First off, I should point out that this book has NOTHING to do with the two Alfred Hitchcock movies of the same name (1934 with Peter Lorre and 1956 with Jimmy Stewart). They just happen to share the same name.
In 1922, G. K. Chesterton took a break from his successful series of “Father Brown” detective stories to write a series of eight connected mysteries featuring a young writer named Harold Marsh and a cynical older detective named Horne Fisher. The connecting feature of each of the stories is that, for each of the crimes committed, placing the blame on the actual criminal would cause more harm than good.
It’s an interesting premise, and an interesting departure from the usual detective trope that Justice must be Served No Matter The Cost. It also begs the question of who is really to blame for the ills of society. And at the end of the fourth episode, Chesterton decides on his target: the Jews.
Seriously. Right out of nowhere, BLAM! – everything is the fault of a conspiracy of money-lenders. His main character, Fisher, goes off on a rant that wouldn’t have been out of place coming out of Mel Gibson’s yawp. I was absolutely gobsmacked. After that, the book was downhill all the way, going from a series of interesting mysteries to an increasingly annoying adventure / redemption fiction that ends with the opening shots of a battle on the shores of England, pitting the honorable “real” English against a foreign invading force in the pay of the money-lenders.
Overall, I can’t recommend it. Still, if you must read it yourself, the book is available for free from Project Gutenberg in a variety of formats, and you can also download it for free from Amazon or from the iTunes book store.
And you know what? I’ve totally lost track of how many pages I’ve done total – the Kindle books have ruined it for me.