by Matt Lubbers-Moore
June is Pride Month!!
Fifty-four years ago, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, drag kings and queens, people of color, and white, all had enough and fought back against the unfair and discriminatory treatment they experienced in every civilized sphere: social, economic, and government. The LGBTQ+ community has seen huge expanses in equal rights: marriage, serving in the military, and in some states civil rights protections. However, as the LGBTQ+ community gains rights, the far right continues to attack and try to push the community back into the closet.
Public Libraries are losing funding for carrying titles like Gender Queer and Not All Boys are Blue, and they are threatened by white nationalist groups. School libraries are under constant attack from communities who wish to prevent not just their own kids but all the kids from reading material they deem “obscene.”
According to CNN, 417 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures in 2023. Of those, 283 involved education, 142 were regarding healthcare, 39 sought to ban drag shows, 38 attacked the civil right protections, 15 sought to make individuals list their gender at birth on all state identifications, 9 dealt with limiting public accommodations like unisex bathrooms, and 43 bills were introduced to create other barriers for the LGBTQ+ community. The Healthcare attacks are aimed to block Trans youth from getting gender-affirming care such as puberty blockers.
The fight for equality will not end until all of us have the same rights to education, healthcare, housing, marriage, and job security that everyone else has. Support LGBTQ+ authors by buying their books, writing reviews, and sharing on social media.
On with the Books!
The Black Carnation by Fergus Hume
Originally published in 1892; re-released in print in May 2023, Requeered Tales
The Black Carnation would be a sign of her impending death. An opera singer took her final bow, accepted a beautiful bouquet of white flowers with a black carnation in the center, and as she grasped the bouquet it detonated a bomb killing her instantly. Who would want her dead? Was it one of her suitors who would rather see her dead than with someone else? A jealous servant? Or someone from her past? Who gave Mazzucata the Black Carnation?
The Black Carnation is the first mystery novel to include a gay character, although for its time, the character had to be circumspect and not obvious to Victorian readers. The main character is a confirmed bachelor, loves opera, and belongs to a club which only allows bachelors of a certain age unless a younger member has support from a current member with whom are then devoted upon.
BeatNikki’s Café by Renee James
Out June 6, 2023, Amble Press
Nikki Finch is a successful transgender woman with a thriving Beatnik cafe and a comfortable life until the first summer of the Trump presidency sets off a wave of violence against minorities. Nikki’s carefully curated world is shattered when a neo-Nazi thug attacks her business partner. She comes to his rescue, but her efforts launch a chain of events that imperil her and everyone she loves, especially her angst-ridden daughter, Morgan.
Killingly by Katharine Beutner
Out June 6, 2023, Soho Crime
Massachusetts, 1897: Bertha Mellish, “the most peculiar, quiet, reserved girl” at Mount Holyoke College, is missing. As a search team dredges the pond where Bertha might have drowned, her panicked father and sister arrive desperate to find some clue to her fate or state of mind. Bertha’s best friend, Agnes, a scholarly loner studying medicine, might know the truth, but she is being unhelpfully tightlipped, inciting the suspicions of Bertha’s family, her classmates, and the private investigator hired by the Mellish family doctor. As secrets from Agnes’s and Bertha’s lives come to light, so do the competing agendas driving each person who is searching for Bertha.
The Gulf by Rachel Cochran
Out June 13, 2023, Harper
In Parson, Texas, a small town ravaged by a devastating hurricane and the Vietnam War, twenty-nine-year-old Lou is diligently renovating a decaying old mansion for Miss Kate, the elderly neighbor who has always been like a mother to her. Mourning her brother’s death in Vietnam, Lou dreams of enjoying a more peaceful future in Parson. But those hopes are crushed when Miss Kate is murdered, and no one but Lou seems to care about finding the killer. The situation becomes complicated when Joanna, Miss Kate’s long-estranged daughter and Lou’s first love, arrives in Parson — not to learn more about her mother’s death but for the house. Her arrival unearths sinister secrets involving the history of the town and its residents … revelations that may be the key to helping Lou discover the truth about Miss Kate’s death and her killer.
The Wicked Unseen by Gigi Griffis
Out June 20, 2023, Underlined
From the moment Audre arrives in rural Pennsylvania, it’s clear she won’t fit in. After all, her nose ring, her horror movie obsession, and her family’s Ouija board collection aren’t likely to endear her to a town convinced there’s a secret Satanic cult conducting rituals in the nearby woods. When the preacher’s daughter and Audre’s crush, Elle, goes missing on Halloween weekend, the town is quick to point fingers in Audre’s direction. With the cops busy harassing her family for being nonbelievers and everyone else convinced demons are to blame, Audre realizes she might be the only person who can find her friend.
Hunter’s Revenge by Gerri Hill
Out June 20, 2023, Bella Books
When a seventy-one-year-old man is shot dead in his home, it seems like a random act of violence, but the hundreds of photos of Detective Tori Hunter found at the scene seem to say otherwise. And when the gun that proves to be the murder weapon in the brutal murder of Tori’s family some thirty-something years earlier is found, Tori is not only facing her past, but a massive conflict of interest.
Help Wanted by Marshall Thornton
Out Soon ???
This is the sixth book in the Lambda Literary Award winning series Pinx Video. Noah owns Pinx Video in Silver Lake, California, and along with his friends and landlords, they are constantly tripping over dead bodies in this cozy mystery.
Save Me by Scarlet Blackwell; out June 1, 2023: MM Mystery
The Devil Card by Chris Holcombe; out June 1, 2023: Gay Historical
King Hunt by Layla Reyne; out June 6, 2023: MM Mystery
Effigy by W. Dale Jordan; out June 17, 2023: Gay Suspense
Is She Lying by Frances Lucas; out June 20, 2023: YA Lesbian Mystery
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Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.