Book Review: The Innocence of Father Brown

As the days get colder, it’s always a good idea to curl up in a warm building with a good mystery story to transport your mind to a thrilling adventure of clues, criminals, and ingenious conclusions. Of course, there are always the universally famous Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle—which you should read if you haven’t already—but if you want a new twist on the classic detective, how about one who’s a Catholic priest? Allow me to introduce the Father Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton, one of the greatest Catholic thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. Fr. Brown is an unlikely hero; short, humble, and seemingly simple-minded, he consistently finds himself in situations where his ability to see the simple truths that everyone else, including the reader, will overlook. The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of stories published and makes for a good introduction to the main character, his occasional companions, and the style of the stories. Among the strange things that may be seen within these pages, there is a set of valuable fish-shaped silverware stolen and then recovered simply by listening to footsteps; there is use of an elaborate plan involving a Christmas play to steal a set of diamonds, a man in full armor killed with a single small hammer, and a charismatic cult leader with designs on expanding his bank account. These stories are short enough to be read in one sitting each, and captivating enough to fill that sitting with great entertainment. Pick up The Innocence of Father Brown next time you are looking for some entertaining reading material, and while you’re at it, you might want to treat yourself to more of the wit and wisdom of G.K. Chesterton.

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