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9 of the Best LGBTQ+ Mystery Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down

Queer voices in mystery fiction that stand out and stand proud.

three lgbtq mystery books covers

The world we live in has not always made room for queer writers, characters, and their stories in a genre of noir fiction, classic whodunits, amateur sleuths, and more.

But, in a genre of crime-solvers, there is no one as well-versed in the clandestine world of intrigue, dangerous secrets, and gritty protagonists as the queer community, whose very existence was considered a crime for far too long.

Mysteries are full of plots in the shadows, but we’re bringing these LGBTQ+ mystery books into the light. Here are nine queer mystery books you won't want to miss.

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester

By Maya MacGregor

The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Slyvester is the story of Sam Sylvester, an autistic nonbinary teen obsessed with mysterious cases of kids who have died before turning nineteen. Or, as Sam puts it, kids who have half-lived lives.

Sam almost half-lived a life themself, and the details of their past continue to haunt them when they decide to chase the truth behind the half-lived life of the child who died in Sam’s house 30 years ago.

As they investigate the death, Sam may dig up more than their own past, and could make some startling connections between their own near-death experience and the decades-old case they are studying.

Maya MacGregor brings readers to the heart of trauma, identity, and neurodivergence as it is experienced by amateur sleuth Sam and their friends.

The Bell in the Fog (Evander Mills Book 2)

The Bell in the Fog (Evander Mills Book 2)

By Lev AC Rosen

In the 1950s San Francisco setting of The Bell in the Fog, Evander “Andy” Mills is struggling to get his private detective business off the ground. With the bad reputation that got him kicked off the police force and the suspicion that surrounds him in the queer community as an ex-cop, clients have been hard to come by.

When an ex-partner from the war approaches Andy with a case, he has no choice but to investigate the blackmail, no matter how deeply into the Navy’s history he must probe, or the facts of his own past he will have to examine.

In this noir mystery, Lev Rosen explores the reticent history of the military after World War II, the cruel treatment of the queer community in the 1950s, and the world of deception, scandal, and dangerous secrets that Andy Mills’ investigation drags him back into. 

Lavender House

Lavender House

By Lev AC Rosen

Before The Bell in the Fog, Lev Ac Rosen’s Lavender House was Andy Mills’ first mystery to solve as a private investigator, a case rife with old-money secrets, queer soap-making heiresses, and murder. 

It’s the 1950s, and there are not many places in the queer community where one can go and be unapologetically themselves. Lavender House and its matriarch are the exception.

The estate’s staff and residents are free to live their truth within the elegant walls, but when a mysterious death occurs on the property, and there are no outsiders to blame, suspicions arise about a murderer in their midst. 

With historically accurate depictions of queer culture in the 1950s, Rosen dives into a world of money, love, and power hidden within the walls of Lavender House, and the ugly fates that await its residents outside the gates.

Secret Identity: A Novel

Secret Identity: A Novel

By Alex Segura

Carmen Valdez is closer than ever to fulfilling her dream of writing a superhero book. She’s been enlisted to help write her company’s first female character, “The Lethal Lynx,” by her colleagues at Triumph Comics.

It’s Carmen’s dream come true, until her coworker insists on keeping their collaboration a secret and taking the credit for themself. When they are found dead, with all of Carmen’s scripts already sent to the publisher without Carmen’s name, she is determined to discover the truth of what happened, and lay claim to the share of Lynx that she worked so hard to create.

Set against the comic book industry of 1970s New York, Alex Segura’s Secret Identity is a perfect blend of grit, intrigue, and what it means to be proud of who you are and what you create.

Fatal Shadows: The Adrien English Mysteries 1

Fatal Shadows: The Adrien English Mysteries 1

By Josh Lanyon

Adrien English is an aspiring mystery writer and the owner of Cloak and Dagger bookshop, where his high school friend, Robert, works for him as a bookseller. However, the two have not always been just friends, and when Robert is found dead after a public argument, Adrien is the top suspect.

The case against Adrien gets worse as his attraction toward the lead detective grows stronger. Adrien is almost certain he will be the killer’s next victim unless he and the detective can solve the case before there’s time to strike.

Fatal Shadows, the first installment of Josh Lanyon’s The Adrien English Mysteries, is a classic noir mystery and gay romance in one.

Even Though I Knew the End

Even Though I Knew the End

By C. L. Polk

C.L. Polk’s Even Though I Knew the End is a magical period piece that journeys through the underside of Chicago and all its divine creatures and criminals. In it, we meet Helen Brandt, a young augur who has sold her soul to save her brother’s life.

Before Helen is sentenced to Hell, she is assigned one more task in exchange for the chance to spend the rest of her life with the woman she loves.

Helen has only three days to hunt the White City Vampire, a serial killer running rampant through Chicago, before her life and her love are snatched from her grip – forever. 

Even Though I Knew the End is a gripping tale of sapphic romance, mystery, and magic that you will not want to put down, even if you know the end.

You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight

You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight

By Kalynn Bayron

At Camp Mirror Lake, terror is expected, and paid-for. Charity has her dream role of the “final girl” in a full-contact terror game reenactment of a classic slasher film that she and the rest of the summer crew perform for the Camp’s guests.

Fear is part of the fun, until Charity’s crewmates start to go missing. When one is found dead, Charity and her girlfriend are left to investigate the death and disappearances on their own, before one of them is next.

In You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight, author Kalynn Bayron confronts the classic horror and mystery tropes surrounding queer and BIPOC characters with her gory slasher and dark mystery mashup.

The Girls I've Been

The Girls I've Been

By Tess Sharpe

In the mystery-thriller, The Girls I’ve Been, Tessa Sharpe’s plucky protagonist, Nora O’Malley, has been raised for a life of crime and chaos. The daughter of a con artist who targets criminal men, Nora has managed to escape to live a relatively normal life for the last five years.

That is until Nora, her girlfriend, and Nora’s ex find themselves hostages in a bank robbery. With her unique skill set, Nora is the only hostage who can possibly figure out what the robbers are looking for and get the rest of the hostages out safely.

But she may have to give up her normal life in the process.

The Double Vice: The 1st Hidden Gotham Novel

The Double Vice: The 1st Hidden Gotham Novel

By Chris Holcombe

Set in Prohibition-era New York City, The Double Vice follows the desperate struggle of gay speakeasy owner Dash Parker to catch a killer before Dash and his friends wind up the next victims.

The death of one of Dash’s patrons and the sinister efforts of a blackmailer lead him on an investigation through 1920s New York and into the lives of the city’s residents whose secrets could destroy them. 

It’s a dangerous time to be who you are, and the added threat of a killer on the loose has all of New York’s queer community on edge. It’s up to Dash to catch the killer and bring justice to the victims when no one else will.