G.K. Chesterton 1910 – Father Brown Mysteries Book 1
I suspect that most new readers of Father Brown’s exploits first met the good father on television. I’m sure they were surprised to see that Father Brown does not live in a little village (at least in the first part of the this particular collection), and that the last story was published several years before WWII. The television series takes place just after WWII.
Disclaimer: I am no Chesterton scholar. I’ve only read the first three stories in this collection. I am largely ignorant in the ways of Father Brown and his nemesis, the hapless Flambeau. These are my uneducated impressions so far, since I doubt I will be reading the rest of the book in a reasonable amount of time. I’ll keep it on my Kindle though, and if I do finish it I will update this review.
It appears that in each story (except one, which ends quite unconventionally) Flambeau tries to steal something of value or to commit a similar crime through use of clever disguise and behavior, and Father Brown catches him every time – sometimes by sheer luck. This luck – which Chesterton calls miracle – is addressed directly in “The Blue Cross.”
Once I became aware that this theme was likely to play out throughout the rest of the stories in the book, I wasn’t so interested in reading the rest of it. This isn’t to say that I don’t like the collection; these stories may have been published first individually in magazines. Chesterton uses some beautiful prose. In “The Blue Cross” the first story in the collection, he describes nightfall: “The glory of heaven deepened and darkened around the sublime vulgarity of man. . . .”
In summary – the stories seem to become a bit repetitive, but if you take your time you will find some original and unconventional prose. Taken in small doses, this is worth the read.