Friday, April 12, 2013

The Evolution of the Mystery Genre

                                              The Blue Cross
                                                   G. K. Chesterson

The first Father Brown short story was published on June 23, 1910, in the Saturday Evening Post, Philidelphia, and later in London in The Story-Teller magazine of September 1910.

Aristide Valentin, head of the Paris Police, is on the trail of the world's most famous criminal, Flambeau, a master of disguise, and may appear to be anyone, except for the one fact he cannot conceal, he is six feet four inches tall. Valentin encounters a little country Catholic priest, Father Brown. He overhears the priest tell a lady that he is carrying a sterling silver cross, covered in precious blue stones, which Valentin knows to be the famous Blue Cross. The detective cautions the priest on the dangers of advertising the fact that he is carrying an object of great value.

Valentin tries to tail Father Brown, but loses him. The detective comes across an elegant restaurant, with a mysterious dark splash upon one of its walls. He sits down in and orders a cup of coffee. When his drink arrives, he realises that the positions of the table salt and sugar have been switched. He brings this to the attention of the waiter who says it must have been "those two clergymen". Valentin enquires, and finds out that the smaller of the two priests threw his half-empty bowl of soup at the wall before quickly leaving. He comes across a grocer, and brings to his attention atop his display of nuts, a large sign reading oranges, and atop oranges, a sign reading nuts. The grocer tells him a similar story of two priests, one small and one large, and how the little one upset the apple cart and ran.Valentin spots a restaurant with the front window having a large star shaped break in it. Upon questioning the waiter, Valentin learns the plate glass window was smashed by a little priest, who was in earlier with a large companion, and paid over three times his proper bill, then smashed the window with his umbrella. Valentin's final clue is in a sweetshop, where the lady at the counter tells him that two priests were there not a half hour before. Though they left, the smaller of the two soon returned, saying he had misplaced a package, and that if it were found to send it on to an address in Westminster. The shopkeeper did indeed find the package once the priest had left.d. The shopkeeper then saysthe two priests headed for Hampstead Heath.

At the park, he comes across the two priests. The larger priest reveals his true identity as Flambeau, and demands the package from Father Brown. When Father Brown refuses, Flambeau triumphantly reveals that he has already obtained the cross and slipped the priest a dummy package. Father Brown replies that he has switched the packages back at the candy shop and mailed the cross safely to a friend at Westminster. He explains how he suspected his companion was no priest because he recognized the bulge up his sleeve as the spiked bracelet, a criminal insignia. This suspicion was confirmed when Father Brown tested Flambeau and found that his companion did not want to draw attention to himself in the restaurant (this being tested by swapping the positions of the sugar and table salt, the thief drinking his salty coffee without a word; and modifying the bill so that it shows a value three times higher, the thief merely paying it without complaint). Valentin to follow. On this note, the bobbies and Valentin emerge from their hiding place and arrest Flambeau.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton, (May 29, 1874 – June 14, 1936)

G. K. Chesterton, was an English writer. He wrote on philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction.

Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics, and even some of those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify this position more and more with Catholicism, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism from High Church Anglicanism.