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Four Faultless Felons Paperback – January 1, 1989

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Widely known as the "Prince of Paradox," G. K. Chesterton was one of the most influential English writers and thinkers of the 20th century. Chesterton's prodigious talents embraced a wide range of subjects, from philosophy and religion to detective fiction and fantasy. And while his writings are light and whimsical, they are filled with direct and honest truths.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486258521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486258522
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,481,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Wischmeyer on August 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Any reader familiar with The Man Who Was Thursday, The Club of Queer Trades, or The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond will immediately recognize G. K. Chesterton's unique wit and whimsy in these four tales.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Early in life, G. K. Chesterton wrote "The Club of Queer Trades", a set of short stories in which it always appears that vile crimes are being committed. In the end, there's always an innocuous explanation, namely that the apparent criminal who's actually trying to gain admittance to a bizarre gentleman's club. Maay years later, Chesterton would return to the same idea in "Four Faultless Felons", again speculating about a club whose members must appear to be guilty of terrible deeds, while actually remaining innocent of wrongdoing. "The Club of Queer Trades" was basically a farce, as whispy and devoid of deep meaning as Chesterton could ever get. "Four Faultless Felons" may have fewer belly laughs, but it has far more food for thought.

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.
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Format: Paperback
The title of this book is meant to be paradoxical. This is a series of stories about four men who do seemingly criminal acts - attempted murder, fraud, burglary and treason - yet act in perfect righteousness. The paradoxical nature of the book makes it similar to Chesterton's The Paradoxes of Mr. Pond, though it is not quite as brilliant.

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."
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