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The Innocence of Father Brown (illustrated, annotated, complete navigation)

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The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Catholic priest Father Brown’s as a detective. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. This Kindle edition is the only that includes 65 explanatory endnotes, which ex The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Catholic priest Father Brown’s as a detective. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. This Kindle edition is the only that includes 65 explanatory endnotes, which explain now forgotten historical and literary references, names, and places. These notes combined with 35 illustrations make the reader feel like chasing criminals along the London streets together with the legendary detective. First published in 1911 by John Lane Company, New York.


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The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Catholic priest Father Brown’s as a detective. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. This Kindle edition is the only that includes 65 explanatory endnotes, which ex The Innocence of Father Brown is the first collection of mystery stories by G. K. Chesterton starring an unimposing but surprisingly capable Catholic priest Father Brown’s as a detective. Combining captivating stories and insightful commentary, The Innocence of Father Brown is a delightful read. This Kindle edition is the only that includes 65 explanatory endnotes, which explain now forgotten historical and literary references, names, and places. These notes combined with 35 illustrations make the reader feel like chasing criminals along the London streets together with the legendary detective. First published in 1911 by John Lane Company, New York.

30 review for The Innocence of Father Brown (illustrated, annotated, complete navigation)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Originally published in 1911 these ten Father Brown Stories are perfect examples of short stories. They all pose a mystery, a crime or a murder which is solved by Father Brown's deductions and observations in under 20 pages. Unlike the Sherlock Holmes stories, written at around the same time, they rely less on clues and action but more on rational thought and Father Brown's experience of life as observed through the many sins of his flock. Instead of a Watson at his side, he has Flambeau - initi Originally published in 1911 these ten Father Brown Stories are perfect examples of short stories. They all pose a mystery, a crime or a murder which is solved by Father Brown's deductions and observations in under 20 pages. Unlike the Sherlock Holmes stories, written at around the same time, they rely less on clues and action but more on rational thought and Father Brown's experience of life as observed through the many sins of his flock. Instead of a Watson at his side, he has Flambeau - initially a clever master thief, sometimes outwitted by Brown, but later reformed by him to use his clever mind for good, he has grown to become Brown's friend and companion and a clever private investigator. The stories cover a range of scenes - locked room murders, murders made to look like suicides, Indian fakirs, sword fights to the death and jewel thefts from under the owner's nose. Still very readable more than 100 years later!

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    My dad is currently watching the BBC series of Father Brown and after jokingly telling him how terrible the show seemed (which it really didn't at all) I decided to pick up Chesterton's first Father Brown collection to see how the stories compare to the show and because I love to sink my teeth into a good mystery tale occasionally. The Innocence of Father Brown is a collection of interesting and sometimes surprising mystery short stories set in the early twentieth century. The main character is My dad is currently watching the BBC series of Father Brown and after jokingly telling him how terrible the show seemed (which it really didn't at all) I decided to pick up Chesterton's first Father Brown collection to see how the stories compare to the show and because I love to sink my teeth into a good mystery tale occasionally. The Innocence of Father Brown is a collection of interesting and sometimes surprising mystery short stories set in the early twentieth century. The main character is the priest Father Brown who tries his hand as an amateur detective occasionally. He doesn't really care about the true consequences of the law and often tries to figure out these crimes so he can save people in this world before they move on to the next. The only other recurring character is Hercule Flambeau who is a world-famous thief turned private detective and he became a good friend of Father Brown after their paths crossed numerous times. Each of these tales takes about 20 minutes to complete often concluding with a Sherlock Holmes-esque this is what really happened speech by the priest. A good set of stories to dip into and I will check out the next collection asap.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Werner

    Chesterton was a contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and though he created his principal fictional sleuth, Father Brown, after Doyle had written the bulk of the Holmes canon, he can also claim a formative role (though not nearly so important as Doyle's) in the shaping of the genre. Father Brown is the first --but not the last!-- in a tradition of men and women of the cloth who solve traditional mysteries, the lineal ancestor of such figures as Father Dowling and Brother Cadfael, and the firs Chesterton was a contemporary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and though he created his principal fictional sleuth, Father Brown, after Doyle had written the bulk of the Holmes canon, he can also claim a formative role (though not nearly so important as Doyle's) in the shaping of the genre. Father Brown is the first --but not the last!-- in a tradition of men and women of the cloth who solve traditional mysteries, the lineal ancestor of such figures as Father Dowling and Brother Cadfael, and the first series sleuth who's an amateur, rather than a professional, detective. Arising and set in the same late Victorian/Edwardian British milieu, the two characters, Brown and Holmes, have some similarities. Both are extremely smart, and have a capacity for minute observation and mental analysis of small but significant details that others tend to overlook. Flambeau, the continuing character in most of these stories, who under Brown's benign influence transitions from thief to honest detective, comes to serve as a Watson-like foil (though not narrator) for the priest detective. The latter even occasionally smokes a pipe -and more rarely (like Chesterton himself, though not like Holmes) a cigar. Like the mysteries of the Holmes canon, these stories are demanding intellectual puzzles, requiring a rationality of which the Neoclassicists would have heartily improved; but they're also steeped in the Romantic tradition, with any number of macabre, exotic or even Gothic elements: the spooky gloom of a Scottish castle as the storm wind howls, a swordfight to the death, a sinister Hindu fakir, a beheaded corpse, a religious cult, madness. There are also, however, significant differences. Most importantly, Father Brown relies much more on intuition than Holmes does; in this respect, Chesterton sometimes seems influenced more by Henry James than by Doyle. :-) But Brown's intuition is grounded in his understanding of the dark side of human nature, gleaned as a confessor and a moral theologian, just as his knowledge of criminal techniques comes from years in the confessional in crime-ridden urban slum parishes. His priestly calling is thus not incidental to his sleuthing; and it's often the vehicle for serious observations about philosophical and spiritual truth, which are lacking or much less prominent in the Holmes canon (where both Holmes and Doyle have convictions much less definite than Chesterton's, and Brown's). Both men like the intellectual challenge of solving mysteries; but Brown isn't a hired detective, and his main interest is pastoral --he wants the reformation of the offender, not necessarily punishment, and he never takes his knowledge to the police for that reason. (He does usually encourage the culprits to confess -- with mixed success.) Holmes extends a similar mercy in "The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle," but it's not his normal operating procedure. Where Holmes is assertive, flamboyant, and proud of his abilities (though not vain), Brown is mild-mannered, humble, and self-effacing. Chesterton's prose is something the reader is much more conscious of than Doyle's: fulsome, orotund, rich in metaphor and similie; and his much more vivid and lovingly detailed descriptions of the world around him are those of a writer who takes actual joy in the creation, founded in an appreciation of its Creator. The dozen stories here were all written in 1910-1911; most take place in or near Chesterton's native London. A bare majority (seven) are murder mysteries; two actually turn out to involve no crime at all, and the others are daring thefts or attempted thefts. "The Secret Garden" is a noteworthy example of the first group, in that it involves an early variant on the locked-room mystery: the victim was dispatched in a garden attached to a house (belonging to the Paris chief of police, no less!), with no access save through the house, and the house has only one continuously guarded door --so how did the victim get there? A couple of cases turn on the mental inability of the class-conscious British gentry of that era to notice servants/menials as anything more than part of the furniture --a feature that Agatha Christie no doubt borrowed from Chesterton in her Poirot story "The Yellow Irises." The particular edition I read has extensive annotations by Chesterton scholar Martin Gardner; hence, it's titled The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (first published in 1988 by Oxford Univ. Press). These are a mixed blessing. Some of them provide interesting background matter, explanations of Edwardian terms, and textual variants, etc.; too many others explain the obvious, and some critical comments miss the boat. I don't agree with Gardner's negative view of "The Wrong Shape" or the reason for it; and while I agree that the reference to "one fat Chinese sneer" in "The Three Tools of Death" is racially insensitive and deplorable, I don't find a similar problem with any other language here. (The successful Jewish hotel owner in "The Queer Feet" isn't portrayed negatively because he's successful; if Chesterton had never mentioned that a character was Jewish, we'd no doubt hear complaints that Jews are "invisible" in his work! And the bracketing of Jews with country squires, in a passing reference in "The Flying Stars" to groups that can be seen as distinct, is no more disparaging to Jews than to country squires --a group Chesterton, given his social thought, probably more admired than the reverse.) For readers interested in Chesterton scholarship, the value of this edition is enhanced by such features as a printing history of the stories here, and an over 20-page comprehensive bibliography of critical works on Chesterton in general and the Father Brown canon in particular.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    Chesterton is perhaps best known for his Father Brown stories, so I was deeply disappointed to find that they represent him at his preachy, intolerant worst. If I’d started here, instead of with the wonderfully weird and delightfully dark The Man Who Was Thursday and The Napoleon of Notting Hill, I would have had no desire to pick up anything by Chesterton again. All of these stories seem to revolve around the irritatingly smug Father Brown proving that some type of non-Christian is wrong wrong Chesterton is perhaps best known for his Father Brown stories, so I was deeply disappointed to find that they represent him at his preachy, intolerant worst. If I’d started here, instead of with the wonderfully weird and delightfully dark The Man Who Was Thursday and The Napoleon of Notting Hill, I would have had no desire to pick up anything by Chesterton again. All of these stories seem to revolve around the irritatingly smug Father Brown proving that some type of non-Christian is wrong wrong WRONG about everything, the poor, deluded, and occasionally murderous souls. Aside from being pious, preachy, and at times outright racist, these tales also just aren’t very good from the detective story standpoint, either. The Sherlock Holmes stories continue to be fascinating because Holmes is, because his relationship with Watson is, because the way he interacts with the world is. Father Brown’s character has less color than his name, and although Chesterton makes the occasional attempt at providing him with a sidekick, he’s never truly given anyone to confide in or bounce off of, as Holmes has in Watson. Father Brown is lost without his Boswell. And he can stay there, as far as I’m concerned.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Justus

