Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

Source: Librivox (Zipped mp3s)
Length: 10 hrs, 23 min
Reader: Brian Roberg

The book: The Father Brown stories, of which this is the first collection, are not always as exciting as a Sherlock Holmes story or as clever as some of the better Agatha Christie tales, but they do have G.K. Chesterton's great humor and intelligence embodied in the series' main detective, a priest by the name of Brown. Father Brown is the opposite of the hardboiled detective. Instead, he is Chesterton's ideal of a priest: clear-headed, non-prejudicial, and above all, forgiving. After catching a criminal, Brown would rather calmly reason with him to change his ways rather than turn him over to the police.

Chesterton wrote a number of non-fiction pieces defending and extolling Catholicism, and his fiction bears the same mark. The Father Brown stories often feature seemingly supernatural occurrences: witchcraft, divine judgment, a ghost, an invisible man. Father Brown reasons his way past surface appearances to a rational solution, implying that his faith in a supernatural God is a rational belief, not mere superstition. Although his stories are wrapped around Catholic teachings, Chesterton never loses sight of writing a good tale. He delivers a satisfying assortment of mysteries with the first Father Brown book and from what I've read of the second, continues in The Wisdom of Father Brown.

Rating: 8/10

The reader: Brian Roberg reads with a measured pace that allows the listener to pick up clues, if they are mentally quick. He has careful pronunciation with a nondescript American accent. Roberg does not act voices for different characters, but he does vary his tone of voice with what is being said. The recording is clear and, as always with Librivox recordings, available in several formats, including two bitrates of mp3 as well as ogg vorbis.

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