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The Wisdom of Father Brown

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

This is the second of five books of short stories about G. K. Chesterton’s fictional detective. Father Brown is a short, nondescript Catholic Priest with shapeless clothes and a large umbrella who has an uncanny insight into human evil. His methods, unlike those of his near contemporary Sherlock Holmes, although based on observation of details often unnoticed by others, tended to be intuitive rather than deductive. Although clearly devout, he always emphasizes rationality: despite his religiousness and his belief in God and miracles, he manages to see the perfectly ordinary, natural explanation of the problem. He is a devout, educated and “civilized” clergyman, who is totally familiar with contemporary and secular thought and behavior. His character was thought to be based on Father John O’Connor, a parish priest in Bradford, Yorkshire.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .rmula for powder is in grey envelope in first drawer to the left of Secretary's desk, War Office, in red ink. He must be careful. P.H.'"

He rattled short sentences like a quick-firing gun, but he was plainly the sort of man who is either mad or right. The mass of the crowd was Nationalist, and already in threatening uproar; and a minority of equally angry Intellectuals, led by Armagnac and Brun, only made the majority more militant.

"If this is a military secret," shouted Brun, "why do you yell about it in the street?"

"I will tell you why I do!" roared Dubosc above the roaring crowd. "I went to this man in straight and civil style. If he had any explanation it could have been given in complete confidence. He refuses to explain. He refers me to two strangers in a cafe as to two flunkeys. He has thrown me out of the house, but I am going back into it, with the people of Paris behind me!"

A shout seemed to shake the very facade . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Oh my...how much do I love Father Brown? I don't have a crush on him like I do on Lord Peter Wimsey, but he's so wise and compassionate and unassuming that I wish he was my priest. Not that I have a priest, or would really know what to do if I did. But that's how much I like him.

I'm a little sad that I've finished it, since it was the complete Father Brown. The last time I went to read it I hated it; I found it priggish, and overly concerned with darkness. But now, I guess, it reads to me like someone who might feel the world has forgotten what sin is; has forgotten what...more

The omnibus is the exhaustive collection of G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown short stories. If you've got a taste for detective stories and clever, British tones, then you'll love it. The omnibus is huge and I've been working through it for about 8 months. Take it a story at a time with a cup of ho...more

Father Brown is one of my favourite fictional detectives because G. K. Chesterton embodied him with a wonderful sense of time and place. The strength of Chesterton's Father Brown stories lie in their diversity (brilliant, contemplative and bizarre - sometimes all at once) consistent cleverness an...more

Father Brown is to psychology what Sherlock Holmes is to material evidence. Re-reading these last Fall, I found that the chief pleasure and merit of the Father Brown mystery stories is getting inside the mind of Chesterton himself. The stories themselves are uneven in worth -- I got the impressio...more

I so enjoy dipping into these time and again. One brief story before I have to cook supper; one story before bed. A story read out loud to change the mood of intractable children; one story to remind me again of the forgotten joy of being human.
Sometimes I read reviews of older literature and som...more

I notice that it has taken me two months exactly to read this omnibus of all the Father Brown stories. Father Brown is unlike any other detective in fiction. His approach to solving crime - usually murders - is to imagine himself as the murderer:

’I had planned out each of the crimes very carefull...more

Wow. I picked up this book because I was enjoy mysteries that are neither cozy nor thrillers, so I find that older mysteries are more to my taste. However, I didn't really enjoy these at all. While I thought some of the solutions were problematic, as in "The Invisible Man", and I was put off by t...more

I feel kind of harsh giving this book 2 stars, since I really enjoyed the first five stories, which were the ones I was reading for university. In fact, I enjoyed them so much I decided to carry on reading this 700-odd page anthology, even though the required reading for the module was only the f...more

Father Brown is simply one of the best characters ever created--a blend of brilliance, joy, and simplicity. The stories are engaging, the endings are believable, sometimes even solvable, but never obviously predictable or boring. With five volumes, there are inevitably certain similarities in som...more

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