Last month when I rounded up the best LGBTQ thrillers, I was amazed with how much progress the genre’s seen in terms of queer representation over the past few years. As a queer mystery writer myself, I’m aware of how difficult it can be to find crime novels with LGBTQ protagonists, even as publishers are making better efforts.
These ten LGBTQ mystery novels all feature queer main characters in a genre where queer people are often relegated to token side characters. I have placed an emphasis on books that are written by queer authors for this list as well. Most are series starters, though I’ve also included a few standalones for those that aren’t in the reading mood to commit to a full series right now.
Once you’ve checked out these queer mystery reads, be sure to visit this list of the best diverse cozy mysteries for more book recs. While this list features a variety of sub-genres, from cozy to noir, the recs there are perfect for when you’re in the mood for mysteries that are mood-boosting aren’t too heavy on violence or gore. This list on the best mysteries and thrillers by Black authors is an excellent resource for book recs as well.
10 LGBTQ Mystery Books
Dead Dead Girls (Harlem Renaissance #1) by Nekesa Afia
Louise Lloyd is a waitress living in 1920s Harlem who wants nothing more than to live comfortably and far away from her past. But when a series of Black girls are murdered — and one is found near Louise’s café — she knows she can’t trust the authorities to find the culprit. It’s up to Louise to catch the killer, even if it makes her a potential target.
Hither, Page (Page and Sommers #1) by Cat Sebastian
After serving in World War II, Jamie Sommers longs for a quiet life as a doctor — one where he can hopefully recover from his own traumas. But when a grisly murder shocks the countryside village where he lives, he worries that violence can be found anywhere, even in seemingly quiet communities.
An alluring, yet mysterious stranger named Leo Page seems to be the only person who knows what might be going on. Together, Sommers and Page set out to solve the murder. But when unexpected feelings arise amidst the danger, their investigation becomes increasingly complicated.
The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2) by Elly Griffiths
Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone. I don’t feel that I could compile a list of queer mysteries without mentioning it, as I was thrilled to discover while reading that of the four protagonists, three are queer. That’s almost unheard of in mystery novels and was a delight to see.
At first, 90-year-old Peggy Smith’s death seems like an open and shut case. But when her caretaker discovers that Peggy is mentioned in a number of crime writers’ postscripts — one of whom is found dead — Detective Sergeant Harbinder Kaur is called to investigate.
Lay Your Sleeping Head (Henry Rios #1) by Michael Nava
This series starter is a reimagining of Michael Nava’s first Henry Rios novel published over 30 years ago, The Little Death. As a gay Latino defense lawyer in 1980s San Francisco, Henry Rios is determined to serve clients that his straight, white colleagues refuse to take on.
When he meets a recovering drug addict who tells him compelling family secrets about murder and deceit, Rios falls hard. But his lover is soon found murdered, and Rios refuses to believe — or trust the authorities to rule — that the death was accidental.
In the Winter Woods by Isabelle Adler
How well is mystery writer Declan Kensington’s career going, you ask? Poor enough that if his next novel isn’t a hit, he may be out of a job. When he takes a trip to his family’s lakeside cabin in Vermont, he expects relaxation. What he gets, however, is framed — for murder. This cozy mystery is just as delightful and atmospheric as its cover, perfect for enjoying in a comfy nook with a large mug of hot cocoa.
Chaser (Jinx Ballou, Bounty Hunter #1) by Dharma Kelleher
Jinx Ballou is a bounty hunter — one of the toughest around. When another bounty hunter fails to locate a girl who jumped bail after being charged for her mother’s murder, Jinx is assigned to the case.
But there’s more to this disappearance that meets the eye and, if Jinx wants to make it out of this chase alive, she will need to stay sharp.
Murder Most Actual by Alexis Hall
True crime podcaster Liza’s relationship with her wife has hit a rough patch, but she’s hoping a vacation to the Scottish Highlands will be enough to reignite that spark. Neither of them expected Liza’s work to follow them there, in the worst way possible. When a murderer strikes at their hotel and the guests are trapped, it’s up to Liza to catch the killer and (hopefully) save her marriage along the way.
Bury Me When I’m Dead (Charlie Mack Motown Mystery #1) by Cheryl A. Head
When Detroit private investigator Charlie Mack is assigned to a missing person case, she assumes the case will be simple to crack — giving her more than enough time to care for her mother, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. But looks can be deceiving and, as she searches for answers, she finds herself immersed in dark family secrets that could put her in danger.
Poisoned Primrose (Motts Cold Case Mystery #1) by Dahlia Donovan
Eager to escape her hectic London life, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley moves to a seemingly quiet Cornwall village. But when she discovers a body buried in her cottage garden, she’s unexpectedly thrown into a murder investigation. Motts decides to conduct some sleuthing of her own but doing so puts a target on her back — and she must catch the killer before she becomes the next victim.
Criminal Gold (Cantor Gold Crime #1) by Ann Aptaker
Cantor Gold may be an art smuggler, but hey, everyone’s gotta make a living somehow. When her latest gig goes wrong, Cantor somehow finds herself with the body of Opal Shaw — the fiancée of crime kingpin Sig Loreale. If you’re in the mood for a 1940s noir that’s as compelling as it is wonderfully queer, this is an excellent choice.
Looking for more mystery recs? Check out these eight mystery novels that feature female sleuths.