9 Mystery Books by Lesbian and Gay Authors

    Close out Pride Month with these gripping whodunits by LGBTQ writers.

    In a genre dominated by straight, male detectives it’s refreshing when a mystery read goes against the grain to feature characters of other sexualities, genders, and backgrounds. Lesbian and gay authors, in particular, have broadened the scope of the genre, shining a light on people and experiences that so often go unheard. Many of these authors did so at the risk of criticism or, depending on the year of publication, even danger.

    The following LGBTQ mystery authors represent some of the best. From a quirky cozy by Rita Mae Brown to Christopher Bram's World War II spy novel, these books break barriers while delivering plenty of twists and turns.

    Joseph Hansen

    Buy A Country of Old Men at Amazon

    A Country of Old Men

    Joseph Hansen published over 40 novels throughout his lifetime, but he is best known for his 12-book mystery series starring David Brandstetter—an insurance investigator who, like Hansen, is openly gay. But David’s sexuality isn’t his defining trait, and he often defies the old stereotypes associated with gay men: He’s really just a normal California guy, albeit one who’s tough-as-nails and good at busting criminals.

    In A Country for Old Men, Brandstetter takes on his final assignment after he encounters a distressed child who claims to have witnessed a gruesome murder. Before he can retire, Brandstetter promises to crack the case and prove that, despite his age, he still has what it takes to catch a killer.

    A Country of Old Men

    By Joseph Hansen

    Christopher Bram

    Buy Hold Tight at Amazon

    Hold Tight

    In Hold Tight, Navy sailor Hank Fayette is arrested during the police's raid of a gay brothel. He’s given a choice: Go to prison and get dishonorably discharged from the miltary—or work at the brothel as an undercover agent. When Hank opts for the latter, he’s left to determine whether there’s any truth in the rumors about Nazi spies lurking in New York City...Set during World War II, this spy thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat while being “very funny, fast-moving...and emotionally stirring” (Publishers Weekly). 

    A master of psychological suspense, Christopher Bram features gay protagonists in all nine of his standalone novels. His other notable book Father of Frankenstein was adapted into the 1998 film Gods and Monsters, which starred Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser. 

    Related: 7 Spy Novels for Fans of Ian Fleming 

    Hold Tight

    By Christopher Bram

    Michael Craft

    Buy Flight Dreams at Amazon

    Flight Dreams

    In Flight Dreams, the first entry in Michael Craft's mystery series, Mark Manning investigates the disappearance of a beautiful airline heiress. While everyone else presumes she’s dead, Manning believes she’s very much alive—and he’s willing to stake his job on it. His biggest lead? The Catholic Church, who will inherit her fortune when she’s officially declared dead. If Manning hopes to solve the case and save his job, he’ll have to mix and mingle with the people who so openly oppose his way of life...

    Flight Dreams

    By Michael Craft

    Paul Monette

    Buy Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll at Amazon

    Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll

    In Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll, one woman's untimely death jeopardizes her Cape Cod estate. In order to save it per her dying wish, the people she left behind—including an actress, her lover, her houseboy and his ex—must takes turns trying to fool the public that she’s still alive.

    In addition to writing novels, Paul Monette was an influential figure in raising AIDS awareness, from which both he and his longtime partner ultimately died. His essays and memoirs recounted his relationships with other men and the heartbreaking experience of losing his partner. 

    Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll

    By Paul Monette

    Scott Sherman

    Buy Third You Die at Amazon

    Third You Die

    Scott Sherman is the author of the Kevin Connor mystery series, whose namesake protagonist is a male prostitute-turned-amateur detective. The series is relatively lighter than other whodunits, with comedic moments adding some levity to the seriousness of Connor’s investigations. In Third You Die, we find Connor taking a nice, restorative break from the world of sex and crime. Instead, he’s producing his mother’s talk show—though the murder of one of her scheduled guests, a gay porn star, draws him back into the world he's just left. 

    Third You Die

    By Scott Sherman

    Sarah Waters

    Buy Affinity at Amazon


    Affinity is a standalone Victorian thriller from Sarah Waters, the author of lesbian classics like Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. After a failed suicide attempt, Margaret Prior must complete her rehabilitation by doing charity work at London’s most dangerous prison. She meets many inmates but is particularly enchanted by Selina Dawes, a medium whom Margaret believes has been falsely convicted of murder. As the women’s relationship intensifies—and the supernatural starts to manifest in their lives—Margaret embarks on a risky mission to free Selina once and for all. Prepare yourself for a killer, I-never-saw-it-coming ending.


    By Sarah Waters

    Rita Mae Brown

    Buy Wish You Were Here at Amazon

    Wish You Were Here

    Co-authored by her pet cat, Rita Mae Brown's Mrs. Murphy series spans 27 books and is still going strong. Wish You Were here is the first installment featuring her quirky crime-solving duo, a talking cat named Mrs. Murphy and corgi Tee Tucker. Their owner, Mary “Harry” Harristeen, has a penchant for opening other people’s mail—and she distinctly remembers reading a couple of sinister postcards. Now that the intended recipients have wound up dead, it seems that Harry may be in danger herself. Determined to protect her, Murphy and Tee become four-legged detectives so that Harry won't become the killer's next victim...

    Wish You Were Here

    By Rita Mae Brown

    Patricia Highsmith

    Buy Strangers on a Train at Amazon

    Strangers on a Train

    The inspiration behind the Hitchcock film of the same name, this Highsmith novel explores guilt, obsession, and trust between strangers. When two men meet on a long train ride—psychotic playboy Bruno and the unhappily married Guy—their journey ends with a disturbing agreement. They will both commit murder on each other’s behalf: While Guy takes out Bruno’s unloving father, Bruno will kill Guy’s unfaithful wife. As strangers, neither will be suspected by the police...right?

    Patricia Highsmith is also the author of The Talented Mr. Ripley—whose namesake antihero is gay—and the lesbian love story that became the film Carol

    Related: Poet of Apprehension: The 9 Best Patricia Highsmith Books 

    Strangers on a Train

    By Patricia Highsmith

    Patricia Cornwell

    Buy Postmortem at Amazon


    Cornwell’s debut, Postmortem, earned her an Edgar Award in 1991 and introduced the now-iconic medical examiner, Kay Scarpetta. Heavily focused on forensic science, the 24-book crime series is believed to have inspired shows like CSI and Cold Case Files.

    In Postmortem, Scarpetta uses forensic technology to link a series of Virginia stranglings, proving that a single serial killer is behind each one—and is still at large. With almost no evidence to speak of, tracking down the criminal will be no easy task. Especially when Scarpetta becomes the next target...


    By Patricia Cornwell

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    Featured photo of Sarah Waters: Alchetron 


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