Mystery Genre Originated W/Christian World View



I’ve read that the genre of Murder Mystery Fiction, Detective Stories, or “Who-Dun- Its” is being a creation of the Christian west. The history of the Murder Mystery Novel is that of solving a moral dilemma (a deadly crime) – and the guilty party, no matter how smart, is caught and punished.

The classic murder mystery novels of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers had a definite Christian world view. They firmly dealt in “right and wrong” and “good vs. evil.” These classic books were often set in an English country parish, or a city cathedral. They often had a pastor, parson, and/or deacon as a main character. In addition to her murder mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers left letters reflecting her Christian worldview.

G. K. Chesterton, the noted English theologian, wrote the Father Brown mystery stories. One critic I’m aware of has pointed out that Chesterton’s Father Brown solves murders because he is a Christian. He was compelled by his Christian morality to hunt down the bad guys.

English mystery author P. D. James also presents the Christian world view of good vs evil in her novels. But her detectives present a darker view of the soul than Chesterton’s more cheerful Father Brown. Today, Anne Perry (a modern writer who’s mysteries are set in Victorian England) could be thought to carry the standard of Father Brown. Many of her characters search for the murderer simply because they have a Christian world view and must right a wrong. They’re Christian sense of morality drives them as sleuths.

A few mystery authors of note who have presented a Christian world view are: Isabelle Holland, with her sleuths, Rev. Claire Aldington and Sister Carol Anne O’Marie; Monica Quill who created the amateur sleuth, Sister Mary Teresa Dempsey; Charles Merrill Smith who created the “Rev. Randolph” mystery series with C. P. Randloph, and his ecclesiastical superior Bishop Freddie. There are many, many more of this type of classically written murder mystery with a Christian sleuth and a Christian world view. And of course, there is the murder mystery set in a medieval monastery, The Name of the Rose with Brother Adso of Melk.