the Tuscan hills. A gay man cleans his home, reflecting on his sociopathic criminal mother. Chanse MacLeod returns to his hometown to help his younger brother, accused of murder. A daughter keeps her father’s legacy alive while hiding his darkest secrets.

Including five new stories written for this collection (along with the first-ever Chanse MacLeod short story), Greg Herren’s tales of murder, crime, and the darkness that lives inside all of us are evocative of the proud Southern Gothic tradition of writers and are now available, for the first time, in a single collection.

May

Add These Crime Novels By Queer Authors To Your TBR List In 2019 cj birchCJ Birch – An Intimate Deception (5/1)

Sherriff Elle Ashley must investigate Flynn County’s first murder in fifty years–and the victim just so happens to be her ex.

Flynn County Sheriff Elle Ashley has spent her adult life atoning for her wild youth, but when she finds her ex, Jessie murdered two weeks before the small town’s biggest social event, she comes face to face with her past and all her well-kept secrets.

Not only is this her first murder investigation, it’s the town’s first in over fifty years. Elle must find a killer before there are any more casualties and keep her troubled little brother off the suspect list, all under the watchful eyes of a Chicago reporter.

Investigative reporter Robin Oakes isn’t a small-town kind of girl, and she’s determined to get in and out of Turlough as fast as possible. One look at Sheriff Ashley has her rethinking her plans.

As pressure mounts to solve Jessie’s murder, Elle gets help from the most unlikely source–Robin, who appears to be more interested in her than getting the story.

Dea Poirier – Next Girl to Die (5/1)

Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to her sister’s death fifteen years earlier.

It’s been fifteen years since Claire Calderwood’s sister, Rachel, was brutally murdered in their small hometown in Maine. Claire has finally carved out a life for herself as a homicide detective in Detroit, but the past comes calling when the local police back home ask for her help with a murder eerily similar to Rachel’s.

Still haunted by Rachel’s cold case, Claire returns home, hoping to solve the crime and finally put her grief to rest. As she starts investigating, the last thing she needs is tenacious journalist Noah Washington asking questions she’s not ready to answer. But like her, Noah won’t give up until he finds the truth—and Claire reluctantly finds herself relying on him more and more when disturbing new details about Rachel’s death come to light.

When the killer strikes once again, Claire knows he’s not done. Now he’s set his sights on Claire, who will have to find the courage she needs to survive a deadly confrontation years in the making.

July

Add These Crime Novels By Queer Authors To Your TBR List In 2019 Meredith DoenchMeredith Doench – Deadeye (7/1)

Special Agent Luce Hansen’s Thanksgiving vacation with her new lover, forensic pathologist Harper Bennett, is cut short when she’s tasked to recapture Deadeye, a vicious serial predator who has escaped custody.

The timing couldn’t be worse, especially when Bennett seems to be struggling with the realities of Hansen’s work and questioning whether she’s willing to risk building a life with a woman who puts work first, even when the job puts her in the line of fire.

Hansen can’t put aside the chase even with her relationship on shaky ground when, on the anniversary of Deadeye’s first kill, two brothers are shot while jogging along a quiet country road. Before Deadeye can claim another victim, Hansen and her team must track a killer who has proven to be an expert at hiding in plain sight.

The stakes, both professional and personal, get even higher when Hansen is cut off from her team in rural Ohio and must fight for her very survive. As Bennett frantically searches for clues to Hansen’s disappearance, Deadeye’s hunt draws ever closer to home.

Layne Fargo – Temper (7/2)

Set in the Chicago theater scene, this psychological thriller is a razor-sharp page-turner about female ambition and what happens when fake violence draws real blood.

After years of struggling in the Chicago theater scene, ambitious actress Kira Rascher finally lands the role of a lifetime. The catch? Starring in Temper means working with Malcolm Mercer, a mercurial director who’s known for pushing his performers past their limits—on stage and off.

Kira’s convinced she can handle Malcolm, but the theater’s co-founder, Joanna Cuyler, is another story. Joanna sees Kira as a threat—to her own thwarted artistic ambitions, her twisted relationship with Malcolm, and the shocking secret she’s keeping about the upcoming production. But as opening night draws near, Kira and Joanna both start to realize that Malcolm’s dangerous extremes are nothing compared to what they’re capable of themselves.

An edgy, addictive, and fiendishly clever tale of ambition, deceit, and power, Temper is a timely, heart-in-your-throat psychological thriller that will leave you breathless.

Kristen Lepionka – The Stories You Tell (7/9)

Full disclosure: this book was written by ME, your guide down this here path of queer crime writers. But I do hope you’ll consider checking out the 3rd book in the Shamus Award-winning Roxane Weary private investigator series.

A late-night phone call is never good news, especially when you’re Roxane Weary. This one is from her brother Andrew whose evening was interrupted by a visit from Addison, a hip young DJ he knows from the hotel bar where he works. She was drunk, bloody, and hysterical, but she wouldn’t say what was wrong. After using his phone, she left as quickly as she appeared, and Andrew is worried. That’s when he calls Roxane.

