Can I confess something? I dislike Father Brown.
G.K. Chesterton, august Christian apologist, whose prose helped convert C.S. Lewis, created the humble everypriest sleuth. In each story, the curate faces down the sharpest criminal minds in England and wipes the floor with them—with Christian charity, of course.
I have no beef with the writing. In each story’s brief pages, Chesterton sketched derring-do with humor and panache. Each episode also features a genuine puzzler.
But it felt like Chesterton kept his finger on the scale of Christianity’s strengths. Unbelievers were always arrogant and wrong-headed, their objections to morality and God flimsy as soggy bread. Of course the Christians saw the world correctly; of course anyone who disagreed was not simply wrong, but disagreeable.
Other writers of faith have written mysteries—Dorothy Sayers, for instance, or PD James. But their books explore themes of faith without really attempting to argue readers closer to it, at least not as directly as Chesterton.
So I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy Daniel Taylor’s Do We Not Bleed, the second installment in his Jon Mote mystery series. I winced when I read what one endorser called Taylor’s first book: “a metaphysical page-turner.”
I worried I’d encounter some authorial smugness.
But I found compassion instead…
If you, like me, dig murder mysteries, might I point you towards a lovely one? I’m over at the Englewood Review of Books with my review of Daniel Taylor’s Do We Not Bleed. Join me there!