    Reading this reminded me all over again why I hate the Agatha Christie style of whodunnit where people commit bizarrely complicated murders for equally bizarre reasons. Let's take the second story in the collection. M. Valentin is the Chief of Police and also an atheist. He hears a rumor that an American millionaire is going to donate his fortune to the Church of France. Since he is a rabid atheist he sets out to murder the man before he can amend his will. Let's pass over that central absurdity Reading this reminded me all over again why I hate the Agatha Christie style of whodunnit where people commit bizarrely complicated murders for equally bizarre reasons. Let's take the second story in the collection. M. Valentin is the Chief of Police and also an atheist. He hears a rumor that an American millionaire is going to donate his fortune to the Church of France. Since he is a rabid atheist he sets out to murder the man before he can amend his will. Let's pass over that central absurdity and focus on the method of murder. Valentin's plan is to 1. Host a dinner party of a dozen people and invite the American to it. 2. Steal the head of recently executed criminal and take it home. 3. Murder the American by decapitation. 4. Switch heads even though his deputy was at the execution and the dinner party. 5. ??? 6. Get away with it. The stories also filled with the usual kind of "the garden had unscalable walls so no one could have got in!" (Ladders apparently hadn't been invented.)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Manny

    If you haven't come across the Father Brown stories (I'm surprised how few reviews there are), then they are worth reading. G.K. Chesterton is much more entertaining than your average Christian apologist, and if only the basic assumption of these books actually were true then I would feel a lot more sympathetic towards the Christian Church. Chesterton doesn't just want to convince you that Christianity is different from superstition; in his universe, it's the opposite of superstition! The idea in If you haven't come across the Father Brown stories (I'm surprised how few reviews there are), then they are worth reading. G.K. Chesterton is much more entertaining than your average Christian apologist, and if only the basic assumption of these books actually were true then I would feel a lot more sympathetic towards the Christian Church. Chesterton doesn't just want to convince you that Christianity is different from superstition; in his universe, it's the opposite of superstition! The idea in each story is always the same. Something happens (most often, a murder), and there is some plausible-looking account which appeals to people's love of the supernatural or the inexplicable. "Ah yes!" everyone is saying. "Sometimes things are beyond our understanding, but you know... you just know!" Then dumpy, prosaic Father Brown comes in, and finds a common-sense way of looking at the facts which explains everything without any supernatural drama. To give you a taste, the one I remember best is "The Oracle of the Dog". The rich old guy has been mysteriously stabbed. No one can figure out how it could have happened; there appears to be neither weapon nor opportunity. But there is this strange thing with the dog. Just about at the moment when his master would have died, the dog was playing down on the beach, running after sticks that one of the guests was throwing for him, and then he lets out this weird, unearthly howl. Supernatural explanation! The uncanny bond between dog and master! Chesterton sets up the red herring with great skill, and I certainly fell for it. But Father Brown is a clearer thinker, and knows what really tends to freak dogs out. In fact, the guy on the beach is disposing of the murder weapon, a sword-stick. The dog howls because he can't retrieve it; he's never seen a stick get thrown at the water and just sink! It's amazing how often Chesterton manages to get you, even once you know what the twist is going to be and you're looking out for it. He was a smart guy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Oh, Gilbert Keith, I adore you and you are wonderful. I read this collection of short stories in between deadlines, a story or two at a time first thing in the morning to help myself wake up. As far as I am concerned, a Father Brown short story is a perfect amuse bouche for the mental faculties. I guessed almost all of the answers before the big reveals, and many of them were ludicrously far-fetched, but that doesn't matter. That wasn't why I was reading it. Father Brown is a fantastic main charac Oh, Gilbert Keith, I adore you and you are wonderful. I read this collection of short stories in between deadlines, a story or two at a time first thing in the morning to help myself wake up. As far as I am concerned, a Father Brown short story is a perfect amuse bouche for the mental faculties. I guessed almost all of the answers before the big reveals, and many of them were ludicrously far-fetched, but that doesn't matter. That wasn't why I was reading it. Father Brown is a fantastic main character, who occasionally comes out with absolute gems. He's religious, and clearly a vehicle for Chesterton's religious views. Fortunately, he's also marvellous: "How in blazes do you know all these horrors?" cried Flambeau. The shadow of a smile crossed the round, simple face of his clerical opponent. "Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose," he said. "Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men's real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil? But, as a matter of fact, another part of my trade, too, made me sure you weren't a priest." "What?" asked the thief, almost gaping. "You attacked reason," said Father Brown. "It's bad theology." Father Brown, as many people have pointed out, is an excellent counterpoint to my other favourite detectives, Poirot and Holmes, who deal in deduction and Cold Hard Facts. These are stories with a heart and a lot of strong morality. They don't preach, but the morality is just the foundation of the whole premise, and I found that very interesting, especially in contrast with the Fact!fetishising of other classic detectives. Plus, the turn of phrase, oh my goodness: Flambeau had stocked [his boat] with such things as his special philosophy considered necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die. These stories are utterly, unashamedly absurd, not too taxing and fantastic fun to follow. There is duelling and pantomime and messing about in boats and jewel theft. I need them in my life. Gilbert Keith, I adore you, don't ever change.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    I had watched and loved the 2013 BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories. Since then, I have wanted to read these books. In the first book of the collection, The Innocence of Father Brown, we are introduced to the dumpy, bigoted, narrow-minded, but ultimately smart priest, who goes around solving mysteries that flummoxes everyone else. We are also introduced to the master thief, Flambeau, who is a reformed criminal, and now helps the good Father in his crime solving. I loved these stories. The I had watched and loved the 2013 BBC adaptation of the Father Brown stories. Since then, I have wanted to read these books. In the first book of the collection, The Innocence of Father Brown, we are introduced to the dumpy, bigoted, narrow-minded, but ultimately smart priest, who goes around solving mysteries that flummoxes everyone else. We are also introduced to the master thief, Flambeau, who is a reformed criminal, and now helps the good Father in his crime solving. I loved these stories. They are wild, improbable, and what I call completely cosy. There is no romance whatsoever (thank goodness!) and the setting is as quaint as any Agatha Christie book. So yes, I did like the book. But the bigotry in the book was horrendous. At some points, it almost appears as if the author has written the book in order to promote Catholicism and not just to entertain. There is a lot of stupid spouting of Catholic "reason" and the wildness and badness of other religions. Yeah, whatever. Hahaha! Atheists are roundly abused as being impractical and fanatic. Hahaha! And good gosh, that malevolent Hindu man, how dare he sully your pure British homes? *eyeroll* Yeah, and thanks for writing out women completely. There are hardly any women of note in these books. The only one of any importance stands out in The Sins of Prince Saradine. So thanks for the lovely setting and stuff, but no thanks. You only get three stars from me. I'd rather just watch the show again, which has attempted to modernise these attitudes, which have become more than outdated. They are offensive. Read at your own risk.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tristram

