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date: 20 September 2020

Innocence of Father Brown, The, 

The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction
Sandra KempSandra Kemp, Charlotte MitchellCharlotte Mitchell, David TrotterDavid Trotter

G. K. Chesterton, 1911, Cassell.The first collection of stories about Father Brown, the priest-detective who solves problems through his under-standing (honed by years in the confessional) of human nature. Father Brown gives the most mundane crime religious significance through his meditations on justice and repentence, just as Chesterton gives the most mundane plots a certain portentousness though his use of atmospheric settings. The first three stories, ‘The Blue Cross’, ‘The Secret Garden’, and ‘The Queer Feet’, are among the best Father Brown tales, and introduce his recurring foil, the master criminal Flambeau. The series as a whole remains entertaining for Chesterton's ability to play tricks of perception, but his mysteries are too clearly plotted in order to suit Father Brown's solutions to be genuine puzzles. The point of the stories, as a number of reviewers acknowledged, lies less in the resolution of mystery than in the exploration of paradox. ‘The centre of each’, wrote Dixon Scott in the ... ...

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