February 17, 2021

How Much Violence Is Too Much for Christian Suspense!

Mary Alford 

I’m a huge fan of the Christian suspense genre and there are so many amazing authors in this genre. Besides being a reader, I am also a suspense author who loves to create tales of danger to keep readers turning the pages.

Whether it be straight suspense, romantic suspense, or even Amish, the life and death struggles facing the protagonists is part of what keeps the reader engaged. The element of faith running through the story assures us God is right there with the hero and heroine through every dangerous scenario they face, and He will carry them through to the end even when the situation seems all but impossible.

In this fallen world in which we live, having the assurance God guides us through every dark moment of our lives is something I cling to daily.

As a reader, I prefer my suspense to be engaging and as close to real life as possible, which involves flawed characters who struggle with their ability to overcome. It’s those doubts, and the suspense fueling them, that makes the story come to life for me.

The Bible is filled with stories of imperfect individuals who are put into terrifying circumstances. All used to further God’s plan. We can’t gloss over the bad, create characters who are perfect and have it all figured out, and expect readers to be engaged in our stories.

Like many characters in the Bible, sometimes God chooses to lead us through the valley of the shadow of death on a frightening journey only He knows.

Still, good people get caught up in devastating circumstances, which do not always work out the way they want it to. The hero doesn’t always come out on top. Bad guys get away with things (at least for the moment), and justice sometimes comes at a price.

Real life contains bad situations and bad people. We hear about it on the news every day. Our damaged world continues to grow more so with each passing day.

As an author, I write stories about these flawed people. In my upcoming April Love Inspired Suspense, Shielding the Amish Witness, the heroine is fleeing from the man she believes killed her husband. The man who was once her brother-in-law is responsible for killing her husband. How do you come to terms with such a dreadful betrayal?

In the end, the story works out. The bad guy is captured, and the hero and heroine come together with God’s help.

While violence and scary situations are part of Christian suspense, how much violence is too much for you as a Christian reader?

As suspense authors, we want to give our readers the best story we possibly can—make the characters and the circumstances that brings them together—feel as real as possible.

Yet while in striving to make the story believable, it is possible to take it too far?

I read an article published by It poses the question of what is too violent for Christian readers? It is a Roundtable discussion hosted by Mike Nappa with authors Ted Dekker, Lynette Eason, and Revell publisher Vicki Crumpton. The article is well worth reading. You can click here to view it:

These authors are some of the best in the Christian suspense genre today and they bring up some interesting points.

When asked this question by Mike Nappa, most agreed, staying away from too much graphic details is best, but you must give the reader enough to become engaged in the story, and not too much to be repulsed. It’s hard to have a suspense story without danger which involves violence of some type. Yet gratuitous violence just to use as a shock factor is a turn off for Christian readers. I know I certainly feel this way.

So, what are your thoughts on violence in Christian Suspense? How much is too much for you?

USA Today Bestselling Author, Mary Alford loves giving her readers the un-expected, whether it be in a rugged mountain setting or a simple Amish community having the reader finish a book and say, wow, I didn’t see that coming, is a joy.

Mary’s titles have appeared on the USA Today Bestselling List, Publisher’s Weekly Bestselling List, and have finaled in the Daphne Du Maurier award of excellence in mystery, The Beverly, The Maggie, and The Selah Awards.

Mary is published through Annie’s Publishing, Love Inspired Suspense, Forget Me Not Romances, as well as being an Indie Published Author. Mary’s 2022 upcoming book through Revell will feature an Amish suspense theme with a twist.

As a writer, Mary is an avid reader. She loves to cook, can’t face the day with-out coffee, and her three granddaughters are the apple of her eye. She and her husband live in the heart of Texas in the middle of 70 acres with two very spoiled cats and a sweet rescue dog named Cody.

Mary is regularly active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook and Twitter or any social platforms listed at


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  2. Excellent post, Mary! I think when an author leaves violence to the reader's imagination, it's much scarier than putting in every graphic detail.