How Does Christian Crime Fiction Measure Up?

Posted by James Warwood  ·  Be the first to comment

With over 2 million book library loans, the prolific American author James Patterson is the UK’s “Most Borrowed Author”. According to Forbes, he is now the richest author in the world having earned an astonishing $94 million in 2011.

Crime fiction seems to be the most popular genre in the UK knocking romance off the top spot. But how do the Christian counterparts measure up to the Kings & Queens of Crime? Read on to uncover some top-quality Christian authors and best-selling crime novels.

The Mainstream Market – Cornwell, Reichs & Rose

Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Karen Rose are considered mainstream crime writers. They have everything your average crime reader is after: fast-paced storylines, the lawyer/police viewpoint, intriguing characters, suspense around every corner and the power to keep you turning the pages.

If this is the kind of book that keep you up all night reading past bed time, let me introduce you to 3 Christian authors:

Mainstream Christian Crime Fiction

Dee Henderson, Irene Hannon & Lynette Eason

Dee Henderson

She’s sold 3 million copies, written 16 books and won 3 awards. She’s certainly earned the title of ‘bestselling author’. Her latest book, Full Disclosure, brings together Ann Silver, homicide investigator, and Paul Falcon, the FBI’s top murder cop, when Silver is forced to hand over a difficult, somewhat personal case. Her critically acclaimed O’Malley series is also worth a glance.

Writing Style: Christian crime and suspense with romantic twists.

Endorsements: “Solid storytelling, compelling characters…Highly recommended.” — Library Journal on 'The Negotiator'.

“Henderson’s writing can have a magical quality that keeps readers turning the pages…” — Publishers Weekly on 'The Healer'.

Irene Hannon

With 10 awards to her name, Irene is a decorated cross-over author between crime and romance. Her Guardians of Justice series follow daring siblings fighting for justice that will have you biting your nails in suspense. Plus she’s a keen vocalist, singing in amateur productions and her church.

Writing Style: Expert storytelling, but more romance-suspense than through-and-through crime fiction.

Endorsements: “An ever-climatic mystery ... engaging sure-footed.” – Publisher’s Weekly.

“Fine-tuned suspense.” – Library Journal.

Lynette Eason

An esteemed, veteran author within the suspense fiction market, Lynette’s books always includes law enforcement, and an element of medicine. She’s very good at painting the wider picture having meticulously researched her plots and locations. Her latest series, Deadly Reunions is a potent mixture of chilling suspense and complex relationship.

Writing Style: Fast-paced, heart-pounding thrillers that aren’t at all preachy. Master of characterisation.

Endorsements: "Nonstop action. No chance to catch your breath!" — Irene Hannon, best-selling author.

"An exciting ride with characters you will care about." — Margaret Daley, award-winning Steeple Hill romantic suspense author.

The Darker Side of Crime Fiction – James Patterson

If you’re one of the readers who James Patterson has to thank for his title of richest author in the world, it means you’re looking for crime fiction with grit. These books have the same fast-paced, intense and suspenseful feel as mainstream authors, but take you down the dark allies and shady back streets of morality and humanity.

This sub-genre of crime fiction should come with warning signs to ward off the faint hearted from opening their blood soaked pages. Inside you’ll find gore, violence, the psychotic and the sinister. If I haven’t put you off, the work of these two Christian authors might be for you:

Dark Christian Crime Fiction

Steven James & Ted Dekker

Steven James

With over 30 books to his name, Steven James is considered to be one of America's most innovative storytellers. He is famous for creating the FBI Special Agent Patrick Bower thriller series; a cutting-edge, logic-driven investigator on the hunt for grisly killers. 

Writing Style: His masterful plots deliver adrenaline pumped reads of action and spine-chilling suspense.

Endorsements: "Forget what you know. Steven James turns everything upside-down in The Bishop. This is thriller writing at its absolute best." – TheChristianManifesto.com, praise for The Bishop.

“... master storyteller at the peak of his game.” – Publisher’s Weekly.

Ted Dekker

This New York Times best-selling author has written more than 20 novels in crime fiction, supernatural thrillers and fantasy novels. He is best known for crafting unforgettable suspense thrillers with knock-out twists, like The Bride Collector, Thr3e and House (co-written with Frank Peretti).

Writing Style: Expertly crafted storylines, thrillers that make your bones shiver.

Endorsements: "Ted Dekker is a true master of thrillers, and this is his best." – Nelson DeMille, praise for Thr3e.

"...a tour-de-force of suspense that demands to be read in one sitting." – James Rollins, praise for The Bride Collector.

The Inspector Morse Factor – Colin Dexter

Mortal Fire by C.F. Dunn

Secret of the Journal Series

There’s something about the ‘police inspector’ style of storytelling that makes a great read. The quest for truth, catching the culprit, piecing the clues together, delivering justice and making the world a safer place. It’s the classic who-dunnit plot that’s been written a million times over - Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, the list is endless. Why? – because it keeps on selling (and keeps on re-appearing on our TV screens).

If Collin Dexter is one of your favourite crime fiction writers and Inspector Morse is one of your favourite fictional characters, I recommend you get your magnifying glass out and look at this author:

C.F. Dunn

Solving the mystery, uncovering the truth and connecting the dots is what C.F. Dunn does best. Her mystery thriller Mortal Fire is the first in the exciting series, The Secret of the Journal, which follows a young professor of history at Cambridge University who discovers a 300 year old journal.

Writing Style: Vivid, enthralling writing which grabs your undivided attention until the very end.

Endorsements: “An ominous sense of developing tension ... a most fluent writer. If I could say one thing ... Read this!” – Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse.

Classic Crime Fiction – Agatha Christie

The ‘Queen of Crime’, Agatha Christie, is responsible for the rise of crime fiction. Her expertly crafted plots keep readers hooked with fictional detective greats, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, as they solve the unsolvable. This sub-genre of historical crime fiction is considered to be PG rated, but certainly doesn’t lack twists, turns and mind-bending surprises.

If you secretly wish you were in an Agatha Christie novel, here’s two authors you should become better acquainted with:

Classic Crime Fiction

Donna Fletcher Crow & Melvin R Starr

Donna Fletcher Crow

Historically rich in church history and British heritage, Donna’s books have everything history buffs could ever need. Don’t be fooled, her books are not history journals, they are suspense-packed mysteries set in cathedrals, monasteries and full of spiritual happenings. Her Monastery Murders series is both inspirational and gripping.

Writing style: Mixture of observational mystery, intellectual puzzles, spiritual aspiration and romance in the ancient and modern world.

Endorsements: "… the mental gymnastics will have you breathlessly soaking in British and church history as you puzzle through a satisfying spiritual adventure with romantic, quirky characters." – Church Libraries Journal.

“You won't need a bookmark - you'll read it in a single sitting." – Mike Orenduff, 2011 Lefty Award Winner, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein.

Melvin R. Starr

An expert in medieval history, Melvin has created an Agatha Christie character in 14th century Britain. Hugh de Singleton, a forensic detective, seems to invite mysterious murders into his village which he has to investigate using his primitive methods. The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton series takes you deep into the fourteenth century world of church, politics, everyday life... and crime.

Writing Style: Eloquent medical description with deep insight into a period in history. Oh, and thrilling plots difficult to put down.

Endorsements: “Enthusiastically recommended for fans of medieval mysteries and historical fiction. There's something for everyone, even a little romance.” – Mini Book Bytes Review.

25th October

October 25th, 2012 - Posted & Written by James Warwood

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