    “The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic […]” Is there something like an artistic crime? And if there is, might some of the stories included in G.K. Chesterton’s collection The Innocence of Father Brown not be counted as very examples of such artistic crimes? Crimes in the line of imposture and sleight of hand, to be more precise. What would you think of (view spoiler)[an atheist, who is so convinced by atheism that he concocts and executes an utterly complicated plan in “The criminal is the creative artist; the detective only the critic […]” Is there something like an artistic crime? And if there is, might some of the stories included in G.K. Chesterton’s collection The Innocence of Father Brown not be counted as very examples of such artistic crimes? Crimes in the line of imposture and sleight of hand, to be more precise. What would you think of (view spoiler)[an atheist, who is so convinced by atheism that he concocts and executes an utterly complicated plan in order to kill an eccentric millionaire with a view to preventing him from donating his money to the Catholic church? Yes, this is his only motive! Or of an officer trying to hush up a crime by causing a doomed attack, in the spirit of the Light Brigade, and a Catholic priest unravelling this devilish manoeuvre just by weaving a theory of his own, without any really substantial clues to go by? Or of a clergyman who throws a tiny hammer at another person’s skull, from the top of a church steeple, and actually hitting him, like a professional marksman? (hide spoiler)] In little doses, stories like these may be entertaining, but they may surely make you stop reading more often than not and ask yourself whether the author is not trying too hard to impress and amaze, and this is how these stories become more like the somersaults of an especially pert and hyperactive neighbour’s child – it’s never your own offspring, for sure – who is attempting to get some adult admiration. I could definitely hear the shrill “Look here! Look here! See what I can do!” in the background of many a Father Brown story. What also makes these stories way inferior to the one and only Sherlock Holmes adventures is the figure of Father Brown and his methods. First of all, the man is an annoyingly smug and self-complacent person, who hardly ever refrains from making snide remarks on Calvinists and atheists in particular, and anybody non-Catholic in general. This is probably a bit Chesterton himself speaking, since the author was born a Unitarian and then later on converted to Catholicism, and now he seems to feel under the obligation of thrusting down everybody’s throat the superiority of this newly-embraced creed [1]. In a way, Chesterton seems like one of those ex-smokers who now lose no opportunity of expatiating on the dangers of their former vice and start coughing meaningfully whenever they see somebody walk by with a cigarette in their mouth on the other side of the street. You can also bet that the murderer will be either a Calvinist, or an atheist, or a Methodist, but a murderous Catholic appears to be a phenomenon beyond the range of the author’s imagination. Saying that, I also found it very unusual for a detective story’s narrative voice to give us exhaustive information on every single character’s answer to the Gretchenfrage. This made me ask myself the question whether a foot fetishist, if he were to write a novel, would also obsessively tell us every character’s shoe size. The other thing I did not like particularly about Brown was that he remains extremely vague as a character. He is not anything like Sherlock Holmes, who always comes over as a real person to me, but more like a completely shadowy Columbo, without this latter inspector’s endearing features. He also does what Holmes was always loath to, namely build the most daring theories on very little evidence so that his conclusions would never ever hold water in court. Then there was a last little thing that annoyed me without end, although it is but a tiny detail: Father Brown is always on the scene of a crime, happening to walk into the place whenever a murder or a robbery is committed. It might work in one or two cases, but how likely is it for a normal person, not somebody who is consulted on a case and has made the detection of crime his business, like Holmes, to witness one crime – let alone 49? If I ever met Father Brown in the street, I would immediately turn tail and run because chances I should get killed with his being around would definitely explode. And yet, there is something good that can be said for the Father Brown stories, and this is so much of an advantage that I might go on reading some other of his stories: Chesterton is surely a master of witty and interesting language. But not really a master of detective stories as I like them. [1] Don’t get me wrong! I myself sometimes toy with the thought of becoming Catholic, but purely from an agnostic’s view, thinking that if I should profess my belief in God, I would also want to have the Mother of God, transsubstantiation and a lot of incense to go with it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Broussard

