Redeeming Christian Crime Fiction

It wasn’t long ago a wonderful Christian crime fiction writer was blasted for “objectionable content” on Amazon by a Christian reader. Then another Christian wanted to know how fellow Christians could recommend a particular noir Christian suspense novel.

I really had to ponder this before committing words to cyber space.

It’s sad but true that some Christian readers think of Christian crime fiction, the more noir variety, as something too nasty to read. The best of it, to my mind, is a journey that faces down evil and calls for justice. A story where flawed characters, all capable of their own wrong doing, seek justice for the crime victim and some sort of resolution for the victim’s loved ones.

In the midst of the hunt for the killer, the detective/hunter is faced by the true, unvarnished nature of evil and encounters his/her own dark capabilities. It’s not easy to look into the eyes of a demon and it’s even harder to look into our own souls and find the proclivity toward what is not holy. Yet this is where modern crime fiction dares to go.

This brings to mind the Scripture, Romans 3: 9-10    What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we before laid to the charge both of Jews and Greeks, that they are all under sin;  as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…[American Standard Version].

As this is the Easter season, my mind turns to the concept of redemption and naturally as a writer I think about redemption themes in writing. To be redeemed, one needs something to be redeemed from. If we don’t have the capability of sin, what need have we of the Holy Spirit?

This Easter, is the eve of the release of my debut novel, BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder and romance). This novel is set on Long Island, NY in 1946, at the close of World War II. The era appeals to me as it’s one in which ordinary Ameican citizens had a great deal of class and dignity. But it’s also a time of loss of innocence for Americans. They’d seen the horror of a world war, on the heals of the first world war which had been billed as the war to end all wars. They had to face 405,000 American dead in the war and 671,000 wounded.

I don’t see my writing as noir, but I do see it as crime fiction. BURNING HEARTS has an equal measure of suspense, action, and romance, as well as a good dose of humor thrown into the mix. I have tried not to shy away from the reality of an evil presence on the earth and the capablility of evil lurking somewhere in the corners of the souls of my characters, even my Christian characters.

I hope I walk in the path forged by Robert Liparulo, J. Mark Bertrand, Sibella Giorello, Mike Dellosso, Steven James, Eric Wilson, and others. These authors have asked some of the big questions in their stories. Those are big shoes prints to follow. I might have to call forensics and have a few plaster casts made.  

17 thoughts on “Redeeming Christian Crime Fiction

  1. Fantastic post. Evil is everywhere. Turn on the TV, pick up a paper, or browse the internet. I think dark stories can and should be told from the perspective of a Christian. We can point to hope and reveal light, not casting any glory on evil. I'm looking forward to reading your book!

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  2. Jessie, My stories fall squarely into the niche of crime fiction. However I write equal measures of suspense, action, and romance and also throw in a heavy measure of humor. I do deal with some very heavy duty sub-themes and since it's a murder mystery it has to deal with evil, but the romance and humor do lighten it. After all there is also love, joy, and laughter in life.

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  3. Great post, Nike. Reminds me of the scene on the cross, the Savior between two thieves. For both thieves, salvation existed within their grasp. In crime fiction, similar choices are offered. Sometimes, the story is more about the path characters choose than the ultimate resolution of the plot.Congratulations on BURNING HEARTS.

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  4. Mark, I agree completely. In crime fiction it's often about the choices characters make. And it's not only the detective/hero(ine) who has to make choices. There may be cops or politicians who have to choose to stay legit or go bad. A detective's wife or finace who must decide to stay true or be unfaithful.In many stories when the detective finally catches the henious killer he/she has to decide to simply book 'em or to cave in to baser emotions and do the killer harm.

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  5. Nike,I really like your post and am sure I'll in turn like your book. Congrats!It's so important to realize that evil and sin lurk in all of us. It's Jesus and the choice to follow Him that makes us different.

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  6. Tracy, You know me girl. No bravery on my part, no huge powers of discernment. I'm just too stupid not to go where others fear to tread. LOLBut I see life happening around me every day…heartbreaking, messy, painful, stumbling, fumbling, and also joyous, loving, and uplifting. It even happens to Christians this way. Christians don't get to escape the fumbling, bumbling part. I go, what? What's this? I need to write about this.I see beauty and nobility in the creation. God did make us in His image after all. But, to me the nobility is in the going through the mess.

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  7. I enjoyed your article, Nike. It's great to see such a thoughtful approach to writing in this genre. Interesting list of authors at the end. I'm curious what you think ties them together.Becky

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  8. Rebecca, Glad you enjoyed the article. I think what ties my ending list of authors together is that they ask hard questions about the human condition and are not afraid to portray main characters with flaws.

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  9. Looks like I'm late to the party, but I just found your blog and enjoyed reading your article. I agree. We are all flawed as humans. Only through Christ are we able to stand redeemed. To write without showing sin and evil for what it is, is to whitewash the truth. Not that all readers want to read truth. Just as many people won't pick up a newspaper or turn on the news because they like to see the world through rosy glasses, there are those who will only read sweet, pretty stories. But, there is a place for both, just as there is a place for uplifting stories of Christ's miracles in the Bible and stories of God's people falling into sin and the repercussions of that. God certainly didn't gloss over evil, whitewash and sanitize his word so that Christians would only read sweet stories.We learn from both.Congrats on the new book! Wish you all the best.

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  10. Barbara, Thx for stopping by. I certainly enjoyed your very astute comments.As in every other aspect of life, I think the Bible is our model for how to write. I think you're right to point out the Bible has many different scenerios. It also has many different types and styles of writing. Blessings. 🙂

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