Plot Holes [With a look the second and third story from The Innocence of Father Brown]

I was going to do some extra write ups on the second and third stories from the Innocence of Father Brown [Edit: I have since I have put these as part of my look at the Father Brown Stories] . The Secret Garden and The Queer Feet respectively. The Secret Garden would feature the detective Valentin and The Queer feet would feature Flambeu both from the first story. However, I have decided not to because I suspect I would be covering familiar ground on both. The main point of concern would be that I would be going over some of the main bugbears of mine, them being plot holes and inconsistencies along with that I would include continuity errors also. I can easily buy into a world regardless of how fantastical or absurd the setting may well be. This is the case for sci-fi and fantasy genres for example. If anything however, makes me question why a character would do a particular thing or makes me go ‘as if’ then that’s when I have problems. There are many examples of such. It is worse when I never notice them myself but somebody else brings them to my attention and then I can’t stop but think about them. In some cases you can explain it away with an unreliable narrator (Agatha Chrsitie and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) where as in others you can’t.

The Father Brown story of The Secret Garden sees the head of police Valentin who we meet in The Blue Cross become the criminal. For an intelligent mind like Valentin, it just seems odd that he would commit a murder on his own property, discard part of the body nearby where it could be easily found. What is even more reckless is inviting Father Brown who you already know is of some remarkable intellect to property at the night of the murder and if anything would be able to figure out what is going on. Valentin’s motivations also seem to be a bit much to justify murder in my opinion.

In The Queer Feet, Flambeau tries to steal some silver from some exclusive elite club of snobs in a hotel and Father Brown stops him. I just found it odd that either of the two would know that the silver cutlery of the club exists in the first place.

These are not the worst examples of plot holes or inconsistencies and the stories themselves are still gripping though they are still noticeable to me. You see it in movies as well of course. In Back to the Future 2, old Biff goes back in time to give the almanac to young Biff by stealing the time machine and then going back to his own time as if nothing has happened. I would have thought that would have caused some paradox. Then again the whole concept of time can cause such plot holes depending on how you look at it.

Other examples in literature would be Dr Watson’s war injuries changing location from one story to another in the Sherlock Holmes tales. In the Speckled Band it appears that exotic snakes from hot climates can survive in the mild English climates. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was notorious for such inconsistencies however, he can be forgiven by the fact that despite everything the stories are really about Sherlock as opposed to the stories themselves (with some notable exceptions of course)

I remember reading the otherwise good Rebus novel by Ian Rankin The Resurrection Men and wondering why Siobhan did not get the police to trace the killer’s IP address instead of getting clues about him over Internet conversations. Another one thought it does not bother me as much is why does Frankenstein create such a large man? Would it not have been safer to start small?

I am only referring to books and media I can think of as I type. I believe the greats like the Harry Potter book for example have a number of plot holes and some of Dan Brown’s books are just plot holes from start to finish. Although I must say despite that, he knows how to make people turn a page and so long as a glaring issue is not in the way then that’s all that matters.


Father Brown and The Blue Cross (From The Innocence of Father Brown) by GK Chesterton

Valentin, the great French investigator, head of the Paris police is on the trail of the great criminal Flambeu who has eluded capture from the police of three countries, a master of disguise his only distinguishing feature is his tall height. Valentin gets a lead that Flambeau may well be on his way to London to a Eucharistic Congress in London.

Here looks see the start of two great minds of the detective and criminal on a duel on who can out think the other. Like Holmes and Moriarty, Bond and Blofeld. This is nothing like that however, that would be too predictable. No, our real hero is a short round unassuming priest of all people. This priest comes across as some what bumbling and does not appear to be anything like the great Valentin. They meet on their way to London on a train and he politely warns the old priest about telling everyone what expensive things he is bringing to the Conference, a blue cross being the main thing.

Without going into too much detail the detective manages to follow a convenient trail that leads him to track down Flambeau who is with the old priest who suspects Flambeau is on the trail of the blue cross. It is later found out that the priest Father Brown was on to Flambeau. Father Brown tests Flambeau to see if he is a criminal or not whilst in disguise and realises for a priest he had a disappointing grasp of ecclesiastical theology so leaves a trail for the police to come and find them and arrest Flambeau.

Father Brown is similar to the Agatha Christie sleuths Poirot and Marple, appears relativity harmless. He is a man not of action but of realising how others think based (going on this story) what has been told to him in confessions. Unlike Sherlock Holmes who relies on deduction and observation, exhausting all possibilities, Father Brown has his suspicions tests them and draws his conclusions based on psychological and spiritual observations. Where as Sherlock is a man of action who knows his martial arts and can get involved in a bit of rough with Holmes and Lestrade among the others from Scotland Yard, Father Brown is more intellectual and spiritual and will try to achieve his objective. His course is that of good and he can confront those who try to justify their actions by reminding them how it is wrong.

There has been many adaptations of the Father Brown Mysteries. The BBC produced one starring Mark Williams of The Fast Show Fame (you ain’t seen me, right). As great and marvellous as he is as the character I do think he’s a bit tall for the character.

I am a big fan GK Chesterton. I find his life as fascinating as his works and I adore his works The Man Who was Thursday and The Napoleon of Notting Hill. I recommend you all to give him a look.

[From The Complete Farther Brown Collection, Kindle Edition]