As a writer of Ecclesiastical Thrillers who loves Phil Rickman, P. D. James, kate Charles, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Susan Howatch and others, I would love to hear from others writers and readers of this subgenre.  Who are your favorite writers?  Do you prefer contemporary or historical?  How do you define an ecclesiastical thriller/clerical mystery?

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P.D.James writes ecclesiastical thrillers? I rather thought she wrote fairly conservative and intellectual police procedurals. These have involved vicars, but vicars are rather ubiquitous in England.
Good point. Definitions are a can of worms, aren't they? Especially when it comes to creative works. I was thinking specifically of Death in Holy Orders, my favorite James, which takes place in a theological college and makes several interesting theological points in her subplots. Yes, P. D. James is classic, procedural, psychological, almost cozy. . .
For historicals, I've enjoyed Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series, and Tremayne's Sister Fidelma is ok, too. GK Chesterton's Father Brown is the grandfather of the subgenre, and I like most of the stories although the late stories tend to be didactic. That is often where such fiction begins to falter - if it tries to preach. For contemporaries, McInerny's Father Dowling is smart. Andrew Greeley's Fr. Blackie Ryan is ok. I always liked Kemmelman's Rabbi Small series. My contemporary mystery BLEEDER would qualify in this category (a stigmatic priest bleeds to death on Good Friday) and the sequel I'm working on, VIPER, given its rich backdrop of Aztec myth and Mexican Catholicism. Very generally speaking, I suppose the definition revolves around church settings, clerical characters, and "religious" concerns about justice, mercy, redemption, and other 'higher mysteries' of life (and death- given the genre). This is the sort of subgenre that can really get into the deepest desires and fears of people who are created with inherent worth and dignity but who are also 'fallen.'
Oh, John, absolutely the *best* definition I've ever heard of the subgenre. May I quote you?

Yes, your Bleeder is on my TBR list. I think the device is fantastic!

Ooooh--being didactic-- (holding out fingers in the shape of a cross to ward off vampires) and that, too is subjective because what might sound like good thematic development to one reader will be "preachy" to another. Phil Rickman is one who never crosses the line. He told me in an e-mail exchange that he doesn't use the term Ecclesiastical thriller because sounding Christian can be the kiss of death for sales.

So glad to see your rating of Peters over Tremayne and McInery over Greeley. I need more time to READ!!

I read a great review of Melvyn Starr's The Unquiet Bones yesterday. Has anybody else read it?

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