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Gritty Christian Crime Fiction Is Counter-Culture
Hey -- isn’t crime fiction by it’s very nature supposed to be gritty? I think so!!! Listen, crime fiction starts right at the get-go, or should, with a murder and a less than pretty crime scene. Murder’s not nice. It’s hard to sanitize murder, and the question begs, should we? In today's world many of our television shows, video games, and movies make us emotionally detached from violence. I think Christian crime fiction should never do this, but instead should increase reader awareness of the violation and indignity done to the victim and the pain of loss loved ones suffer. In a sense, gritty Christian crime fiction writers are engaging in a counter culture activity.
Not so much now as in the past, but I’ve read Christian suspense where the author didn’t even get to the murder until I’d gotten through a quarter of the book, or more. Page after page I was wondering, where’s the body? And then, when I got to the crime scene it was obvious the author hadn’t done enough research. The police procedure was waaaaaay off. More than a few Christian suspense novels of the past have had a non-law enforcement heroine traipsing around the crime scene and happening upon vital clues the cops somehow missed. Duh, like that would really happen!
A lot is changing now. I’m glad to see books out like PATTERN OF WOUNDS and BACK ON MURDER by J. Mark Bertrand, who knows his police procedure and internal cop politics. He also knows cop culture. THE KEVLAR HEART by former police officer Janice Cantore gives a glimpse into the wreckage left of lives and families when a child is kidnapped by a predator. We’re in a day when Christian mystery readers no longer have to turn to secular writers to get their crime fiction craving fed. They’re finding satisfying thrillers and detective stories right at home with a Christian world view. My Sanctuary Point series novels GOODBYE NOEL and BURNING HEARTS are historical romantic thrillers. I've done the research to accurately portray life on the south shore of Long Island, NY in the 1940s. The pace keeps going, but the romance is also there. I believe these two novels strive to bring something that matters to the table. They're more than who dun its. There's a fight between good and evil going on. There are few things more evil than to take another human being's life. And yet we see our culture becoming numb to that and numb to other transgressions.
Gritty Christian crime fiction is not a cozy mystery with a sermonette added. In fact, crime fiction readers would just assume the author skip the preaching and get on with the chase. For crying out loud, there’s a killer to catch. So, what makes the story Christian? Recurring themes of redemption, forgiveness, restoration, and grace are a few clues that it just might be Christian fiction. Just because a story’s “clean as a whistle” doesn’t make it Christian to my mind.
Increasingly, the Christian crime fiction reader wants to find authenticity in plot, characterization, and scenario. They want to find detectives and beat cops who sound like they actually might be in law enforcement, not lost members of the bridge club in search of a novel to inhabit. The crime fiction reader won’t be turned off to Christianity if a Christian character stumbles, seriously so. It makes Christianity all the more attractive. God offers us a second chance to get it right.
I’ve heard it said that edgy Christian romance is not afraid to mention body parts. Well, that’s certainly the case in gritty Christian crime fiction, except that the body parts are likely to be strewn all over the crime scene. And talking about body parts, what about a good autopsy scene? Wow, I'm getting excited already! Increasingly we’re seeing good Christian crime fiction out there. If you want a rip roaring ride with no shortage of grit there's Robert Liparulo [GERM and COMES A HORSEMAN]. On lady who's not afraid to write grit is Sibella Giorello in her Raliegh Harmon series.
Thank Nike. I'd been wondering where those bodies are as well. And I have to agree with you about Sibella Giorello--good stuff!
Find out more about Nike Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista here.
Purchase Goodbye Noel on Amazon.(Desert Breeze) ~ Winter themed (1946/47) ---murder, mayhem, an orphaned infant, kidnap and romance. Can Katrina Lenart and Det. Ian Daltry catch a kller before he strikes again?
Purchase Burning Hearts on Amazon (Desert Breeze) ~ Historical Romantic Thriller ---arson/murder and romance. Can Erica Brogna and Lorne Kincaid catch a wanton killer and thwart those who are trying to frame Lorne for the crime?