G. K. Chesterton: The Innocence of Father Brown (1911)Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography, Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction.
- The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914)
In the last category are a couple of dozen of short stories featuring Father Brown, a short, stumpy Catholic priest. From London to Cornwall, then to Italy and France, he runs to earth bandits, traitors, killers. Why is he so successful?
The reason is that after years spent in the priesthood, Father Brown knows human nature and is not afraid of its dark side. Thus he understands criminal motivation and how to deal with it.
The stories, collected in the two volumes mentioned above, are not straightforward modern-day whodunnits, but have a more psychological and philosophical outlook. This makes them far more interesting.
They are, however, rather dated in some ways. They take place in a world where imperial England is the strongest power, and where the attitude of the white race towards other races is condescending at best.
If you can raise yourself above these issues and reach the heart of the stories without gagging on the inherent chauvinism and racism of the background, Father Brown is well worth the effort.