Four Faultless Felons is a collection of four stories by G. K. Chesterton (six if you count the prologue and the epilogue).
Lee Pinion, reporter for the Comet, has come to England to write a tale on the Count De Marilac, legendary epicure, connoisseur of the newest and edgiest plays, and all-round Bohemian. What he finds instead is a story so amazing that he could never tell it, the tale of five men united only by the fact that they have all, for one reason or another, pretended to crimes that they didn't commit.
Contains examples of:
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: The Count's novel method of fasting without making it obvious that he's fasting. Instead of making a scene by asking for stale bread in a fancy restaurant, he instead orders expensive and elaborate dishes that he doesn't like.
- Equivalent Exchange: The central concept of Nadoway's arc in The Ecstatic Thief. He seeks to atone for his father's sins as a Corrupt Corporate Executive of the worst sort in the only way he can conceive: he shall sneak into people's houses and leave behind treasures, stick his hands in pockets and leave money instead of taking it out. He shall give back the money his father took unjustly, and take upon himself the blame and opprobrium his father never received. His father was a thief but wasn't called one, he shall not be a thief and be called one.
- Exact Words: The key to The Loyal Traitor. In the first place, the whole secret of The Conspiracy Of The Word is bound up in the line, repeated throughout the book, "the words are many, but the Word is one". Or rather, the Word is "One". Likewise, John Conrad makes a bargain to deliver up the four leaders in The Conspiracy Of The Word to the Pavonian government, in exchange for the rank of Grand Duke, an income suitable to that rank, and permission to wed the King's daughter (who had already agreed to the proposal). Since the four conspirators were all roles Conrad had been acting (two of them had been real people, but one was dead and the other an invalid in a different country), all he had actually done was agreed to give up his fake revolution in exchange for everything he could conceivably want from a revolution.
- Stab the Scorpion:
- We are introduced to Dr. Judson when he suddenly and for no obviously reason bodyslams his future love interest's father to the ground, and it is not until a couple of pages later that we find out he was shoving him out of the way of an oncoming car.
- The climax of The Moderate Murderer has a variant. John Hume knows that Lord Talboys is about to walk across an impromptu firing range and get himself killed, but he can't get within shouting range in time to stop him. So he shoots Lord Talboys in the ankle, stopping him from crossing the firing range.
- Suckiness Is Painful: One of the Count's main methods of self-mortification. Despite being a cultured and intelligent man, he makes himself sit through all six acts of a Really Modern Incisive Intellectual Drama.