    I have, at this point, gone through the first nine of this collection of twelve stories, and I am now fully convinced that Chesterton was not only a man of a brilliant mind, but of a very singular mind. His paradox is well known, his way of looking at things in an entirely novel light, his self-deprecation, his humor and wit and sheer genius are all legendary, but these stories are a glimpse into the workings of his mind when he decided to amuse himself with a train of thought, and are fascinati I have, at this point, gone through the first nine of this collection of twelve stories, and I am now fully convinced that Chesterton was not only a man of a brilliant mind, but of a very singular mind. His paradox is well known, his way of looking at things in an entirely novel light, his self-deprecation, his humor and wit and sheer genius are all legendary, but these stories are a glimpse into the workings of his mind when he decided to amuse himself with a train of thought, and are fascinating. They are mysteries, a la Sherlock Holmes, but the protagonist is a small, unremarkable priest with a tremendous knowledge of the depths of human nature and an almost obtuse optimism that, combined with the sacred and private nature of confession, allows him not only to solve the crime but to save the criminal. As character studies, they are astonishing. I once commented of a Cormac McCarthy novel that I had met half of his characters. The same and often more is true of these: not only have I met these characters, these lovable cynics, tunnel-visioned atheists and abstruse agnostics, but I have been and am them more often than I would care to admit. And the crimes? The crimes committed are fantastic, impossible; crimes that defy every imagination's attempts to reconcile them with reality save that singular mind of Chesterton's which can see in reality nothing but the fantastic and impossible, and thusly marries the two with uncanny ease. This has several times caused me to utter ejaculations with a sound, as Wodehouse puts it, of Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin due to the incurably shy simplicity that would reveal itself to none but the lovable Priest.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ron

    Good, but not as good as I hoped/expected. While the Father Brown short stories are in one sense classic detective tales, they focus on the preternatural ability of the diminutive cleric to pull solutions out of (apparently) thin air. Since the reader is not given enough background to even make faulty conjectures, the fun is diminished. The title character is a winning one, though I found myself substituting Alex Guinness' image (who played the good father in an early movie adaptation) for that i Good, but not as good as I hoped/expected. While the Father Brown short stories are in one sense classic detective tales, they focus on the preternatural ability of the diminutive cleric to pull solutions out of (apparently) thin air. Since the reader is not given enough background to even make faulty conjectures, the fun is diminished. The title character is a winning one, though I found myself substituting Alex Guinness' image (who played the good father in an early movie adaptation) for that in the book. Not a cerebral as the Holmes stories, but much better hearted, as you'd expect. Brown is often more interested in saving the perpetrator's soul than bringing him/her to justice. He, after all, serves a higher court.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    The Innocence of Father Brown, published in 1911, brings together the first twelve adventures of this character, a Catholic priest from Essex but at exercise in London, down, always in a cassock, wearing a large umbrella and a disconcerting insight about human wickedness. After this volume, the following: The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927) and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935). Contrary to Sherlock Holmes, the methods of Fa The Innocence of Father Brown, published in 1911, brings together the first twelve adventures of this character, a Catholic priest from Essex but at exercise in London, down, always in a cassock, wearing a large umbrella and a disconcerting insight about human wickedness. After this volume, the following: The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927) and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935). Contrary to Sherlock Holmes, the methods of Father Brown tend to be more intuitive than deductive, aided by his friend's experience Flambeau, a retired police.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Evgeny

    Father Brown, being a short Catholic priest is the second most harmless detective after Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. This is a collection of first short stories of his investigations. While some of the situations are slightly artificial, I still like the ingenuity of some of his adversaries (Flambeau, first and foremost). Another thing of note: most of the stories end with revealing of villain's identity without telling about his/her capture. If fact, in a couple of stories the bad guys defin Father Brown, being a short Catholic priest is the second most harmless detective after Miss Marple by Agatha Christie. This is a collection of first short stories of his investigations. While some of the situations are slightly artificial, I still like the ingenuity of some of his adversaries (Flambeau, first and foremost). Another thing of note: most of the stories end with revealing of villain's identity without telling about his/her capture. If fact, in a couple of stories the bad guys definitely escaped from justice. The book has slight theological undertones, as well as racist ones. Please keep in mind when it was written. It deserves 4 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steven

    Somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and television's MONK, Father Brown may be better than both. A bumbling, unimpressive priest who nevertheless uses insights gained in the confessional booth to solve the most intricate criminal mysteries---these stories are a lot of fun. And they have an added appeal because of the way this unusual detective points the criminals to the cross and if they do not repent entirely, he can often secure at least a confession and a return of the stolen loot. And, being Somewhere between Sherlock Holmes and television's MONK, Father Brown may be better than both. A bumbling, unimpressive priest who nevertheless uses insights gained in the confessional booth to solve the most intricate criminal mysteries---these stories are a lot of fun. And they have an added appeal because of the way this unusual detective points the criminals to the cross and if they do not repent entirely, he can often secure at least a confession and a return of the stolen loot. And, being a priest, there are the interesting religious and theological debates--you don't get much of that from Holmes or Monk. All three men may be geniuses, but only Father Brown has the peace and the strength found in a man who is at peace with the universe and his place in it. One more thing--these stories ought never be compared to the old television show, the "Father Dowling Mysteries," or whatever it was--with Tom Bosley. That show may be best remembered for the terrible leaps of logic that allowed the priest to involve himself in mysteries every week. It was too ridiculous to watch. But Chesterton's priest happens upon these mysteries in ways that do not feel forced, sort of like the travelers on the Orient Express who suddenly find themselves in the midst of a murder investigation. Father Brown is just present, minding his own business, when these strange episodes come along. Chesterton proves himself a master. And the mysteries take some unraveling! Very interesting.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    After all the reading I have been doing about the Detection Club, and the fact that I have had one volume or other of Father Brown on my to-read list since 2010, it is about time I met this unusual detective! He is Sherlock Holmes meets Miss Marple...and it works in a charming way. The mysteries lack shocking twists but more than make up for it with good fun and memorable characters. I really liked Hercule Flambeau. Couples are brought together, criminals experience justice (some by repenting, o After all the reading I have been doing about the Detection Club, and the fact that I have had one volume or other of Father Brown on my to-read list since 2010, it is about time I met this unusual detective! He is Sherlock Holmes meets Miss Marple...and it works in a charming way. The mysteries lack shocking twists but more than make up for it with good fun and memorable characters. I really liked Hercule Flambeau. Couples are brought together, criminals experience justice (some by repenting, others by suicide), and everywhere he goes, Father Brown clears up confusion and provides common sense by simply being himself. I especially liked The Invisible Man, The Eye of Apollo and the Three Tools of Death though almost all the stories involve unique (and over the top) twists and set ups. Highly recommended! Father Brown would make a great read out loud.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Remains favorite re-readable mystery. Each chapter's a different story. Christian - won't beat you up with The Bible. No gore, sex or language. Stories of mystery & romance told by a master (who couldn't always find his own way home - btw). British reader: Frederic Davidson. USA (& favorite) reader: Bryan Rohberg. eBook free @ Librivox.org, Gutenberg.org, Amazon.com & local library. TTS-enabled. Audio versions: -USA ver. free @ Librivox & library. -Brit ver. @ Audiobook.com ($). Britis Remains favorite re-readable mystery. Each chapter's a different story. Christian - won't beat you up with The Bible. No gore, sex or language. Stories of mystery & romance told by a master (who couldn't always find his own way home - btw). British reader: Frederic Davidson. USA (& favorite) reader: Bryan Rohberg. eBook free @ Librivox.org, Gutenberg.org, Amazon.com & local library. TTS-enabled. Audio versions: -USA ver. free @ Librivox & library. -Brit ver. @ Audiobook.com ($). British audio sounds slightly sarcastic, which isn't in keeping with priest's humility but this may be personal interpretation. Hardcopy @ a local library & Amazon.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dreamer

