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Four Faultless Felons Paperback – January 1, 1989
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Four Faultless Felons (1930) includes The Moderate Murderer, The Honest Quack, The Ecstatic Thief, and The Loyal Traitor. The individual stories were first published in 1929 and 1930 in London magazines; soon thereafter all four were published together as Four Faultless Felons (1930). Chesterton added a prologue and epilogue to tie these stories together.
Chesterton's protagonists are indeed faultless. Their crimes - murder, fraud, theft, and treason - are motivated by virtue, by altruism, and by good intentions. These humorous fantasies are intended for enjoyment, although Chesterton does not entirely disguise his disapproval of unregulated capitalism and insensitive politicians.
The four stories are essentially mysteries, albeit somewhat playful ones. A crime is committed and evidence points to the culprit. The problem is not so much in identifying the criminal (although the culprit's identity is not readily revealed), but in determining the motive for the crime. Chesterton's whimsical formula could have become repetitious, but by limiting his tales to only four they remain sufficiently novel and humorous to make this collection quite enjoyable.
Four Faultless Felons had been out-of-print for several decades before Dover reprinted in 1989 the Cassell edition of 1930. Fans of G. K. Chesterton should add Four Faultless Felons to their collection. Four stars.
The first story, "The Moderate Murderer", takes us to the Middle East, where the governor of a generic British colony has been shot in the leg. In the space of fifty pages, Chesterton takes us on a whirlwind mystery tour, as three different suspects are raised and discarded. The final denounment not only wraps up every corner of the mystery perfectly, but also offers a fine philosophical defense from the true shooter. It has been remarked that Chesterton only grows more relevant to our messed-up modern world with each passing year. Despite having died seventy years ago, his pithy sayings and seemingly offhand political opinions always drop exactly onto the hot issues of today. In between the breakneck plot and the large cast of very real characters, "The Moderate Murder" finds room for an editorial on why making the Muslim world accept western values at gunpoint is both unethical and unworkable.Read more ›
Chesterton was a great purveyor of paradox, and his playfulness and wit come through in this volume. Yet there is also a serious point being made. These four faultless felons are being radically counter-cultural. They are turning the world upside down, or at least their little part of it. Indeed, they are shocking in their pursuit of righteousness.
In fact, this book is really a fictional representation of Chestertons's maxim the The Everlasting Man: "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
These stories confound one's expectations--the felons are felons--and faultless. Mysteries where the author put considerable thought and care into the plots.Published 14 months ago by Upuaut
Classic Chesterton fiction. He makes great philosophical points while being entertaining. He has a great sense of humor. He is a master of sensible paradox.Published 22 months ago by LorenH