But another late-night call occurs as well: Addison’s father calls the police after getting a panicked voicemail from his daughter. The only thing he could understand is the address she gave in the message—Andrew’s. Before long, the police are asking Andrew all about why there’s blood in his apartment and what he did to Addison.

Meanwhile, another cop is found dead on the opposite side of town, leading to a swirl of questions surrounding a dance club whose staff—which includes Addison—has suddenly gone AWOL.

Ellison Cooper – Buried (7/16)

Senior Special Agent Sayer Altair studies the minds of psychopaths. But even she didn’t expect to uncover a killer within the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Rooting him out and exposing internal corruption got her a bullet wound and six months of desk duty. Now, she’s finally back in the field, called in when an off-duty FBI agent and his cadaver dog fall into a sinkhole filled with human bones.

Found deep in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the skeletal remains date back almost two decades, the same time a beloved local teen disappeared. The cold case quickly heats up when Sayer’s team finds two fresh corpses among the bones.

When a gruesome clue ties these new bodies to a woman recently kidnapped along with her young daughter, Sayer has to uncover the connection between the old bones and the new bodies before the mother and child become the next victims.

But the killer is one step ahead, attacking her team and sabotaging their efforts. With Sayer’s investigation compromised and unsure of who to trust, she receives unwanted help from Subject 037, one of the anonymous psychopaths she is currently studying. She has the chilling realization that he’s someone powerful in Washington D.C.—and he is not about to let a mundane serial killer jeopardize his own ominous agenda for Sayer.

Claire O’Dell – The Hound Of Justice (7/30)

Dr. Janet Watson and covert agent Sara Holmes, introduced in the acclaimed A Study in Hour, continue their dangerous investigation into the new American Civil War with the help of fresh allies, advanced technology, and deduction in this reimagining of Sherlock Holmes.

It’s been two months since Dr. Janet Watson accepted an offer from Georgetown University Hospital. The training for her new high-tech arm is taking longer than expected, however, leaving her in limbo. Meanwhile, her brilliant friend and compatriot, Sara Holmes, has been placed on leave–punishment for going rogue during their previous adventure. Neither is taking their situation very well.

Then an extremist faction called the Brotherhood of Redemption launches an assassination attempt on the president. The attempt fails but causes mass destruction–fifty dead and hundreds more injured, and Holmes takes on the task of investigating the Brotherhood.

Holmes is making progress when she abruptly disappears. Watson receives a mysterious message from Holmes’s cousin Micha and learns that her friend has quit the service and is operating in the shadows, investigating clues that link the Brotherhood to Adler Industries.

She needs a surgeon, Micha tells Watson. She needs you.

Reunited once more, Dr. Watson, Holmes, and Micha embark on a mission through the deep South to clear Holmes’s name, thwart the Brotherhood’s next move, and most important, bring their nemesis to justice for the atrocities she’s committed in the New Civil War.

August

RH Herron – Stolen Things (8/20)

A sensational crime, a missing teen, and a mother and daughter with no one to trust but themselves come together in the debut thriller by R. H. Herron.

Laurie Ahmadi has worked as a 911 police dispatcher in her quiet Northern California town for nearly two decades. She considers the department her family; her husband, Omid, is its first Arab American chief, and their teenaged daughter, Jojo, has grown up with the force. So when Laurie catches a 911 call and, to her horror, it’s Jojo, the whole department springs into action.

Jojo, drugged, disoriented, and in pain, doesn’t remember how she ended up at the home of Kevin Leeds, a pro football player famous for his on-the-field activism and his work with the CapB—“Citizens Against Police Brutality”—movement. She doesn’t know what happened to Kevin’s friend and trainer, whose beaten corpse is also discovered in the house. And she has no idea where her best friend Harper, who was with her earlier in the evening, could be.

But when Jojo begins to dive into Harper’s social media to look for clues to her whereabouts, Jojo uncovers a shocking secret that turns everything she knew about Harper—and the police department—on its head. With everything they thought they could rely on in question, Laurie and Jojo begin to realize that they can’t trust anyone to find Harper except themselves and time is running out.

September

Greg Herren – Royal Street Reveillon (9/1) 

New Orleans private investigator Scotty Bradley finds himself too busy trying to track down who is killing the stars of a reality show to celebrate the Christmas season properly.

Dharma Kelleher – A Broken Woman (9/24)

After a transgender biker is falsely accused of murder and brutally assaulted in jail, members of her biker club close ranks around her, forcing bounty hunter Jinx Ballou to track down the real killer before her fugitive will surrender.

December

Wendy Heard – The Kill Club (12/17)

In order to save her brother from an abusive foster home, Jazz considers joining an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to murder the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings.

Stefani Deoul – Say Her Name (12/TBD)

In the third book in the Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure series, a slippery slope leads Sid and her posse of friends to a turn of the century mass grave and a genetic deep dive into a single strand of DNA that stretches across time, states, and even continents.

Lastly, a bonus January 2020 title to kick off next year’s reading too

Tanen Jones – The Better Liar 

A woman convinces a down-on-her-luck actress to impersonate her estranged sister in order to receive an inheritance payout–but they’re both keeping secrets from each other.

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