The British have long had a handle on wonderfully made whodunits like the Midsomer Murders series, Inspector Lewis, Sherlock and of course the grand dame of meddlesome sleuths – Miss Marple. Perhaps they can attribute it, in part, to the beautiful backdrop of an English countryside and lack of gore for their successes.
Nevertheless, the ‘Father Brown’ mystery series is another pleasant caper which may be getting overlooked slightly in the States. In ‘The Ghost in the Machine,’ Father Brown visits the home of Charlotte McGinley who believes her sister Elsbeth (whose been missing for nine years) is dead and haunting the house. She begs him to perform an exorcism to which he strongly objects and refuses to do but offers to bless the home instead.
He changes his mind when a huge crystal chandelier comes crashing down all of a sudden. However, even after the exorcism is completed things in the house still go bump in the night and soon Charlotte McGinley vanishes.
Inspector Valentine hauls in the husband, Victor McGinley, on suspicion of having something to do with the disappearances of his wife and sister-in-law Elsbeth. Rumors swirled for years that he and Elsbeth were having an affair. Not true, of course. Elsbeth and groundskeeper Seth were in love and had planned to run off and get married before she disappeared.
Skeletal remains are found by a well on the McGinley property and presumed to be Elsbeth. The inspector hastily arrests Seth but eventually has to let him go also due to the fly in the proverbial ointment. The body found near the well is that of a man who has no connection to the case at hand.
Meanwhile, Father Brown deduced the McGinley house is not haunted and confronts daughter Selena McGinley for the truth. She confesses to causing the shenanigans in order to scare her parents into moving back to her beloved London. The young lady prefers bright lights and city life.
Father Brown soon finds the missing Charlotte in a secret passage located in the basement. Now they’re both trapped. Charlotte figured out Elsbeth met her fate in the dusty dreadful dungeon. Yes, Elsbeth’s corpse lies only a few feet away next to the family treasure she went looking for. By this time, a curious Selena has joined them and now all through are stuck with no visible way out.
But good fortune in timing comes along when the inspector is up above praying and hears Father Brown clanging a bell against the wall in an effort to grab someone, anyone’s attention and the trio is rescued.
Elsbeth’s finally receives a proper burial and the McGinley family can move back to their beloved London.
The colorful cast of characters include:
Lovable, mild-mannered, crime solving Father Brown who is a Roman Catholic priest.
Inspector Valentine, who is torn between his admiration and exasperations with Father Brown. Inspector Valentine gets replaced by Inspector Sullivan.
Mrs. Bridgette McCarthy, the St. Mary’s parish secretary who looks after Father Brown.
Lady Felicia Montague, a married man-hungry bored socialite.
Sid Carter, occasional petty criminal/chauffeur who Father Brown has taken a shine to.
‘Father Brown’ airs on Saturdays at 8:00 PM on your local PBS station. ETV SC in South Carolina.