June was chosen as LGBT Pride Month to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, a landmark event in LGBT history and sexual and gender liberation. (This month also just recently saw, as we know, a tragic event at an LGBT public space: the monstrous mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.) Since the events at Stonewall took place, nearly fifty years ago, the study of LGBT history and literature most definitely has burgeoned. (Today, incidentally, many people, myself included, would add a "Q"--or yet more letters--to the end of the LGBT initialism.)
In the crime and mystery fiction field there have been studies like The Gay Detective Novel (2004), but such books have tended to focus on works published after Stonewall, the post-Stonewall period having seen a tremendous expansion in LGBTQ fiction.
LGBTQ themes in crime and mystery fiction published before Stonewall, during the era of what is commonly categorized pejoratively as "the closet," often are seen as having been far more obscurely or indirectly presented and, when presented at all, distinctly negative in connotation.
Murder in the Closet, now available for pre-order at Amazon and due out in November, deal with crime and mystery fiction published before Stonewall, analyzing LGBTQ themes in books by a myriad of authors, familiar and unfamiliar, and, in a number of cases, looking at the lives and works of LGBTQ crime and mystery writers specifically.
My study of vintage crime and mystery fiction over the last fifteen years or more has convinced me that significant LGBTQ material in these works has been insufficiently acknowledged (when even acknowledged); and I think the essays collected in Murder in the Closet will give readers a new appreciation of the diversity of crime and mystery fiction from this period, contributing to an ongoing scholarly reassessment and making a fresh and exciting contribution to mystery genre studies.
The contributors to the book are, in order of appearance: Lucy Sussex, JF Norris, Noah Stewart, John Curran, Michael Moon, Brittain Bright, JC Bernthal, Moira Redmond, Curtis Evans (aka the Passing Tramp), Charles Rzepka, Rick Cypert, James Doig, Drewey Wayne Gunn, Tom Nolan, Bruce Shaw, Nick Jones and Josh Lanyon. On this blog I plan to discuss the specific essays more over the course of the year, as I interview contributors to the book. Please stay tuned!