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Father Brown is the Sherlock Holmes of the Catholic Church and first came to the page in 1911.  The holy sleuth only ever appeared in short stories which were complied into a number of books;

The Innocence of Father Brown

The Wisdom of Father Brown

The Incredulity of Father Brown

The Secret of Father Brown

The Scandal of Father Brown

Father Brown tends to be in the wrong place at the right time and thus sees things that help him solve the crimes but he himself describes that he puts himself in the mind of the criminal thus being able to solve the crime.  He is often referred to as the empathetic detective.  The stories tend to end with Father Brown leading the murderer off and taking confession from them then encouraging them to admit to the crime.

Father Brown is short and unremarkable looking though he always carries an umbrella, he’s hardly a chap that a murdered would fear.  But the confessional booth has allowed Father Brown to listen to every type of person confess their worst acts and perhaps explain them thus allowing this man to understand people all the better.

This is a great article about the best stories to seek out…Father Brown Article

Over the years Father Brown has been incarnated onto the screen, currently being played by Mr Weasley actor Mark Brown on a BBC series but previously played by the great Sir Alec Guinness.  I came to Father Brown through the BBC series which is set in 1950’s rural England.  It’s a great series with perfectly silly characters and I absolutely adore it for putting on and letting it wash over you!

Father Brown’s author, G K Chesterton, wrote many other books outside of the mystery / crime genre.  He is credited with reigniting the national interest in Charles Dickens through his 1906 book on the man and his 1933 book on Saint Thomas Aquinas highly praised.  Chesterton was the first president of The Detection Club in 1930, a rather awesome group which had members such as Agatha Christie and who swore an oath to write proper detective fiction!  Their initiation ceremony reads like a coven initiation!

Penguin have a complete stories of Father Brown book out and they really are short stories!  Penguin Books