The Gambling Adventures of Father Green, by Michael Church

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The Independent Culture

The title echoes G K Chesterton's Father Brown, but these are tales of a punting priest rather than a saintly sleuth.

Father Green has two vocations in life: the first to the Almighty, the second to having a good bet, though there are times in these short stories when you wonder if that order of priorities hasn't been reversed. For a parish priest in London's East End in the Eighties he gets around and is as happy taking advantage of inside knowledge at his local dog track as he is playing poker in Las Vegas, cleaning out fellow seminarians at five-card brag or escorting the Catholic Women's League to Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot.

The author worked for the Racing Post, is the official Derby historian and has written about his own betting exploits, but this is his first foray into fiction. The style is simple, the mood nostalgic, the cast cosy in a Heartbeat sort of way as they provide gently humorous fun.

Amen to that.

Published in hardback by Racing Post, £14.99