G. K. Chesterton: The Hammer of God (Deal Me In 2016 – Week 16)

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I’ve read a handful of G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown mysteries and I can say that “The Hammer of God”, which I read this week when I drew the Queen of Clubs for Week 16 of my Deal Me In 2016 short story project, is my favorite. My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. This story is included in my copy of The Complete Father Brown Stories by G. K. Chesterton.

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I’ve probably said this before but the problem with short story mysteries and, in some cases, mysteries in general is that they either are so simplified that the reader can see the answer a mile away thus taking away the mystery aspect or the answer is pulled out of thin air so that the reader couldn’t have guessed the answer even if they tried.

In reading “The Hammer of God”, I slowly eliminated a few of the suspects and gradually the culprit began to reveal themselves – and it made sense yet was very much a surprise. The mystery involves the fall of the pious amidst the wonderful quotable Chesterton writing. And a gruesome description of the victim’s skull bashed in didn’t hurt. I mean it didn’t hurt the plot of the story; I imagine it may have hurt the victim.

I guess I’ll call SPOILERS here as the following paragraph grabbed my attention before I even knew there was a victim. While it doesn’t reveal the ultimate ending, it does come after the witnessing of an act of cruelty outside of the murder and subtly gives some clues:

This ugly sunlit picture of the stupidity and cruelty of the earth sent the ascetic finally to his prayers for purification and new thoughts. He went up to a pew in the gallery, which brought him under a coloured window which he loved and which always quieted his spirit; a blue window with an angel carrying lillies. There he began to think less about the half-wit, with his livid face and mouth like a fish. He began to think less of his evil brother, pacing like a lean lion in his horrible hunger. He sank deeper and deeper into those cold and sweet colours of silver blossoms and sapphire sky.

 

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