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Problem defining genre


I'm having a real issue defining my latest complete novel. It's set in Cypress Park in L.A. and the main protag is a young Hispanic man trying to protect his family from a local gang. The gang leader was the protag's friend when they were kids. Before the story starts there is a drive by that kills the protag's mother and leaves his younger sister brain damaged with a bullet in her brain. The gang leader has a personal vendetta against his ex-friend and through the story the attacks escalate to the point where the protag's old uncle is killed in a house fire and the sister is brutally gang raped. The police can't help, mostly because there are no witnesses willing to talk. So while there's some crime, there's no mystery about who is behind the crime.

An added problem the protag faces is he's gay and does not want to be. He meets a gay LAPD officer and part of the book is his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality. So there is a bit of romance in the book but there's too much tragedy at the end to class it as a true romance.

The closest word I can find to describe it is some kind of suspense since about the only thing that's not known is how it will end with the gang and the protag and how the relationship will end up.

I've described it that way in my queries, but is that accurate? is there a better word?

Every so often an agent will ask me to compare it to something else. I read crime fiction almost exclusively but I can't think of another book quite like it. So I'm really stumped on this one.

I'm best known for my gay police procedurals, so this is a bit different from my usual fare. Any ideas?


It may be a little different than your usual fare, but what you described sounds like it fits the same audience.  Gay-themed Crime Novel, or Gay Urban Crime.  (Gay Crime Novel would make it sound like a novel about Gay Crimes.)


I was very happy to read this.

For most hetero readers, I would think they would define it as a gay novel only if the plot revolves or is anchored around the protagonist's sexual orientation. If the plot is driven by crime, then I'd call it a suspense novel. There are many novels in many genres that have gay characters in them. If most of the action is gang related crime, then it's a suspense/crime novel with a gay character.


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