G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown is perhaps the most lovable amateur detective ever created. This short, shabby priest with his cherubic, round face attracts situations that baffle everyone - except Father Brown and his rather naïve wisdom.
The twelve enthralling stories in this book take Father Brown from London to Cornwall, from Italy to France, as he gets involved with bandits, treason, murder, curses, and an American crime-detection machine. And every problem he comes up against he solves with a simplicity of argument that leaves the other characters wondering, "Why didn't I think of that?"
G. K. CHESTERTON (1874-1936) authored thousands of works, including compilations of his voluminous journalism, novels, short stories, essays, biography, history, criticism, Christian apologetics, poetry, and plays. His work is characterized by tremendous zest and energy, a mastery of paradox, a robust humor, and forthright devotion.
Public Domain (P)1992 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
For some reason Frederick Davidson decided to give Father Brown a kind of nasal pompousness which really detracts from what his character is saying. It's not at all in keeping with the tone of the narrative. Shame really because this collection is complete unlike John Graham's (who is a much better narrator for these stories).
I felt as if this book was not from the same pen as others I have read. And much to my sorrow I did not enjoy the reader or the stories. However I will dip into the stories again, but not as a whole book.
"Good Mysteries, Great Stories"
There are those for whom everything G. K. Chesterton said or wrote is worth quoting--especially in an argument. I know because I used to be one of them. Having let my conversion to Catholicism sink in over the course of a dozen years, I've mellowed somewhat but I still enjoy Chesterton immensely. In fact, being able to approach him with less reverence makes his work much more enjoyable.
As mystery stories these are entertaining enough--though many in this collection and others turn on double identities, so much so that after a while the listener starts expecting them. And while I always enjoy Chesterton's prose style, bristling as it does with insights that range from the merely descriptive to the deeply social, religious and psychological, it can sometimes become too noticeable and slide into apparent affectation. Finally, his characters have a bad way of slipping into his prose style whenever they attempt to describe or narrate (see the girl's bit of autobiography in "The Head of Caesar").
Chesterton's irreverent attitude toward everything his age held (and ours holds) in such high reverence--machinery, technology, psychology, science--and his quiet, persistent reminders that the truth never changes, no matter how much we believe we have, are worth the price of admission every time. While the mysteries are intriguing enough, the commentary they provoke are what really matter:
"What we all dread most," said the priest in a low voice, "is a maze with no centre. That is why atheism is only a nightmare."
"But he died penitent—he just died of being penitent. He couldn't bear what he'd done."
For the whole air was dense with the morbidity of blackmail, which is the most morbid of human things, because it is a crime concealing a crime; a black plaster on a blacker wound.
"There's a disadvantage in a stick pointing straight," answered the other. "What is it? Why, the other end of the stick always points the opposite way."
And Frederick Davidson is the perfect reader to deliver stuff like this.
Sherlock Holmes asserted a detective should never reveal his methods. But Father Brown is a detective with no method other than his grounding in ultimate truth that permits him to see things as they actually are. And that's a mystery that can be more satisfying than the best who-done-it.
"Had to read more Father Brown after the first book"
The stories, like the first book, are wonderful and the mysteries are great fun to solve. As always Father Brown is right in the thick of things, however, Flambeau is almost always present in these stories, which adds a whole new dynamic. I liked that it's almost "the adventures of Father Brown and Flambeau."
The performance was perfect! The narrator sounds just as you think Father Brown ought to and can then seamlessly move into a French accent for Flambeau. There isn't a whole lot of changing the voice to match a character, save if they are notated as being from a specific country of origin, which I liked as it seemed to keep the flow of the book better.
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