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The Complete Father Brown

The Complete Father Brown
by G.K. Chesterton
Originally published as The Father Brown Stories by Cassell, 1929
Amazon.co.uk: paperback
Amazon.ca: paperback
Amazon.com: paperback
Highly Recommended by: Greg Slade
[The Complete Father Brown]

Book Rating
Rated 3 (Highly Recommended) by: 1 person
Rated 2 (Recommended) by: nobody
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Total Votes: 1 person
Average Rating: 3.00 (Highly Recommended)
Score: 0.30 (Reviewed)

There are some characters or stories whom everybody knows. Even those who have not actually read the works have at least heard of Sherlock Holmes, or War of the Worlds, or The Lord of the Rings. There is one fictional "detective" who may not be quite as well known as Holmes (although he comes close), but has certainly delighted generations of readers. In a sense, Father Brown is the antithesis of Holmes. While we are made aware, at every turn, of Holmes' brilliance, of Brown we are told:

He had a face round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling; he had eyes as empty as the North Sea; he had several brown-paper parcels which he was quite incapable of collecting. (p. 10)

Yet despite his harmless appearance, Brown correctly fingers the criminal in every case. (This appeals to my love of people or things which are much more capable than they appear.) But another thing which appeals to me about Father Brown is that his religious faith, which seems to be such a handicap to his opponents, is one of the keys to his success. Time and again, a sceptical criminal underestimates him, and tries to trip him up with mystical mumbo-jumbo, on the assumption that anyone dumb enough to believe in God will fall for any old line. But it is precisely because he believes in God that Brown will not fall for "any old line." A sceptic may, on a dark and stormy night, in a creaking old house, have a hard time maintaining unbelief in vampires and goblins. For a Christian, such creatures cannot exist. (In fact, a survey taken a few years ago showed – much to the surprise of the surveyors – that Christians are much less likely to believe in assorted "paranormal phenomena" than are self-avowed atheists.)

So perhaps you can understand the pleasure I take in reading the Father Brown stories: Brown is successful, not in spite of his faith, but because of it. The Complete Father Brown collects all of the Father Brown stories in one (large-ish) volume. The only problem now is remembering to stop reading before the sun comes up.

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