Book Reviews

The Innocence of Father Brown by G K Chesterton

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List Price: £7.95

 

Paperback: 232 Pages.

Published: 30 July 2008 by Waking Lion Press

ISBN: 1600964052

EAN: 9781600964053

The Innocence of Father Brown is the first book of G.K. Chesterton's ingenious, thoughtful, and lyrically written mystery stories featuring the unassuming little priest who solves crimes by imagining himself inside the mind and soul of criminals, thus understanding their motives. The stories are full of paradox, spiritual insight, and "Chestertonian fantasy," or seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary. In this sterling collection, widely considered the author's best, the beloved detective solves twelve of his most puzzling cases, including The Blue Cross, The Hammer of God, The Eye of Apollo, and nine more.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

A classic - very much of its time

This is a collection of short stories written about a priest who appears inconsequential but is actually capable of solving difficult crimes. It is many, many years since I have read these stories and somehow I had retained the impression that they were very like the Sherlock Holmes stories. They are really not the same despite the surface similarities and now appear much more dated than the exploits of the more famous detective.

Each of these stories has at its core an element of spirituality. The author, through the stories and through his main character, is talking about the eternal battle between good and evil, and the need for, and the possibility of, personal redemption. Arch criminals change their ways, wrongs are righted, and evil prevented. Contempory crime novels which feature religion and spirituality rarely put it at the centre of the story (unless as a reason for crime) or portray it as essential for the wellbeing of mankind in this way. Honour, integrity and reputation are also key elements in a way which is not usual in modern fiction. It makes for an unusual read and may make some modern readers uncomfortable with the themes.

The actual crimes and their solutions do not withstand direct scrutiny. The resolution of the problems posed is often laughable and unbelievable. Many of them depend on an oddity in the environment of the crime or some peculiarity in the character of the victim. Father Brown has a feel for the solution in a way which is not usually upheld in the details provided in the story.

Despite the reservations given above I enjoyed these stories as oddities and the enjoyment was greater when I stopped trying to read them like Sherlock Holmes stories where the evidence solves the crime and it is all very logical. I don't think that they are as easy to read or understand as Conan Doyle's stories and I don't think that they are of the same quality, but they are worth a read.

 
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