Welcome to the SheReads Bookish Entertainment column! Each week, enjoy a new article by Garrett Billings— Bookstagrammer, blogger, book-to-screen junkie—on all things Reading + Hollywood. Stars’ book club picks and trailer reveals, book-to-screen news and book pop culture, and of course, Gare’s specialty, choosing his ideal Hollywood casts for book adaptations—Bookish Entertainment has you covered.
June marks the first month of summer, but it’s also something that is also very special to me: Pride Month, a month where the LGBTQ+ community and their allies can come together to celebrate freedom and pride. As a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m always looking to do something extra special when it comes to combining this amazing month with my love of books. For that reason, I have compiled a list of thrillers written by members of the LGBTQ+ community that I would love to see as television or movie adaptations. So, if you’re a thriller lover like me and want to celebrate Pride Month by reading more LGBTQ+ authors, here’s a list of some of my favorite reads by members of this community, and the books I’d love to see on the big or small screen someday!
Bath Haus by PJ Vernon
P.J. Vernon is a sensational storyteller with a wild imagination and a knack for crafting stories filled with twists and turns that even this thriller fanatic never saw coming. Bath Haus tells the story of a young man who has come a long way from the addict he was in Indiana to being now married to a successful doctor in Washington DC. Oliver and his husband Nathan have a beautiful life together – that is, until Nathan goes out of town and Oliver visits a gay bathhouse out of curiosity. Once inside, Oliver is attacked and lies about what happened, to not only cover his tracks, but his bruises as well. From the moment that first lie slips from his lips, Vernon takes the reader on a terrifying and anxiety-filled ride, as well as jaw-dropping moments, that will have you white-knuckled about who will survive.
Hush Little Baby by R.H. Herron
Recently released, Hush Little Baby is a multi-layered, eerie, emotionally charged novel. It’s about a female doctor that is a recovering alcoholic and pregnant with her ex-wive’s biological child. As she tries to get used to a new life and new surroundings, she quickly begins to think she has a stalker breaking into her house to toy with her, and relies heavily on her mommies-to-be-group of best friends for support. What I loved about this story is that there’s an additional vulnerability with the protagonist; she’s not only trying to protect herself, but her unborn child. This is the perfect combination of a psychological thriller and a domestic suspense novel that features an extremely vivid all-female cast and a stalker plot that is executed with precision. I would love to see this on the screen; it would be perfect for fans of Big Little Lies. This is definitely a read that I would recommend for the beach this summer!
A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice
Christopher Rice is one of those authors who can write anything. From psychological thrillers to sci-fi superheroes who hunt serial killers in the Burning Girl series, this man can write brilliant fictional characters and give his readers stories well worth the money paid. A Density of Souls will always be a book that is personally special to me. As a young adult and an avid reader, I had a hard time finding books that featured LGBTQ characters, and one day the bookstore I frequented had this beautiful new release. Let me tell you, this was my first experience devouring a book. I brought it everywhere and read whenever I could. In it, a group of friends is torn apart as they enter high school, leaving one friend as an outcast who deals with bullying and betrayal from his old friends. After two deaths, the friends are reunited years later, and secrets and old feelings are brought to the forefront as deadly consequences jeopardize all of their lives. This story is gut-wrenching, thought-provoking and beautifully written. If you’re looking for a book that is character-driven and bone-chilling, A Density of Souls is a book that you need on your TBR. Reader beware: once you pick up one Rice book, there’s no turning back. All of his reads are truly bingeable works of art.
They Never Learn by Layne Fargo
Layne Fargo is a self-described proud B in LGBTQ+, and her thriller They Never Learn is one of the most perfect novels I have ever read. Bonus, it’s a LGBTQ+ thriller and completely beguiling. There are certain things in a novel that can be completely captivating, and in here, it’s a collegiate setting, a creepy fall atmosphere and dual perspectives. Fargo hit the nail on the head with this novel, a feminist thriller reminiscent of Dexter. Dr. Clark is a serial killer who brings bad men to their demise, and has yet to even be considered a suspect. As she prepares for a personal and rather noticeable kill, she brings herself a little too close for comfort in an investigation as a dashing female detective beings to investigate the schools rather large bodycount. Meanwhile, a freshman named Carly is experiencing freedom with her new best friend Allison. That is, until Allison is sexually assaulted and Carly becomes obsessed with rage and revenge. As the two female characters deal with heinous men and both come riddled with a lust for blood, the novel takes some wild turns and would be perfect for a miniseries a la Dexter meets Killing Eve.
Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage
If you’re looking for a more emotionally charged thriller with a dazzling plot and thriller undertones, Yes, Daddy is the book for you. When Jonah moved to New York City, he had big dreams and unfortunately, those dreams are on hold while he works at a restaurant to barely make ends meet. Upon seeing the charming Richard, Jonah crafts a plan for the twos paths to cross and the “chance” meeting turns into a disastrous affair. Soon, Jonah is in the Hamptons with Richard and his friends, noticing all of the gorgeous young men that work for them are covered in bruises. As the affair comes to a terrifying end, Jonah is soon on Richards bad side and begins to regret everything he did to try to get a step ahead. This book is such a great LGBTQ+ fictional story that has equal parts thriller, a survivor story, and a book that will take the reader in so many different directions. I would love to see this as a series that really explores the psyche of the journey Jonah takes throughout this story.
The Bright Lands by John Fram
The Bright Lands is an LGBT horror thriller perfect for fans of Stephen King. The setting is incredibly eerie and the plot is immersive and unique. While I would consider this one character driven and also scary, it has a supernatural element featured in a believable and effective way. The characters are vivid and the setting would translate beautifully to screen. With its great pacing, it blew me away with an ending that is sensationally shocking. In it, a man who was shunned from his conservative hometown returns home years later when his brother goes missing. Upon his return, he reunites with an old friend who is now a deputy and also had a brother go missing years ago. Combining their perspectives with a high school student who is suspicious of his friends, they not only dig up terrifying buried secrets, but are terrorized by an urban legend that has haunted their small town.
These Violent Delights by Micah Nemerever
These Violent Delights is a heartbreaking literary thriller about a two men in Pittsburgh in the 1970s who meet in college. One is kind of a loner and the other is grieving the loss of his father, so the relationship and how it starts is emotional as these two characters embark on a journey from friendship to lovers—and the result is the two men being thrown into a world of violence and obsession. This book is beautifully plotted and the characters are vivid. The story is immersive with almost this dark cloud feeling that overwhelms you while you read it. It is perfect for fans of The Secret History and Patricia Highsmith.