    Short stories: The Blue Cross The Secret Garden The Queer Feet The Flying Stars The Invisible Man The Honour of Israel Gow The Wrong Shape The Sins of Prince Saradine The Hammer of God The Eye of Apollo The Sign of the Broken Sword The Three Tools of Death

  18. 4 out of 5

    Pop

    I enjoyed this.collection of short stories. This was an audio book. The reader was very much an Englishman which gave the stories a character. Probably going to pickup the sequel.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Grace Crandall

    Love, love, love the Father Brown mysteries. I'd heard most of these before, but it was nice to read them all in order, and there were a few new ones as well. Flambeau is awesome. It was cool to watch how he changed through the various stories (though I do rather like him as a thief and a rogue as well) and Father Brown's rebellious innocence makes for a very refreshing read. Of course, there is also the fantastic prose that gives every story an odd and slightly overblown sense of belonging in a Love, love, love the Father Brown mysteries. I'd heard most of these before, but it was nice to read them all in order, and there were a few new ones as well. Flambeau is awesome. It was cool to watch how he changed through the various stories (though I do rather like him as a thief and a rogue as well) and Father Brown's rebellious innocence makes for a very refreshing read. Of course, there is also the fantastic prose that gives every story an odd and slightly overblown sense of belonging in a fairy tale or an ancient epic. Even without the interesting mysteries or fun characters, I'd almost read the book just for the settings. They're so fun!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Ah, Father Brown. I do like him. Even though some of the stories are far-fetched (and that is putting it nicely), I enjoy them. I like Father Brown's perspective and philosophy. There is a lot of humour in the stories, mainly based on very perceptive observations of life, which adds to their enjoyability.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erth

    Bravo! A good fast read! now i am hooked. This was such a great, easy and creative book. i was hooked after the first page. The characters were easy to fall in love with and follow, along with the story. the author made the mental visions so easy and vivid of the surroundings and the characters actions felt so real. i would highly recommend this author and this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terris

    I enjoyed these short story mysteries all solved by Father Brown! He's a quiet, unassuming priest who observes everything and puts it all together to solve the mystery. He reminds me a little bit of Miss Marple ;)

  23. 5 out of 5

    LG (A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions)

