Sunday, June 5, 2011
Ten Adventures of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
In this collection of ten short stories published between 1911-1927, the ingenious Father Brown uses his brains and insights to solve crimes both large and small. Created by G.K. Chesterton, Father Brown is rather dumpy Catholic priest who has an uncanny ability to peer into the evils of the human heart and walk away unscathed. He uses intuition rather than deduction to discover the culprit behind the crime.
This was a new mystery series for me as I've never read anything by Chesterton before. I must say that I'm really regretting the fact that I'm almost 35 years old and just discovering one of the most fascinating characters to grace mystery pages. I've tended to stray away from mystery series that star religious figures. I don't know that I would ever say it was a bias, but I never got the impression that I would enjoy them. I think it has more to do with the "Father Dowling Mysteries" TV show. I'm not sure what it was, but I could never get into that show. It actually bugged me quite a bit.
Father Brown, even though he is a priest, doesn't really "preach" while he is solving the crimes. His religion never really enters into it, though I think because he's a priest he is able to look at the situation differently. He is a man used to hearing other people's confessions. He has probably heard people confess to things that would make most of our toes curl. He puts himself in the criminals shoes and takes the place of the murderer. He becomes the murderer in his mind and using the insight gained to solve the mystery. It's a refreshing change from the classic detective who uses clues to accomplish the same goal. The other aspect I found fascinating was how Father Brown, who has to believe in the divine workings of God, doesn't allow himself to be distracted by supernatural explanations. He scoffs at the idea and always discovers the more rational, human solution.
As for the stories themselves, they were all previously published in other collections and I must assume that they are a good look at Chesterton's writing style. They are all well thought out, meticulous mysteries that don't drop a lot of clues. Instead you are brought along on a journey with Father Brown as he processes the information. I think some people would classify them as unfair since the solution doesn't follow a set of clues. I don't think that's fair though. There is no solution that doesn't make sense in the context of all the information given. Nothing seems to come out of the blue. It's a great way to tell a story and I must confess, I can't wait to read more of them.
Challenges: M&S, VM