The dark months call for dark stories. There’s nothing more delicious than to curl up under a blanket with a hot cocoa (or hot toddy!) and read a fast-paced thriller, twisty mystery, or creepy psychological thriller. If this Queer Crime Writers* round-up is any indicator, 2024 is looking to be a banner year for great LGBTQIA+ crime fiction. We’re highlighting the return of beloved characters, like Greg Herren’s Scotty Bradley, Marshall Thornton’s Henry Milch, and Joseph DeMarco’s Marco Fontana, the second installment of newly beloved characters like Margot Douaihy’s Sister Holiday and Rob Osler’s Hayden McCall, not to mention new characters like Nicholas George’s Rick “Chase” Chasen, a retired San Diego detective on a deadly vacation, and Bailey Bridgewater’s Alaska state trooper, Louisa Linebach. It’s difficult to deny the variety of leading characters, subject matter, tone, and style in these novels. You don’t need to leave the house—or even your warm bed—to experience a wide range of characters and experiences. Hunker down, snuggle up, and read!
*Queer Crime Writers is an organization that advocates for LGBTQIA+ crime fiction authors and creates community for them.
End of 2023
Mississippi River Mischief (Scotty Bradley Mystery, 9), by Greg Herren
Scotty Bradley is back! After a four-year hiatus, Greg Herren’s beloved psychic, former-go-go-boy detective, returns for the ninth installment in the series. It’s spring in New Orleans, and the termites are swarming. A first-time homeowner, Bradley regrets purchasing in the historic French Quarter. Luckily (or unluckily!), a new case distracts him from new home-ownership woes: Bradley’s friend David brings him a new case. One of his students is being harassed by an older man. Soon, Bradley discovers that the older man is a notable politician, and he plunges into the dark side of New Orleans politics and cover-ups. What he doesn’t plan on is shining a light on shadows from his own past. Suddenly, termites don’t seem so bad!
Death on the Water, by C.J. Birch
Forced by her agent and publisher to take a much-needed vacation, investigative journalist Claire Mills boards the inaugural cruise of the Ocean Summit. But on the first day out, the cleaning staff discovers the guest in her neighboring cabin dead. Despite the ship’s authorities ruling it a suicide, she suspects murder. Aided by Moira, the assistant cruise director, she begins to investigate, and the deeper they probe, the greater the danger mounts. Soon, the killer comes for them. They must decide what is more important: finding the killer or surviving eight days together at sea.
Come Find Me in the Midnight Sun, by Bailey Bridgewater
Alaska state trooper Louisa Linebach’s territory is the Kenai Peninsula, where hundreds of young men go missing every year. So, when two men disappear, Louisa doesn’t think it’s unusual. One may be a straightforward suicide, but the other defies all explanation, with the victim’s footprints vanishing along an abandoned mountain runway. As Louisa and her partner investigate, they encounter alien conspiracy theories, a town where all the inhabitants live under one roof, and a drug trade tied to the tourist industry. Their case is further complicated by a police chief unwilling to allow them to investigate his friend and Louisa’s romantic feelings for Anna Fenway, the local medical examiner. When a body is identified, Louisa thinks the case is coming to a close, but it’s just beginning.
The Longest Goodbye, by Mari Hannah, 1/18
The Longest Goodbye is the ninth in Hannah’s long-running series from the UK featuring DCI Kate Daniels. Kate solves another complex case with personal repercussions while navigating her on-again, off-again relationship with criminal profiler Jo Soulsby. Three years ago, Kate investigated the murder of police officer Georgina Ioannau, but the potential culprits were never brought to justice. Now, within hours of their return to the UK, the prime suspects have been shot to death. Could this be the hand of a vigilante? Seeking out the truth will force Kate to confront her mistakes in the original investigation and put her career and her team’s lives on the line. The Kate Daniels series is being developed for television in the UK.
Who To Believe, by Edwin Hill
Edwin Hill’s second standalone thriller carefully weaves a complex tapestry of six unreliable points of view as they converge on a dinner party in the wake of the brutal murder of an unpopular local restaurateur in a small seaside Massachusetts town. When the gathering turns deadly, it is clear that everyone has something to hide, that everyone has a reason to murder, but of these unreliable characters, who is lying to cover up the bloody truth? As we encounter new perspectives, the story reveals its layers, inviting us to question what we’ve been told, each new angle offering more revelations—and perhaps more lies.