    After finishing the first story in this book, I had high hopes that, like Maurice Leblanc's Arsene Lupin, Chesterton's Father Brown would be another wonderful Project Gutenberg find for me. I enjoyed the reveal at the end of the first story, when Father Brown proved himself to be less naive then he appeared and explained the reason behind all the strange things he'd done and the actions he'd taken to protect the sapphire cross he carried. When Valentin, head of the Paris police and “the most fam After finishing the first story in this book, I had high hopes that, like Maurice Leblanc's Arsene Lupin, Chesterton's Father Brown would be another wonderful Project Gutenberg find for me. I enjoyed the reveal at the end of the first story, when Father Brown proved himself to be less naive then he appeared and explained the reason behind all the strange things he'd done and the actions he'd taken to protect the sapphire cross he carried. When Valentin, head of the Paris police and “the most famous investigator of the world” showed up again in the next story, I assumed that meant he would be a recurring character. The idea of a mystery-solving pair consisting of a priest and an atheist detective seemed interesting to me, and I wanted to see how two men of such differing beliefs would manage together. Then I got to the end of that second story, and my hopes were dashed. I still feel that Father Brown and Valentin would have made a more interesting pair than Father Brown and Flambeau. The revelation about Valentin came out of nowhere (unless his atheism was supposed to be a clue, in which case the entire story just plain makes me angry), and seemed, to me, to be an easy out for Chesterton. Rather than having to deal with potentially complicated future conversations between a religious man and an atheist, he simply took the atheist out of the picture. I didn't see Flambeau as much of anything beyond a constant reminder that Father Brown's way of doing things lead to people doing the Right Thing. And what was Father Brown's way of doing things? Well, in cases that didn't involve the police, his way of doing things meant not necessarily even contacting the police. In at least one of the stories, he left it completely up to the murderer to turn himself in. In another story, Father Brown figured out how Flambeau set up one of his thefts and could probably even have arranged for the police to catch him. Instead, he told Flambeau to give up his life of thievery and return what he stole. And Flambeau did. I've read that Father Brown's actions were in keeping with his profession, but that didn't mean they made for satisfying reading, at least not for me. I don't know that I would have minded as much if all his cases had involved thievery, but they didn't. I wasn't really comfortable with Father Brown figuring out how a murder had occurred and not always telling the police about it. In at least one story, there was no guarantee that any of the authorities ever found out what truly happened. In “The Sins of Prince Saradine,” for instance, there didn't seem to be any indication that the person at the root of the crime would ever be punished by the law. Maybe that didn't matter to Father Brown, but it mattered to me. After finishing the first story in the book, I saw Father Brown as an interesting character, one I could potentially like quite a bit. I came to like him less and less, however. His lack of interest in helping to see that secular justice was carried out bothered me, as I've said. I also felt that the way Chesterton wrote about him sometimes made him seem a bit creepy and unnerving. For instance, in “The Wrong Shape” he had several moments when he seemed a bit...off. Below is a good example. By the way, the "it" he's referring to is a knife. "It's very beautiful," said the priest in a low, dreaming voice; "the colours are very beautiful. But it's the wrong shape." "What for?" asked Flambeau, staring. "For anything. It's the wrong shape in the abstract. Don't you ever feel that about Eastern art? The colours are intoxicatingly lovely; but the shapes are mean and bad—deliberately mean and bad. I have seen wicked things in a Turkey carpet." "Mon Dieu!" cried Flambeau, laughing. "They are letters and symbols in a language I don't know; but I know they stand for evil words," went on the priest, his voice growing lower and lower. "The lines go wrong on purpose—like serpents doubling to escape." "What the devil are you talking about?" said the doctor with a loud laugh. Flambeau spoke quietly to him in answer. "The Father sometimes gets this mystic's cloud on him," he said; "but I give you fair warning that I have never known him to have it except when there was some evil quite near." "Oh, rats!" said the scientist. "Why, look at it," cried Father Brown, holding out the crooked knife at arm's length, as if it were some glittering snake. "Don't you see it is the wrong shape? Don't you see that it has no hearty and plain purpose? It does not point like a spear. It does not sweep like a scythe. It does not look like a weapon. It looks like an instrument of torture." What he was actually doing, I guess, was divining that the knife would become an instrument of murder. Or something. Except, at that point, he had no way of knowing any of that and was just having some kind of dreamy, creepy moment while holding a knife. In another story, Father Brown was at the scene of a murder and hinted at the true murder weapon, “with an odd little giggle.” That giggle kind of creeped me out. I don't think it was nervous laughter as a result of being around the dead body. I think he was just amused at the clever little hint he had given everyone...which seemed an inappropriate thing to be giggling over at the scene of a gruesome murder. Overall, while I found several of the mysteries to be interesting, they didn't always end in ways I found satisfactory. Because I also didn't really like Father Brown, I doubt I'll be reading more of Chesterton's Father Brown stories. (Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    I don’t usually like short story anthologies, but I made an exception for The Innocence of Father Brown because of Gilbert Keith Chesterton and his friendship with C.S. Lewis and other scholars/authors of the era. I also like the fact that there is a recurring cast of characters in most of the stories in this collection, so I didn’t feel short-changed when I finished each story. They became more like television episodes of a favorite mystery series. The prose can be a little dense at times, but I don’t usually like short story anthologies, but I made an exception for The Innocence of Father Brown because of Gilbert Keith Chesterton and his friendship with C.S. Lewis and other scholars/authors of the era. I also like the fact that there is a recurring cast of characters in most of the stories in this collection, so I didn’t feel short-changed when I finished each story. They became more like television episodes of a favorite mystery series. The prose can be a little dense at times, but the occasionally slow-going usually features a nice pay-off. The anthology gets its name, I presume, as a pun on events in the first two stories where Father Brown is under suspicion. Since the title proclaims his innocence, I also presume that it won’t be a spoiler to say that he ends up solving both crimes. The following summary suggests what I enjoyed about each story. The first story has suspects, including a clergyman, engaged in mysterious activities that don’t seem to make sense. The second is a “locked garden” instead of “locked room” mystery, but the issue is essentially the same and the solution is likely easy to deduce for experienced mystery readers. The third mystery hinges on the mystery of two walking styles. The next was called “The Flying Stars” and dealt with jewels that had been stolen so often that they were christened with the name of the story. The crime involves the English pantomime version of "commedia del arte" and ends with a sermon combined with solution by Brown. In my opinion, it is one of the best stories in the collection. I like Brown’s words to the thief, “I know the woods like very free behind you, Flambeau; I know that in a flash you could melt into them like a monkey, Flambeau. You will sit up in your free forest cold at heart and close to death, and the tree-tops will be very bare.” After a brief interlude, the old priest continues, “Your downward steps have begun. You used to boast of doing nothing mean, but you are doing something mean tonight. You are leaving suspicion on an honest boy with a good deal against him already; you are separating him from the woman he loves and who loves him. But you will do meaner things than that before you die.” In such a way, GKC posits the downward spiral of crime/lack of integrity. Fifth, is a story that deals with perception or the lack thereof when a murder is committed by an invisible man. This story underscores something I began to realize about halfway through the book. I noticed that Father Brown rarely actually brings the perpetrator to justice, but often toward redemption. Sixth, there is a cute little macabre story about missing gold, even down to the gilt on illuminated manuscripts. It’s very short and has a nice touch. Seventh, we read GKC's idea of miracle when a phony Indian swami appears to kill the victim by auto-suggestion. The eighth tale is a bit like a "call-back" in comedy in that it refers back to another story, foreshadows the result in this story and pulls it together with an unexpected twist. I loved the "Hammer of God" story for GKC's parable about needing other people to worship authentically lest we fail to see ourselves as we really are. The priest claims to have known a man “…who began by worshipping with others before the altar, but who grew fond of high and lonely places to pray from, corners or niches in the belfry or the spire. And once in one of those dizzy places, where the whole world seemed to turn under him like a wheel, his brain turned also, and he fancied he was God.” Going further, the priest noted, “He thought it was given to him to judge the world and strike down the sinner. He would never have had such a thought if he had been kneeling with other men upon a floor. But he saw all men walking about like insects.” This is terrific insight on the need for humility in one’s faith. The one spiritual disease according to Father Brown is to believe oneself well. That is how the mystery around the new Apollo sect begins. Another story deals with the past reputation of a military hero. The exposition was fascinating and not what I was expecting. In yet another story, GKC suggests that people cannot tolerate constant cheerfulness without accompanying humor. What an interesting insight! In short, I’m not positive I would have read this anthology if I had realized it was an anthology when I first opened it. Yet, I am delighted that I read it. It was stimulating and delightful, much like the books of GKC’s friends that I have also enjoyed.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrés Diplotti

