Shinn's Reviews > The Innocence of Father Brown

The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton
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Sep 07, 11

bookshelves: 2011, detective, religion, philosophy, britain, mystery
Read from August 28 to 29, 2011

I have no complaints about G.K. Chesteron's ability to construct a good mystery. While the first four stories in this book are a little repetitive when it comes to characters, most of them have nice twists and turns that the reader will enjoy seeing unravelled, even if they are a little improbable at times - with the exception of the second story which is VERY improbable and borders on the ridiculous.

What I had a problem with was the often narrow-minded tone of the book, particularly in The Wrong Shape where Chesterton writes of "eastern heavens, rather worse than most western hells". Sure the culture appropriating writer in the story was a bit of a joke but it's difficult to like even Father Brown when he spews absurdities like "They are letters and symbols in a language I don't know; but I know they stand for evil words" while describing Turkish carpets, of all things. Bigoted much?

And then there's the embarrassing caricature of an Italian aristocrat in The Sins of Prince Saradine. Since the book was written in 1911 and not the 17th century, I can't quite comprehend such absurd stereotypes. Even Flambeau, as important a character as the good priest, is not entirely spared; every attribute of his pinned down to the esoteric state of being French.

I have the complete stories so I will be reading all of them but I sincerely hope there's a smidgen of modern thought in the other books that make up the anthology.
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