Murder on Las Olas, A Marco Fontana Mystery (Book 6), by Joseph R.G. DeMarco
In DeMarco’s sixth book in the Marco Fontana Mystery series, a wedding of one of Fontana’s strippers from his StripGuyz troupe starts with a few glitches, cold feet, and … murder. After the wedding planner’s assistant and then the wedding planner are murdered, Danny is the prime suspect. Marco must figure out who the killer is before Danny says, “I do.” But who else would want to kill the planner and his assistant? Between his role of giving Danny away at the wedding and solving the murder, he might also have found his own love interest. Do we hear wedding bells for Marco, too?
Cirque du Slay, by Rob Osler
Hayden McCall, a pint-sized Seattle middle school teacher and sleuth, is back in this second book in the Hayden & Friends cozy mystery series. Like the first book, Devil’s Chew Toy, in which Hayden investigates the disappearance of a one-night stand, he gets wrapped up in another madcap adventure: the artistic director of an upscale circus art show, Mysterium, is murdered. To complicate things, Hayden’s frenemy, Sarah Lee, is found in the hotel suite with the dead body. Hayden and Hollister, his compatriot in crime-solving, and other friends team up to solve a crime with a truly unique cast of suspects, including a Russian trapeze artist, a cowgirl comedian sharp-shooter, and Adrenalin!, a sexy troop of Romanian male acrobats … Solving this mystery is going to be more complicated than a three-ring circus!
The Fall and Rise of Henry Milch: A Wyandot County Mystery, by Marshall Thornton
As a prolific and versatile author, Thornton has written characters in various locations: Nick Nowak in Chicago, Noah Valentine in Los Angeles, and now, Henry Milch in northern Michigan. In Thornton’s Wyandot County Mysteries, Milch is difficult to like, but you can’t help but root for him. He’s an opioid addict who has been sent to live with his grandmother in northern Michigan after overdosing. He wants to go back to LA to his friends and clubbing. However, in each book, he stumbles over a dead body, thwarting his plan. In The Fall and Rise of Henry Milch, the third in the series, Milch trips and falls on the murdered body of his doctor. If he wants to clear his name and move back to Los Angeles, he must find the real killer.
Blessed Water: A Sister Holiday Mystery, Margot Douaihy
After the critical splash of Douaihy’s debut, Scorched Grace, it’s a thrill to get another Sister Holiday mystery so soon. In Blessed Water, the queer punk nun sleuth now has her PI apprentice certificate and has teamed up with the former fire inspector Magnolia Riveaux for another hard-boiled case: When Holiday and Riveaux set out to dig up dirt on a philandering husband, they discover the corpse of a priest in the rising waters of the Mississippi River. As torrential rains flood the Big Easy, Holiday and Riveaux are committed to bringing a murderer to justice. If fire was the elemental motif for Scorched Grace, water soaks this story of obsession and deception—and a nun’s fascinating struggle between faith and the desire for justice.
The Evening Wolves, by Gregory Ashe
In The Evening Wolves: Iron on Iron Book Four, Ashe brings back Emery Hazard and John-Henry Somerset, who have appeared in various other series he’s penned. In this novel, The Cottonmouth Club operates as a criminal organization, but Hazard and Somerset can’t find any proof of their criminality. Then, when Somerset is framed and arrested for a crime he did not commit, new clues emerge. But Hazard and Somerset are not alone in facing the Cottonmouth Club. North and Shaw from Ashe’s Borealis series show up to help take down the Cottonmouth Club!
Deadly Walk in Devon, by Nicholas George
After the death of his long-time partner, San Diego detective Rick “Chase” Chasen reunites with his dear friend and fellow Anglophile Billie Mondreau for a seacoast holiday in Devon. They join seven other Americans, and everyone seems excited for an English getaway except Ronald Gretz, the wealthy nursing home entrepreneur. Outspoken and rude, Gretz doesn’t like walking, touring, or even England, and he rubs his fellow vacationers wrong, especially his long-suffering trophy wife. But he’s unhappy for a reason: he has been receiving threatening texts and emails signed “An Avenger.” Convinced he’s in danger, he asks Chase to watch his back. Soon, Gretz is dead at the bottom of a cliff, and Chase must investigate to discover who, in their tour group, is a vicious murderer.