|Your faithful correspondent in Barcelona|
Return of the Crime Scene
Which makes for a wonderfully convenient segue into today’s book review, G. K. Chesterton’s The Flying Inn. Like I said last time, I took no mysteries with me, but I took Chesterton’s novel so as not to be bored. I read some of it on long plane rides to Europe and back (for some unfathomable reason, I have never been able to sleep on a moving plane, even if I’m extremely tired), but I ended up having so much fun with my friends that I did not turn a single page of the book while actually in Europe.
But before I proceed, I feel the need to justify my choice to review this book. At the Scene of the Crime is devoted to mysteries, though I make the occasional exceptions. This most certainly qualifies. It was penned by G. K. Chesterton, whose most famous creation is Father Brown. The Father Brown stories I’ve read (like with Carr, I spread them out to savour them more) are a delight, with fair play clueing and imaginatively puzzling paradoxical situations that are always fun. His contribution to the genre is historically important and also holds up well today, which I think justifies making an exception for his work.
The Flying Inn contains some biting satire against Islam and Prohibition, as Chesterton launches into them with glee. There is The Prophet for instance, who proves with absolutely iron-clad logic that England was actually an Islamic country… only his logic is based on half-facts and the like, rather like Schlock Homes’ logic. The characters launch into a multitude of satirical poems that are well-written, witty, and quite funny. They philosophize endlessly on various things, such as in a series of poems that are given the collective title of “An inquiry into the causes geological, historical, agricultural, psychological, psychical, moral, spiritual, and theological of the alleged cases of double, treble, quadruple, and other curvature in the English Road” (“conducted by a specially appointed secreat commission in a hole in a tree by admittedly judicious and academic authorities specially appointed by themselves to report to the Dog Quoodle, having power to add to their number and also to take away the number they first thought of; God save the King”).
Yet, despite my masterful segue to introduce Chesterton into this post, my review doesn’t do the book any justice at all. Chesterton’s worldview and opinions could make for hours of discussion, but I don’t want to get into that. It’s a book that should be read prior to having a discussion about it, because the reader should discover everything for his or her own self— and I urge readers not to delay too long in reading it.