    Alas, Chesterton! Why must you be so frustrating? Such a beautiful prose for such an insubstantial fare! Chesterton's style is so pleasant to read that I want, I really want to like these stories. I'm certainly very fond of passages like this: There is in the world a very aged rioter and demagogue who breaks into the most refined retreats with the dreadful information that all men are brothers, and wherever this leveller went on his pale horse it was Father Brown's trade to follow. Or this: The ves Alas, Chesterton! Why must you be so frustrating? Such a beautiful prose for such an insubstantial fare! Chesterton's style is so pleasant to read that I want, I really want to like these stories. I'm certainly very fond of passages like this: There is in the world a very aged rioter and demagogue who breaks into the most refined retreats with the dreadful information that all men are brothers, and wherever this leveller went on his pale horse it was Father Brown's trade to follow. Or this: The vessel was just comfortable for two people; there was room only for necessities, and Flambeau had stocked it with such things as his special philosophy considered necessary. They reduced themselves, apparently, to four essentials: tins of salmon, if he should want to eat; loaded revolvers, if he should want to fight; a bottle of brandy, presumably in case he should faint; and a priest, presumably in case he should die. If only the plots lived up to the way they are written! I don't understand why Chesterton is considered an authority of the detective story. There are some clever ideas, but cleverness is no substitute for logical sense. His stories rely heavily on contrivance and unbelievable circumstances; his criminal masterminds consistently fail to think their schemes through; his great sleuths resort to methods that have no business working, yet they do.Perhaps I'm seeing this the wrong way? Perhaps this is not how these stories should be appreciated? Granted, my only other contact with the genre has been through Sherlock Holmes, but I can attest that even the worst Holmes story is better plotted than mostly anything in this volume. Also, Arthur Conan Doyle made the wise move of making Holmes's rational approach fallible, whereas Father Brown's often baseless intuitions end up being proven right every time. Many a mystery is solved by his miraculously noticing something that has been miraculously overlooked by everyone else. Perhaps he gets help from the Holy Ghost? I say that only half-jokingly, as the religious apologetics is all-pervasive. Father Brown misses no chance to expound on the superiority of Catholicism, or, more annoyingly, on the evils of pretty much everything that is not Catholicism. He is supposed to be a mild-mannered, unassuming priest, yet he often comes across as rather smug and even positively bigoted. This is not necessarily a bad thing in a literary character: again, Sherlock Holmes has some unsavory flaws too. The difference is that Holmes has Watson to call him out on those. No one calls Father Brown out when he quaintly claims, for example, that the Scottish favoring Calvinism rather than Catholicism is somehow related to the alleged fact that their ancestors worshipped demons. Or consider this passage, more beautiful prose, but this time in the service of less than beautiful notions: "[...] Don't you ever feel that about Eastern art? The colours are intoxicatingly lovely; but the shapes are mean and bad—deliberately mean and bad. I have seen wicked things in a Turkey carpet." "Mon Dieu!" cried Flambeau, laughing. "They are letters and symbols in a language I don't know; but I know they stand for evil words," went on the priest, his voice growing lower and lower. "The lines go wrong on purpose—like serpents doubling to escape." Whenever Sherlock Holmes lets his prejudices cloud his judgement, he fails. In "A Scandal in Bohemia," (view spoiler)[he underestimates Irene Adler on account of her being a woman and, as a result, she outsmarts him and gets away (hide spoiler)] . Contrast this with "The Secret Garden," where Father Brown reasons that (view spoiler)[being an atheist is motivation enough to commit a gruesome murder (hide spoiler)] , and the author heartily agrees. In Chesterton's literary universe you may be a good, well-meaning person, but if you're not Catholic then you're a potential homicide. At the very least, you are suspicious enough to serve as a red herring. Because man's heart is wicked, you know, and only the Church's discipline can prevent him from going over to the devil. This is not just how Father Brown sees other characters: it's how Chesterton writes them. He doesn't acknowledge the faults of his protagonist because he shares them and considers them virtues. As a creator, G. K. Chesterton has shaped a world after the likeness of his prejudice and sent forth Father Brown to spread his word upon it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Really awful Christian propaganda posing as murder mysteries. I was poised to like Chesterton, based solely on a few of his quotes I’d stumbled upon and Neil Gaiman’s good opinion. It’s true that the mysteries themselves are quite interesting. Unfortunately, Chesterton has a narrowness of view. In the first story of the collection, the clever police chief Valentin is the main character. I quite liked him, and looked forward to more interactions between him (an atheist) and Father Brown (a saintl Really awful Christian propaganda posing as murder mysteries. I was poised to like Chesterton, based solely on a few of his quotes I’d stumbled upon and Neil Gaiman’s good opinion. It’s true that the mysteries themselves are quite interesting. Unfortunately, Chesterton has a narrowness of view. In the first story of the collection, the clever police chief Valentin is the main character. I quite liked him, and looked forward to more interactions between him (an atheist) and Father Brown (a saintly priest). Unfortunately, Chesterton had no intention of writing a debate of any kind—in the very next story, Father Brown says,”Valentin is an honest man, if being mad for an arguable cause is honesty. But did you never see in that cold, grey eye of his that he is mad! He would do anything, anything, to break what he calls the superstition of the Cross. He has fought for it and starved for it, and now he has murdered for it.” And thence, Valentin kills himself, unable to deal with The Truth of Christianity. Father Brown’s incessant saintliness in all the stories is bad enough, but a few stories later he meets a "Hindoo." This conversation ensues, “"It's very beautiful," said the priest in a low, dreaming voice; "the colours are very beautiful. But it's the wrong shape." "What for?" asked Flambeau, staring. "For anything. It's the wrong shape in the abstract. Don't you ever feel that about Eastern art? The colours are intoxicatingly lovely; but the shapes are mean and bad-- deliberately mean and bad. I have seen wicked things in a Turkey carpet." "Mon Dieu!" cried Flambeau, laughing. "They are letters and symbols in a language I don't know; but I know they stand for evil words," went on the priest, his voice growing lower and lower. "The lines go wrong on purpose—like serpents doubling to escape." "What the devil are you talking about?" said the doctor with a loud laugh. Flambeau spoke quietly to him in answer. "The Father sometimes gets this mystic's cloud on him," he said; "but I give you fair warning that I have never known him to have it except when there was some evil quite near." "Oh, rats!" said the scientist. "Why, look at it," cried Father Brown, holding out the crooked knife at arm's length, as if it were some glittering snake. "Don't you see it is the wrong shape? Don't you see that it has no hearty and plain purpose? It does not point like a spear. It does not sweep like a scythe. It does not look like a weapon. It looks like an instrument of torture."” And if *that’s* not bad enough, shortly thereafter the “scientist” is proven to be a murderer, and commits suicide, complete with a suicide note that says Father Brown and Christianity were right about everything all along. The author pounds home the Anglo Christians=good, everyone else=bad message pretty hard. Not a story goes by without religion playing a major part, and there’s racism every single time a character of color pops up. (Note that the Asian man-servant has a “hacking” and “dreadful” accent, and “his slits of eyes almost faded from his face in one fat Chinese sneer.” The other characters feel an instinctive revulsion against him, “Merton felt an almost bodily sickness at the sight of him; and he muttered to Gilder: "Surely you would take Miss Armstrong's word against his?"” A better person might have leavened his character’s racism with an authorial tone that condemned or mocked their stance; instead, Chesterton clearly agrees.) Dear Chesterton: I have better things to do with my life than read your bigotry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    I quite enjoy Father Brown stories. I began reading them a couple years ago...I wanted to get a hold of The Man Who Was Thursday...because I had found it somewhere. In writing each story, the writer inevitably comes by the personage of Father Brown as almost of a side-note, and each story he is introduced again as if it didn't matter that the entire volume of stories were his stories. G.K Chesterton writes very colorfully, in rainbows and spirals, populating his stories with color, extreme weath I quite enjoy Father Brown stories. I began reading them a couple years ago...I wanted to get a hold of The Man Who Was Thursday...because I had found it somewhere. In writing each story, the writer inevitably comes by the personage of Father Brown as almost of a side-note, and each story he is introduced again as if it didn't matter that the entire volume of stories were his stories. G.K Chesterton writes very colorfully, in rainbows and spirals, populating his stories with color, extreme weather and landscapes, and eccentric personages--in all cases the figure of Father Brown is an inconspicuous contrasting blot, suggested by his name, which is not only the most uninteresting of colors but also a most common unremarkable name. He is further described as short, having blank little eyes, and face which is sometimes likened to that of a baby. He, however, is quite discerning into man's sinful nature that he is able to see through the superfluity of each crime and discover its core. In each case, Chesterton also seems to be making a theological point (he was a converted, enthusiastic Catholic) the most over arching one perhaps is that of becoming simple--boring even--and clear-headed. Not only do the murderers reveal their natures as bad, but also more subtly, the people around Father Brown reveal their own blindness by their own limited ideas of what actually happened. Over and over again, the Father is the only sincere Catholic, the only one with a path so to say, and each story you see everyone else go astray. Commenting on a new age religion, the priest of which has presumably just committed a crime, Father Brown says, "Yes but can it cure the one spiritual disease?". "And what is that?" his friend asks. "Oh, thinking one is quite well," he replies. He also finds it appropriate to critique those that "read the bible" and simultaneously accusing one person (the suspicion of that person is cleared by having this "good" attribute), by noting that Mormons read the bible and find Polygamy, a type setter reads it and finds errors, a Christian scientist reads it and finds no arms and legs. For Father Brown there is no, no one religion fits all, and thats the delight of reading these stories. His spiritual certainty and depth is strikingly attractive, and familiar to anyone who has fully embraced a religion, and it is perfect to fit it against crime,the largest most gross manifestation of small imperfections of spiritual dispositions. The only narrative problem with the stories is that he is a Catholic Priest and it becomes harder and harder to believe that would happen to be around went so many deadly crimes occur. This is eased by his friends presence who he always seems to be visiting who is a detective but enough stories occurs where the crime happens in the next room to where they are sitting talking...it becomes more and more harder to believe. The murders and stories are not quite as real life as those say in Sherlock Holmes stories...they are a bit more fanciful, but never being so overblown and symbolic and weird as The Man Who Was Thursday, that being my only critique.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ritesh Kukrety

