The Complete Father Brown Stories, By G.K.Chesterton
Mysteries unsolved by a sanctified English gumshoe
Not just a re-issue but a tie-in. A prefatory note informs us that it was "published to accompany the television series first broadcast on BBC One Daytime".
If rather tall for the "little Essex priest", Mark Williams imbued the character with a fervent innocence as he did for Ron Weasley's dad in the Harry Potter films. It is a potent role, as a previous incumbent discovered. When a French child mistook Alec Guinness for a real priest while making the 1954 film Father Brown, it initiated the actor's conversion to Catholicism.
Though the sanctified gumshoe has joined the canon of eccentric English 'tecs – Miss Marple, Lord Peter Wimsey, Albert Campion – it is questionable if afternoon viewers will find themselves enthralled by the Father Brown on the page. Chesterton's main interest is in the creation of an elaborate "locked door" mystery, to be unpicked by his protagonist who pops up on the final page. The story entitled "The Unsoluble Problem" is an extreme example. "The murder cannot be solved," said Father Brown, "because there is no murder to solve."
Maigret, an equally intuitive detective, still appeals due to atmosphere and concision but the Father Brown stories are verbose and unevocative. They are elevated by aphorism ("The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic") and his hero's vocation. Such elements are linked in an otherwise plodding story called "The Queer Feet". Father Brown's explanation "I caught him with an unseen hook, and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world, and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread" was quoted by Waugh in Brideshead Revisited.
The best stories, such as "Hammer of God", combine a Cluedo-like yarn with theology. The wholly unpersuasive characters and far-from-assured method of murder may be accepted as conventions of the genre. After creating such an original detective it is unfortunate that Chesterton had little interest in Father Brown aside from being a vehicle for his own faith and ingenuity.
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 3 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 4 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 5 Isis publicly behead man in Syrian town square for 'insulting Allah' as he screams for help
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Phil Tufnell, Heather Mills and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Our fascination with the Arctic from Greek myths to Sky Atlantic's new drama Fortitude
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures