Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Crime Fiction Alphabet: I is for The Innocence of Father Brown

Continuing the "Alphabet in Crime Fiction," here is my entry for this week's letter, "I."

The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) is the first collection of short mystery fiction starring clerical sleuth Father Brown, the creation of G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936). One of the most prolific English writers of the 20th century, Chesterton's output included theology, journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography -- and, of course, detective fiction. The character of Father Brown is said to have been based on Father John O'Connor (1870-1952), a parish priest involved in Chesterton's conversion to Catholicism.

Relying on his experience as a priest and a confessor, Father Brown solves mysteries intuitively. Yet, he is also a firm believer in finding a rational solution to the mystery at hand. "Reason is always reasonable, even in the last limbo, in the lost borderland of things," he says in "The Blue Cross." "I know that people charge the Church with lowering reason, but it is just the other way. Alone on earth, the Church makes reason really supreme. Alone on earth, the Church affirms that God himself is bound by reason."

The Innocence of Father Brown includes some of the amateur detective's most notable cases, including the impossible crime tale "The Garden," the bizarre puzzle of "The Honour of Israel Gow," and the Christmas mystery "The Flying Stars." You can download The Innocence of Father Brown free at ManyBooks.net.

You can also read the stories free online at EServer's Fiction Collection. Just click on the titles below ...

01. "The Blue Cross"
02. "The Secret Garden"
03. "The Queer Feet"
04. "The Flying Stars"
05. "The Invisible Man"
06. "The Honour of Israel Gow"
07. "The Wrong Shape"
08. "The Sins of Prince Saradine"
09. "The Hammer of God"
10. "The Eye of Apollo
11. "The Sign of the Broken Sword"
12. "The Three Tools of Death"

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Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction


A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.