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13 LGBTQ+ Thrillers To Get Your Pulse Racing This Pride (And Beyond)

These books feature queer protagonists at the heart of compelling twists and turns.

lgbtq thrillers
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  • Photo Credit: "By Way of Sorrow" by Robyn Gigl

Representation matters. It dismantles stereotypes and allows stories to be told from new perspectives. In the past, LGBTQ+ characters in books, films, and TV shows were largely included only as victims or bland side characters, particularly in the thriller genre. But that stifling characterization isn’t true to the incredible diversity we enjoy in real life.

Related: 16 Powerful Mystery Books by LGBTQ+ Authors to Read During Pride Month and Beyond

In the last few years, more LGBTQ+ authors are creating vivid, thrilling, and utterly haunting stories filled with incredible protagonists. We found 13 thriller books written by queer authors that feature LGBTQ+ protagonists to celebrate PRIDE—and to fill your TBR list all year long.

13 LGBTQ+ Thriller Books

the very nice box

The Very Nice Box

By Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman

Ava Simon works for the furniture company STÄDA. Working to overcome a tragic event that killed her girlfriend, Ava prefers to keep everyone out, putting all her attention on work. But then she gets a new boss. Mat Putnam reminds Ava how nice it can be to open up to someone, and despite her gut instinct, she finds herself falling for him. But Mat isn’t exactly who he seems to be, and falling for him might be the worst mistake of Ava’s life.

Sharp, witty, and utterly engaging, The Very Nice Box will keep you on the edge of your seat until the shocking twist propels you to the end.

we are watching eliza bright

We Are Watching Eliza Bright

By A.E. Osworth

Eliza Bright never expected the gaming community to turn on her. She was happy working as an elite game coder at Fancy Dog Games, and thought they would support her when she filed a workplace harassment report. Instead, they ignored her, forcing her to turn to a journalist who promoted her story far and wide. It was bad enough when she was fired and doxed, but when the male gaming community decides she’s their next target—both online and in real life, Eliza turns to the Sixsterhood for protection. But as each side tries to outmaneuver the other, Eliza is caught in the violent middle.

In the age of social media, We Are Watching Eliza Bright is a glimpse into the horrifying reality that online vitriol can bring.

reprieve

Reprieve

By James Han Mattson

Quigley House is a full-contact haunted escape room. It’s famous for the imaginative horrors it puts contestants through as they try to reach the end without shouting "reprieve," the safe word for escape. Only one group has done this so far, but on April 27, 1997, four contestants make it to the final room, where a significant cash prize waits for them. When a man breaks in and kills one of them, their lives are forever changed as they struggle to face the choices and actions that may have led to that devastating tragedy.

tripping arcadia

Tripping Arcadia

By Kit Mayquist

Lena needs a job. A medical school dropout, the vague job and strange interview for the secretive Verdeaus family is her only option if she wants to help her family avoid bankruptcy. During the day, she works as a doctor’s assistant taking care of the difficult heir, Jonathan. At night, she works overtime at the family’s lavish parties, helping cover up their more heinous deeds, and trying to ignore the blooming attraction for Jonathan’s sister, Audrey. But when Lena discovers that the patriarch is the reason her family is struggling, she vows to get revenge. Every step closer to her goal draws her deeper into their self-indulgent world, until Lena has to decide how far she’s willing to go and who she’s willing to sacrifice along the way.

bath haus

Bath Haus

By P.J. Vernon

Oliver Park should not go into the gay bathhouse. It’s one of the agreements he has with his partner, Nathan. Together, they have the life Oliver has always wanted. He’s sober, stable, and loved. Despite all of that, he goes inside, crossing the line even further when he finds himself in a private room with another man. But things do not go the way Oliver thought they would, and he barely makes it out of that room alive. With a hand-shaped bruise forming on his neck, all Oliver knows is that Nathan can never find out. So, he lies.

Related: 10 Best Crime Novels About Deadly Secrets

With non-stop propulsive action, Bath Haus is a thrilling ride with gut-punch twists.

a burning

A Burning

By Megha Majumdar

Jivan is a Muslim girl who only wants to get ahead in life, but a thoughtless comment on social media brings accusations that she’s a terrorist responsible for an attack on a train. PT Sir is a gym teacher who falls in line with a right-wing extremist group, realizing that Jivan’s downfall could lead to his success. And then there’s Lovely, an exuberant outcast who refuses to let go of her hopes and dreams. She might be the only one who can provide Jivan with the alibi she desperately needs. But if she helps Jivan, she might lose everything she cherishes.

