Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

A Capital Offense is representative of the boom in Christian genre fiction (here, mystery and detective fiction) written specifically for a Christian, often evangelical, audience. Gary E. Parker presents Connie Brandon as a kind of Everywoman whose Christian faith is shattered by the idea that her husband, a devout Christian, is not what he seems to be. After encountering a series of problems ranging from despair to sexual temptation she regains her faith and is at peace with her departed husband and God. Like her husband, who realizes that Christians are often at odds with the prevailing culture but believes that God wants him in the fight against the evils of gambling, Connie relies on her church, scripture, and God to persevere. She frequently turns to her Bible for relevant passages to get her through tough times and believes that raising kids is holy work (she was a stay-at-home mom who pursued a law degree only after her children were in school). The frame-up, however, shakes her faith, and she feels, “like Jesus,” abandoned by God. Tess persuades her to consider her children, and she again realizes that God’s love is perfect. Unfortunately, more disclosures and the futile trip to Las Vegas (depicted as a modern hell) result in another period of despair and anger at her husband and God. Her return to the church, described as “a hurting lamb returning to the sheepfold,” results in her finding the missing book. When she learns that Luke is attracted to her, she distances herself from him and from the law. Her problem can be solved only “from above,” and the solution comes in the form of a “circle of praise and joy” of her congregation, who surround the evildoers in an ending that strains credibility but affirms God’s enduring love.