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[personal profile] kittiwake
He was one of the great humanitarian French freethinkers; and the only thing wrong with them is that they make mercy even colder than justice.

I remember reading some Father Brown stories at least 20 years ago, but possibly as long as 30 years ago. All I remembered was the solution to two of the stories, "The Invisible Man" from this collection, and another story in which people had been seeing monsters at a theatre. I had entirely forgotten about Father Brown's friend Flambeau, and one thing that did seem odd is that in the first few stories where Flambeau is still a criminal, neither he nor Father Brown nor the narrator even hinted that Father Brown and Flambeau had ever met before, or might have recognised each other.

Father Brown is a Miss Marple type of detective, someone that no-one expects to be any help in investigating a murder, but who comes up with insights based on their own life experience. The murders aren't all that involved, some of them are very easy to solve. Father Brown manages to get some religious philosophising into every story, and the identity of some of the murderers make it clear where the author's religious sympathies lie.

What I do like a lot, is the scene-setting. This can often be quite minimal in short stories due to the need to hurry the plot along, but Chesterton's descriptions of people, places, weather and time of day are strongly visual, and give the reader a vivid mental picture of events.

Between the silver ribbon of morning and the green glittering ribbon of sea, the boat touched Harwich and let loose a swarm of folk like flies, among whom the man we must follow was by no means conspicuous—nor wished to be.


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June 2012

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