Revolving around three characters with intertwined but conflicting motivations, A Burning is riveting from beginning to end.

books like penny dreadful

Exquisite Corpse

By Poppy Z. Brite

To Andrew Compton, murder is the most intimate form of art one can achieve. After he escapes prison by faking his own death, he travels to the US, determined to elevate his art to the highest form yet. He meets Jay Byrne, a careless playboy who torments and destroys young men in ways Compton hasn’t imagined. Together, they set their sights on Tran, a Vietnamese-American runaway, who they believe is the perfect victim. But Tran’s ex-lover, Luke Ranson, a ranting radio talk show host who’s dying from AIDS, intends on leaving a tsunami of chaos in his wake.

They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

They Never Learn

By Layne Fargo

Scarlett Clark uses her position as an English professor to search for the worst man at her university every year. She meticulously plans their very well-deserved end, and all that planning has kept her activities under the radar. Until now. Just as she’s preparing for her biggest kill yet, the school starts investigating their mounting body count. To stay safe, Scarlett buddies up with the woman in charge, Dr. Mina Pierce. Her strategy works until everything goes awry with her latest victim.

Meanwhile, Carly Shiller just wants to buckle down and relish not being around her abusive father anymore. But her roommate, Allison Hadley, offers Carly everything she’s ever wanted. And when Allison is assaulted at a party, Carly will do anything to make sure her attacker pays.

sexy_books

Fingersmith

By Sarah Waters

Raised by Mrs. Sucksby after she’s abandoned as a baby, Sue Trinder grows up to become part of the family of petty thieves known as fingersmiths. When one of the most charming thieves, Gentleman, comes to town, he brings Sue a tempting offer: become a maid to a naïve but wealthy Maud Lilly and help Gentleman seduce her. Once they’re married, he’ll send Maud away and the two can enjoy her vast inheritance together. But as she gets to know Maud, she begins caring for her in unexpected ways. Except, no one is telling the truth and nothing is what it seems.

all the white spaces

All the White Spaces

By Ally Wilkes

Jonathan Morgan stows away on a ship bound for an Antarctic expedition, hoping to finally be able to live as his true self and gender while having the adventures he’s always been denied. But when they reach the frozen Wendell Sea, disaster forces them to abandon their ship and face the winter on land. They have no way to contact the rest of the world, and no one is going to save them. As winter deepens, something has been waiting for people to arrive. It preys on their desires and fears, picking them off one-by-one, until the entire expedition is at risk of being destroyed completely.

Related: 15 Scary Thrillers for a Dark and Suspenseful Night

mysteries by diverse authors

Lay Your Sleeping Head

By Michael Nava

Henry Rios is a struggling lawyer. His failed career has driven him to drink, so when he meets a charming drug addict, he knows he should stay away. However, an undeniable attraction develops between the two, igniting an obsessive affair. Rios doesn’t believe the stories of his lover's wealthy family with a history of murder—until he finds his body with a needle in his arm.

Rios refuses to believe he relapsed, and sets off on a harrowing journey through the Nob Hill mansions searching for a killer. Instead, he finds the truth behind a legendary fortune and why that secret was worth killing the man he loved.

The first in a series, Lay Your Sleeping Head is a tense murder mystery in the heart of 1980s San Francisco.

The Bright Lands John Fram

The Bright Lands

By John Fram

There are two things the town of Bentley values: football and secrets. Both of these things are threatened when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing. Joel Whitley was shamed out of the town for being gay, but his younger brother’s disappearance brings him back to the place he swore he’d never come back to. But this isn’t the first time a boy has gone missing. An unlikely group of allies will work to dig up the secrets the town is determined to keep buried. Even if they have to face the dangerous men who will do anything to stop them.

by way of sorrow

By Way of Sorrow

By Robyn Gigl

New York criminal defense attorney Erin McCabe just got the case of her career. Four months ago, the son of a powerful Senator was found stabbed in a motel room. 19-year-old Sharise Barnes, a transgender prostitute, is the prime suspect. As a transgender woman, Erin knows she’s uniquely qualified to defend Sharise. She also knows doing so will bring her personal life into the public eye.

Related: 8 Legal Thrillers That Will Have You on the Edge of Your Seat

Sharise claims she killed the man in self-defense, and as the FBI investigates a string of brutal murders, she might be telling the truth. But the investigation threatens to expose secrets that could ruin the Senator’s political aspirations. And he’ll go to extreme lengths to keep those secrets hidden.