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Title: Innocence of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #1
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
“The Blue Cross”, The Story-Teller, September 1910; first published as “Valentin Follows a Curious Trail”, The Saturday Evening Post, 23 July 1910
“The Secret Garden”, The Story-Teller, October 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Sep 3, 1910
“The Queer Feet”, The Story-Teller, November 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 1, 1910)
“The Flying Stars”, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1911.
“The Invisible Man”, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1911. (Cassell’s Magazine, Feb 1911)
The Honour of Israel Gow (as “The Strange Justice”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 March 1911.
“The Wrong Shape”, The Saturday Evening Post, 10 December 1910.
“The Sins of Prince Saradine”, The Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1911.
The Hammer of God (as “The Bolt from the Blue”, The Saturday Evening Post, 5 November 1910.
“The Eye of Apollo”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 February 1911.
“The Sign of the Broken Sword”, The Saturday Evening Post, 7 January 1911.
“The Three Tools of Death”, The Saturday Evening Post, 24 June 1911.
While this series is categorized as a mystery, it’s not Sherlock or Wimsey or even Wolfe. Father Brown doesn’t go around looking at a thread caught on a bush and extrapolate the life story of the perp and then reveal him to the authorities. No, Father Brown studies the nature of fallen humanity, discovers the culprit and tries to get them to do the right thing, whether repentance or turning themselves in.
Chesterton was a converted Catholic and as such, Father Brown is pretty strong on his catholic doctrine. At the same time, it really didn’t come across as Chesterton trying to preach or convert his readers. He was trying to tell a great story first and for me, it worked.
The main thing that worked best for me though was the short story aspect. Chesterton wrote each story for a magazine back in the day and then had them collected later. I didn’t have to power through a whole novel and I could stop between stories without losing anything. I appreciate that simplicity and lack of tangled complexity that a lot of modern books seem to deliberately aim for.
One interesting aspect that stood out to me was that in several of the stories the villain of the piece took poison rather than face public justice. That happened in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey books too and I wonder if it was a “sensibility of the times” thing? I don’t think of the bad guys of today taking poison but either fighting or flight’ing or of readers caring one way or the other. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if it happens in any more stories.
A good addition to my reading rotation. Since I am also reading several other mystery series, I am going to be switch hitting the Complete Works of Chesterton with the Complete Works of the Sisters’ Bronte. That way I don’t Mystery myself out 🙂