His nickname was Father Brown after the fictional 1950s priest and amateur detective.

However, it was often said that criminals who crossed police chief Alex Brown's path - including bent coppers - never had a prayer.

In a distinguished career, he was also known as the man who caught Peter Manuel - the notorious serial killer who was one of the last men to hang in Scotland.

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Glasgow Times:

Unusually for someone who reached high rank, the police wasn't Brown's original career choice and he became one almost by accident.

As a promising youth player, he had hopes of being a professional footballer and had also trained as a fitter.

By the age of 27 around the time of the 1926 General Strike, he suddenly found himself out of work.

With few other options, he signed up for the then City of Glasgow Police as a uniformed officer.

Six years later he was admitted into the CID as a Detective Constable and it was then a stroke of luck that gave his career prospects a massive boost.

Glasgow Times:

Brown had been on the trail of a well-known burglar who he had followed to a house in Pollokshields on the Southside of Glasgow As he was on his own the rookie detective needed someone to witness the arrest and he stopped a passerby.

That passerby happened to be his own boss Assistant Chief Constable David Warnock - who would later become the force's, Chief Constable.

Warnock was impressed by Brown who soon found himself promoted to Detective Sergeant.

He quickly rose through the ranks ending up as Detective Superintendent and deputy head of Glasgow CID in 1957.

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Like Father Brown in the GK Chesterton books Brown was methodical in his methods with a keen understanding of how people ticked.

When carrying out search of a house he would not only check every drawer or cupboard but also very item inside for evidence.

One fellow detective said at the time:"If he didn't find what he was looking for in an house he would strip the paper off the walls if necessary."

Brown's favourite advice to young detectives was:"Let the other fellow do the worrying.

"Use the minimum amount of words and maximum amount of action."

Often when standing in a suspect's house he would look at everyone in the room without saying a word unnerving all inside.

Brown was in many ways ahead of his time in the use of psychology as a tool against the criminal.

In 1943 he wore an article for a police magazine titled Psychology in the Investigation of Crime.

He argued that successful investigators are the ones who best understand human nature.

Brown expected the same high standards of colleagues as he did himself. No one was exempt.

In November 1956 he discovered that a group of police officers had stolen cigarettes from a shop in Duke Street, Dennistoun and had then divided the proceeds among themselves. Twelve cartons containing 1600 fags had been taken.

He visited one officer suspect at home shortly before 5am, when he was till in his bed.

The aim was to catch his colleague when he was at his most vulnerable. It worked because the Constable made a full confession.

Five police officers, including an inspector, were later charged with theft with three getting jail terms.

However, Brown's greatest talent was bringing killers to justice.

In March 1957 Elizabeth O'Donnell and her two young children aged three and 20 months had been found murdered in their flat at Inglefield Street, Govanhill on the Southside of Glasgow.

The violence used was horrendous even by the city's standards.

The killer had slit Elizabeth's throat with a knife and then battered the two children with an iron and bottle.

Elizabeth had been due to attend a party earlier that evening but never turned up.

When Brown went there at 4am it was still going strong.

Very quickly he got the name of a possible suspect Malcolm McNaughton who was arrested at his home 100 yards from the scene When the case was called at the High Court in Glasgow McNaughton pled guilty in face of overwhelming evidence.

At the time murder carried the death penalty However the law had recently been amended to create fewer categories where a person could be executed.

It would now only apply where the murder had been for profit, or involved death by shooting, explosion or the death if a police officer.

But not the murder of a woman or her children.

Ironically the killer knew Cornelius O'Donnell, husband and father of the victims, as they had both served time in prison together.

In fact they were such good pals McNaughton had even been invited into O'Donnell's home to meet Elizabeth and the two children The husband who was in jail at the time of the murder was allowed out of prison for the funeral.

McNaughton was unable to offer an explanation for his actions and Brown had also been puzzled by the motiveless murder.

However, he had got his man and justice had been served.

Such was Brown detective skills he was often called in to help out other forces with their murder investigations.

In June 1957, 23-year-old Patrick Honour was found dead in the Borders town of Jedburgh near to the town hall and police station.

He had been stabbed several times after attending a local dance.

Patrick was a law abiding citizen who liked to dress up as a Teddy Boy at the weekends.

From the statements taken at the time Brown quickly identified a suspect local man William Simpson who had grudge against Honour following a dispute over money he believed he was owed.

Honour had challenged Simpson to a fight at the dance hall and when they both went outside he pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

He was later found guilty of culpable homicide and given 12 year behind bars.

Brown was one of two detectives seconded from the City of Glasgow Police in early January 1958 to help investigate a series of eight unsolved murders later attributed to career criminal Peter Manuel.

He set up an office in Bothwell Police station where he had a camp bed installed. It meant Brown could be on call at all times of the day and night.

The pressure on the police to get a result was intense and sometimes Brown had to get by with little more than three hours of sleep at a time Manuel was the main suspect and Brown's task was to gather the evidence necessary to charge him.

The latest murder had involved three members of the Smart family who had all been shot dead during a New Year's Day break-in to their home in Uddingston Brown was told that Manuel had been spending money freely in a hotel bar in nearby Mossend and that some of the notes he had used matched new ones that had been taken from the Smart's home The Smart family had been killed using a Beretta and Brown also discovered through his informants that Manuel had bought one recently.

By now Manuel had been put on round-the-clock surveillance and he was beginning to feel the heat.

Brown decided it was time to strike and had Manuel and his father arrested at the family home in Bikenshaw, Lanarkshire.

He then told Manuel that they had found items stolen in a recent theft from a ministers house and had charged his father It was then that Manuel, concerned at his fathers predicament, decided to confess to the eight murders on condition his father was released.

He even revealed where he had buried one of his missing victims and the location of the guns he had dumped.

Manuel stood trial at the High Court in Glasgow in May that year and was found guilty of seven of the eight.

He was late hanged at Barlinnie Prison.

In an unusual move, the trial judge Lord Cameron had invited Brown and two other detectives into his chambers at the end of proceedings to thank them for their efforts in bringing Manuel to justice.

The case was only one of many where Brown's quiet persistence had brought a killer to justice.

The following year - 1959 - Brown was given the Queens Police Medal before retiring.

In 1963 he died at his home in Shettleston, Glasgow from a heart attack and his funeral at Daldowie Crematorium was packed.

Though many tributes were paid at the time one comment attributed to Manuel best summed him up.

Referring to the various police officers involved in his investigation, he said: "I could handle the others but I couldn't handle Brown."