The Innocence of Fr Brown

by G. K. Chesterton (Penguin Books, €10.00/£6.99)

This collection and the four titles in the Fr Brown series have all been reissued this month, in striking retro jackets, to coincide with the return of the BBCTV series. The series is rubbish, I am afraid, but the books are still essential reading for all admirers of Chesterton and detective story fans. I have heard an admirer of GKC express the opinion that he did not think much of the tales  as detective stories, which just goes to show that some who profess a high regard for the author are very selective about what they like. Fr Brown is a remarkable creation, quintessential Chesterton. 

When asked how he knew so much about the criminal mind, he always replied, “My little flock you know” – that long years of year hearing the confessions of criminals. He could think his way into the murderer’s mind. “You see I had murdered them all myself…I had planned out each of the crimes carefully,” he explained. “I had thought out how exactly how such a thing could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course, I knew who he was.” In addition The Man Who Was Thursday is available as a Penguin Classic.

(Copies of The Irish Catholic reissue of Chesterton’s Christendom in Dublin, about the 1932 Eucharistic Congress, are still available from our office for £10 + pp.)