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Why I love detective stories...

Sometimes my brain needs a rest from reading theology and Dostoyevsky and I gladly turn to detective fiction to relax and to give my overheated mind a different kind of challenge. I shun gore and stories of bad things happening to children. And I suppose my preferred choices would be procedural puzzles where the good wins, the bad is punished and justice triumphs.

Actually such detective fiction couldn’t happen without the Christian gospel. Tolkien talked about “eucatastrophes” where things come right after appearing to have gone terribly wrong. That’s the gospel isn’t it?

From an early age my imagination was fired by Robin Hood and I suppose the detective stories I read are inheritors of his mantle - champions of mercy and justice and rescuers of the needy.

I prefer my tales to be morally unambivalent. I think we should see how catastrophic murder is, how awful the spilling of blood is, how terrible the effects of crime are. And seeing good triumph brings its own satisfaction.

I have my favourites of course - but some have become so over familiar in the public consciousness that I can’t read them much now - Sherlock Holmes is in that category. And generally the books are better than the TV adaptations.

Stories are where we all live our lives. And God the Author of life and light and love is writing his truth, beauty and goodness in them. And seeing his grace at work in our lives makes detectives of us all.

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