Q: Was "Father Dowling Mysteries" based on anything? Are there books?

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Adam Thomlison / TV Media

There are books, and then there are other books. This could lead you down a deep literary rabbit hole.

"Father Dowling Mysteries," the feather-light mystery series starring Tom Bosley (of "Happy Days" fame) as a priest with a sideline in sleuthing, was based on a series of Father Dowling novels by American author Ralph McInerny.

However, mystery heads will note the character's similarities with another popular clergyman-turned-crime fighter, Father Brown.

In McInerny's obituary (he died in 2010), Britain's Telegraph newspaper wrote that he "fashioned Dowling as a spiritual heir to G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown, compassionate but not entirely worldly."

So, if you loved "Father Dowling Mysteries," which aired for three seasons, first on NBC and then on ABC, from 1989 to 1991, and you were hoping to get more, you have plenty of reading to do.

McInerny wrote 29 Father Dowling novels, from his introduction in "Her Death of Cold" in 1977 to the final novel, "Stained Glass," in 2009.

But, if you finish those in a hurry (they promise to be breezy reads), then you have the 53 Father Brown short stories written by G.K. Chesterton.

You also, of course, have the TV series "Father Brown" to plow through — eight seasons in and going strong on the BBC in the U.K., and over here on PBS and online.

(Then there are some who suggest that Father Brown was a conscious attempt by Chesterton, a big Sir Arthur Conan Doyle fan, to create a Catholic Sherlock Holmes, and so further down the hole you go!)


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