When I saw this book on the shelf at BAM it was the most exciting thing I'd found there all day. I even broke a self-imposed book buying ban to get it. (I figured, hey, it's less than $5, why not?) Oh boy was I wrong.
On principal, a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown is possibly the most exciting thing I've found since I discovered Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula by Loren D. Estleman in the 12th grade. This book didn't live up to its lofty promise.
First of all, Father Brown wasn't really in it. He acts as translator to an Italian cardinal and doesn't make more than six appearances in 258 pages. Secondly, Stephen Kendrick wasn't very nice to him. His descriptions make poor Father Brown sound like he has the Innsmouth look about him.
And this doesn't even touch one of the biggest problems with the book: consistency. Watson is constantly calling Holmes "Sherlock" and then "Holmes" all withing a few paragraphs. For some reason people keep forgetting that Watson is a doctor and calling him "Mr Watson" and forgetting that Father Brown is a priest and calling him "Mr Brown."
And now onto the real problem: the plot. It's all about a conference of faiths that's interrupted by a brutal and unusual murder that Holmes must solve before dawn or risk an international incident. Everything is flat. The characters are flat, the murder is flat, the motives are flat. It starts with a completely unrelated case that doesn't really tie into the main plot of the book.
Then the timeline started bouncing. First Holmes and Watson are enjoying Christmas day at their shared flat in Baker Street, then it's Christmas Eve and they're in Oxford at a Christmas party hosted by one of Holmes' professors, and then it's Christmas day again. It continues to bounce around until about halfway through the book when it inexplicably stops. If the author had continued to use the twisting timeline throughout the whole book it would have at least been justifiable, but stopping it halfway through just made it confusing.
PLOT - 3/5
PROSE - 3/5
CHARACTERS - 2/5
OVERALL - 2.5/5