Book Review: Father Brown And The Ten Commandments

Book Review: Father Brown And The Ten Commandments Book Cover Book Review: Father Brown And The Ten Commandments
Ed. John Peterson
Ignatius Press
Paperback and Electronic

Publisher synopsis:
This unique collection of Father Brown mysteries links tales by G.K. Chesterton with the Ten Commandments. The connection is often surprising, however, for the criminal is not necessarily the worst sinner in the story, nor is his crime necessarily the worst offence.

When Chesterton created the character of Father Brown, he brought a new dimension to mystery stories—the distinction between crime and sin. As the priest-detective applies his powers of observation to solve a case, he picks up clues about other offenses, such as those against the Sabbath or one's parents. Father Brown's main concern is not the laws of the State but the Commandments of God.

As Dorothy Sayers once wrote, G.K. Chesterton was "the first man of our time to introduce the great name of God into a detective story . . . to enlarge the boundaries of the detective story by making it deal with death and real wickedness and real, that is to say, divine judgement."

This edition includes footnotes not available in other versions, which help to clarify the literary and historical allusions made by Father Brown. It is based on the texts of Chesterton's original editions, for assurance of authenticity, and is set in easily readable type.



Father Brown And The Ten Commandments is not a collection of new, or recently discovered adventures of the infamous Father Brown, but rather a re-presentation of eleven of his mysteries. Yes, you did read that correctly.

As the title suggests, the stories are linked by the Ten Commandments and readers will discover, or discover anew for those familiar with Father Brown, the exploration of sin as opposed to crime.

As John Peterson explains in his introduction: “The key to Chesterton’s radical approach is that the criminal is not necessarily the worst sinner in the story, nor is his crime its guiltiest offence.”

And for the detective priest his difference comes in his prejudice to God’s law rather than the legal system constructed by people.

I have long been a fan of Father Brown stories, though not the contemporary television series which didn’t quite live up to expectation, and this collection does not disappoint.

Peterson’s collection and its organisation leave the reader not only enjoying entertaining stories but spur them on to greater reflection on the Commandments, sin, and the ordinary way in which we consider crime as being the weightiest sin.

I thoroughly recommend this book to devotees of G.K. Chesterton but particularly to those who have not yet been introduced to Father Brown.

I can assure you that it is well worth it. You will not be disappointed.




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About the Author: Emily is a former ACPA award winning editor and journalist turned stay at home mum and blogger. She lives on a farm in regional NSW with her husband and their five children where she spends the time she should be doing housework reading books and writing posts.

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