by G.K. Chesterton
2017 / 249 pages
An heiress of a large fortune has fallen to her death, and suicide seems the obvious explanation. But then along comes a short man in clerical dress with an explanation that shocks everyone. This short man is Father Brown, Roman Catholic priest, who doubles as an amateur detective. Brown often finds success in his investigations because of his perceptive understanding of human nature. Brown also uses his unimposing character and position to gain valuable information from witnesses who see him as only a priest. This information, often overlooked by even the reader, helps Father Brown bring the criminal to justice.
Brown was a creation of G.K. Chesterton, who was Catholic himself, but whose apologetic writings are much appreciated by Protestants too. His Father Brown character has been featured in over 50 short stories. This collection of mysteries is focused around the Ten Commandments, taking on the commandments one by one.
I enjoyed all of them – each story is just 20-30 pages long, which is great if you don’t want to commit to reading a novel. And Chesterton still manages to build enough suspense to leave the reader shocked by the criminal and their motive.
Two cautions: first, G.K. Chesterton wrote over one hundred years ago so his vocabulary may be less accessible to younger readers. Some of Chesterton’s characters use racial slurs (Agar Rock in The Scandal of Father Brown) and there are a couple uses of “salty” language.
I have never been a huge fan of mystery novels but found myself thoroughly enjoying each story. I look forward to picking up another collection of Father Brown mysteries.