    Okay, so confession time (see what I did there? Didja? Didja?) I picked up an abridged version of The Innocence of Father Brown, published by Maple Press, on a whim. Two whims, actually. I liked its cover, which had this cartoonish figure in a brown coat and a light brown hat and a big fecking magnifying glass glued to his eye, and I liked its title and blurb. Now before any of you go chastising me over my faux-pas, allow me to state that I always judge a book by its cover (and judge it more for Okay, so confession time (see what I did there? Didja? Didja?) I picked up an abridged version of The Innocence of Father Brown, published by Maple Press, on a whim. Two whims, actually. I liked its cover, which had this cartoonish figure in a brown coat and a light brown hat and a big fecking magnifying glass glued to his eye, and I liked its title and blurb. Now before any of you go chastising me over my faux-pas, allow me to state that I always judge a book by its cover (and judge it more for what is inside the cover. I am just a very judgmental person). Let me also assuage your inflamed emotions by revealing that I was almost immediately disappointed by it. Father Brown, the nondescript Catholic priest and part-time deducer of crime, was the polar opposite of the excited little figure denoted on the cover. Sleuthing was NOT the Good Father's primary profession, but an interesting byproduct of his years of service as a priest and a confessor. And he never, ever, ever used a magnifying glass through the entire book. Incorrect expectation setting, quite bigly! The Innocence of Father Brown starts off with 'The Blue Cross', the story that introduces us to Father Brown, and to Hercule Flambeau (the thief), and to Aristide Valentine (the cop). The weird actions of the characters, the quirky way the story progresses, the conclusion were all eminently readable and quite enjoyable. A more detailed reading would probably reveal the author's predeliction for overly dramatising the ending, but I am willing to let that pass. The next story made me wonder if Chesterton was on opium when he wrote it. A murder was committed to be solved by Father Brown. Only, the logic behind the crime was baffling, the mystery was highly contrived, and the religious posturing quite apparent. The only progression that this story makes to the canon is that a promising character - an atheist - is conveniently disposed off by Chesterton. This, as someone pointed out in another review of the book, was the author trying to seek an easy way out of a potential ideological conflict between a man of the cloth and an intelligent religious disbeliever. I can only wish there was a better exploration of the nature of religion and atheism through the interactions of two very dissimilar characters. If you are able to make it through this story, congratulations. Chesterton improves as the book progresses. His writing style is simple, but not simplistic, and his storytelling is probably on par with the best of his era. The religious pontification is unavoidable, given the author's strong feelings for the Catholic Church, and there are a few instances where a belief in the inherent 'wrongness' of any other religion or culture seeps through in the writing. The mystery is not that mysterious either, especially if you've read a lot of whodunits, and some stories might require a slight suspension of belief. But, all in all, the book still keeps you hooked, underlining why Chesterton, along with Doyle, is considered to be one of the most defining presence for the genre. I can almost see Agatha Christie's Poirot being influenced by Father Brown.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anushree

    I was introduced to Father Brown by my grandfather. I was maybe 13 or so when he wrote to me in a letter, "I know you love Sherlock Holmes. You should try finding out if your library has the Father Brown detective stories by G.K. Chesterton." I looked, but in vain. It was years before i got the complete Father Brown stories as a gift from a friend who knew how much i wanted to get acquainted with this little priest who has often been dubbed as the second greatest fictional detective in the world. T I was introduced to Father Brown by my grandfather. I was maybe 13 or so when he wrote to me in a letter, "I know you love Sherlock Holmes. You should try finding out if your library has the Father Brown detective stories by G.K. Chesterton." I looked, but in vain. It was years before i got the complete Father Brown stories as a gift from a friend who knew how much i wanted to get acquainted with this little priest who has often been dubbed as the second greatest fictional detective in the world. The Innocence of Father Brown is the first of five compilations of Father Brown stories. The stories, though somewhat resembling those by Conan Doyle, are ingenious enough to make a mark of their own. 'The Hammer of God' and 'The Eye of Apollo' make for themselves a whole new level in the much sought after and much delved into genre of mystery/thriller. Father Brown, though not an antithesis, is as different a man from the great Sherlock Holmes as two men could be. A priest by profession, his physical appearance does not do enough justice to the magnificent brain that he carries around in his head. Unlike Holmes, he's short and stumpy, with a disaster of a fashion sense, and is supposed to have an inner eye that looks deep into human soul and finds out evil. He does not have a Watson like sidekick-cum-chronicler-cum-friend who accompanies him in all his adventures, yet he is, in some stories, assisted by the reformed jewel thief Flambeau. Unlike Holmes, again, Father Brown's methods of detection are more intuitive rather than deductive, giving his character the spiritual and philosophical edge that Chesterton himself professed. Father Brown is sometimes touted as Chesterton's agent to the world to carry his own ideas and views. Finally, the book gets a five stars from me because the stories deserve them. It is probably unfair to compare this pudgy little fellow with the great Holmes, who has set unreachable standards for the fictional detective, but I would be lying if i said that Father Brown doesn't manage to create for himself a completely independent and permanent place in the history of fictional detectives.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Because the first G.K. Chesterton story I had ever read -- many years ago -- was "The Blue Cross," the story that opens The Innocence of Father Brown, I have been consciously avoiding the Father brown stories and reading just about everything else by GKC that I could lay my hands on. Was it that I didn't like the story? Not at all! It was just that I was saving it for another occasion. Well, that occasion arose this week. There is a strange disconnect between the characters in the Father Brown my Because the first G.K. Chesterton story I had ever read -- many years ago -- was "The Blue Cross," the story that opens The Innocence of Father Brown, I have been consciously avoiding the Father brown stories and reading just about everything else by GKC that I could lay my hands on. Was it that I didn't like the story? Not at all! It was just that I was saving it for another occasion. Well, that occasion arose this week. There is a strange disconnect between the characters in the Father Brown mysteries and the landscape that they move around in. The stories center around a group of singularly flawed individuals, and the strange oddly repellent landscape they inhabit reflects on their moral turpitude or odd beliefs or other factors limiting their personality. The detective Catholic priest seems to draw energy from this singular disjunction and succeed every time in exposing what flaw had led to the crime being investigated. The technique is simple and flawless; and the stories are all among Chesterton's best.

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