The Innocence of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton
I enjoyed this book, even a century after it was written. It is filled with twelve short mysteries involving the Catholic priest, Father Brown. I found every story intriguing. I would have a hard time picking one favorite, but a few of my favorites included the beloved Blue Cross, The Queer Feet, and Three Tools of Death. I really liked Falling Stars, as well. I didn't figure out that one at all and I liked how it ended.
Chesterton converted to Catholicism and wrote many good religious philosophy books including his famous Orthodoxy. Chesterton was also a good friend and encouragement to C. S. Lewis. Both men are known for their spiritual writing and their great fiction books that still carry a layer of their Catholic beliefs, referring to Narnia and the Father Brown mysteries. Chesterton has created Father Brown with opposite features one would expect a fantastic detective to display. (Perhaps like a king that came and turned our ideas of a king and kingdom upside down.) Fr. Brown's appearance deceives many people, leading them to believe he is insignificant. But, he always solves the case, while showing mercy and offering holy advice when needed. The closest comparison I would have for these mysteries is a cross between Agatha Christie's mysteries and Encyclopedia Brown. The reader is always give clues to help them solve the case along with Fr. Brown, but Fr. Brown always fills us in on the imaginative and complex motives, as found in Christie's mysteries.
This may not be a book to read over a few days, but it would be very nice to keep on your night stand to stimulate your brain or to keep in the car for a bit of entertainment while waiting. Once you've finished this book, pick up The Wisdom of Father Brown , The Incredulity of Father Brown, The Secret of Father Brown, and The Scandal of Father Brown.