Mysterious Christian Mystery

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PW says Christian mystery–in the classic sense–is a tough sell.

Can "Whodunits" Still Do It? Part 1

Maybe I’m missing the point, but there’s a lot of "modern" Christian mystery/suspense on the shelves. Pretty much every publisher who does fiction has some or has made a concerted go of it. Maybe there isn’t a lot of classic mystery, but is there much classic anything? There’s a good heap of cozy mystery.

I don’t know. Is it harder for "classic mystery" than for other classic genres among all the modern ones?

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7 thoughts on “Mysterious Christian Mystery”

  1. If by “classic mystery” you mean Raymond Chandler and not the Grandmother of Cozy, Agatha Christie, then I could see why that would be the case.
    I get the impression that I’m really out of place among my Christian friends because I like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett so much. That’s probably because Christians are so addicted to pretty. They make up their own interpretations of that verse that talks about thinking about things that are good and noble and holy.
    I think mystery in general (exempting cozy, which is a weird kind of mystery anyway…mystery-lite or mystery-minus-trans-fat or something), and noir in particular, would be hard sells in a purely “Christian” audicence simply because they’re, almost by definition, dark and troubling. There may be a balance, or a way to offset the shadows, but the core of the story, to be called a mystery, seems to demand a seriously troublesome situation (usually a murder, but that seems to be increasingly cliche these days…a la Da Vinci Code…with all the advances in technology).
    Christians spend a lot of time and energy revalidating what they believe. I personally think it’s because they don’t have a firm understanding of their faith and need all the reinforcement they can get. They don’t want more questions and that unsettling feeling you get when you’re not sure something is really the way you see it. I think that becomes a lifestyle and everything they consume has to keep telling them that they’re okay. That they’re saved. That they’re going to Heaven and it’ll all be wonderful. Because if they were brutally honest with themseleves, they might find out that they want that stuff so badly (anything with a “Christian” label affixed) because deep down, they weren’t sure about their salvation or their faith.
    And then there’s those who ARE sure about their faith and they’re well-adjusted and they just want a well-written book to escape into for a few hours. Probably fewer of those than the former, which is reflected by lower numbers at the cash register.

  2. I don’t read too many mysteries because of my nightmares, but I wouldn’t mind seeing something like Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller. Maybe I’m mixing genres, but some crime with dry humor, now that I like.
    (And for the record, I do love Christie.)

  3. I read that article yesterday, too. Honestly between that and the one that ran on Monday (“It’s a Fantasy” by Juli Cragg Hilliard), you’d think that CBA doesn’t have any success with genre fiction. And that we never will. I disagree. One woman’s opinion here.

  4. I’d love to see some Brother Cadphile (not sure of the spelling) quality mystery in the CBA. As I would love to see fantasy of a high caliber. The latter is beginning to surface, though, so maybe there’s hope for mysteries, too.
    Becky

  5. I love a good mystery. Walter Mosley is my favorite.
    This year I had the pleasure of reading Sibella Giorello’s The Stones Cry Out(Revell.) I even featured the book on Christian Fiction Blog. It was gritty and written very well.
    What I am beginning to think is that we don’t talk read enough books in our genre.

  6. I think there’s a lot of works out there that could qualify as “mystery” but get stuck in some other category.
    All it really takes is one good success to bring any genre back into the limelight for a while.

  7. I have yet to find a good Christian mystery. A stellar, literate mystery in the Christian marketplace. There are mysteries out there: mostly cute, bordering-on-chicklit with a gimmick or two.
    I am waiting for another Dorothy L.Sayers —- but wholly Christian and published by a Christian press.
    Hardboiled, perchance?
    I find a lot of thrillers—but good mystery? Hard to come by.

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