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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value and excellent production
Father Brown has not weathered the ages quite as well as beloved Sherlock - perhaps I have become more cynical or more demanding in clever twists and turns ...

That being said, the stories are beautifully written, totally engaging and pleasantly logical and reasonable - no (or few) fantastical leaps of logic or belief :)

I don't normally like...
Published on 20 Mar 2011 by Combat Wombat

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Father Brown
An old classic that I have been promising myself to read for ages. Did not live up to my expectations but others might find this collection of short stories of interest.
Published on 7 Mar 2012 by Struan


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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value and excellent production, 20 Mar 2011
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Father Brown has not weathered the ages quite as well as beloved Sherlock - perhaps I have become more cynical or more demanding in clever twists and turns ...

That being said, the stories are beautifully written, totally engaging and pleasantly logical and reasonable - no (or few) fantastical leaps of logic or belief :)

I don't normally like compendiums on the Kindle - I tend to jump about and get a bit lost - but this collection was perfect to read one or two stories in bed and then just come back and read the next one later.

All in all a smashing, enjoyable, tidy and pleasurable read at a stupidly low price. CW.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Complete satisfaction provided by a gentle detective, 29 Nov 2009
By 
R. F. Stevens "richard23491" (Ickenham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Complete Father Brown Stories (Paperback)
Father Brown is not a knuckle wielding hardnose private dick, anything but. The stories are intriguing and subtle, most benefit from two or three re-reads to gain the most insight. I bought this 'Complete Father Brown Stories' collection more than a month ago, and have enjoyed every minute of revisiting old favourites first seen four and five decades ago.

The tales are examples of mental agility in deducing unusual solutions from seemingly unrelated or even paradoxical facts. As one exposed to all sides of life in the confessional, Father Brown has an unusually broad experience to draw on, far more so than the average member of the public, or a mundane and unimaginative policeman.

David Stuart Davies has added a useful introduction and points out that this collection also includes Sir Max Pemberton's mystery challenge 'The Donnington Affair' and Father Brown's solution to it, not previously published in other FB collections.

In some cases Chesterton is sounding one of his own drums, but mainly these idiosyncrasies have been buried by the passage of time, and the stories can be enjoyed for what they are, and considered as a very clear window into the world as it was when they were written.

At face value then these are good stories. On a deeper level, some interesting morality is discussed. In the murky abyss of the substrate some severe prejudices can be seen peeping through which are definitely no longer politically correct. But remember when they were written!

This collection is a must buy at this bargain price. Lovers of cunning detective fiction will enjoy them, cultural or religious philosophers may well argue with them. Both will benefit from reading them.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 17 Nov 2004
By A Customer
I would advise anyone considering buying this book to ignore the comments from our Japanese friend. Chesterton was a Christian and was not ashamed of it - it shows distinctly in his work - but it certainly doesn't detract from the stories, which are of the highest calibre with some of the classic solutions to "impossible" crime puzzles (The Invisible Man, et al). Knowing Chesterton's Christian slant, if you like, will not help you to solve some of the most baffling plots in all of detective fiction, I can assure you. Guessing one or two of the culprits doesn't constitute 'solving the mystery', and the Father Brown stories are so much more than just "whodunnits".
Delightful writing, superb characterisation and ingenuity you will not get from many modern day authors, if any. A fine collection that should be on the shelf of anyone with an interest in the genre.
First rate.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A better class of Agatha Christie!, 19 Nov 2000
OK, turn of the century lit may not be everybody's cuppa...but if you enjoy Agatha Christie or other genteel murder then this is definately for you. The main character being a priest with a true understanding of the human condition gives these stories added depth lacking in most books in this genre. I couldn't put it down! If you enjoy his style of writing try some of his short stories or poems - you'll not be disappointed!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eminently readable and witty..., 20 Sep 2005
This book compiles some short detective stories, with an unlikely protagonist, a priest. Father Brown is a rather quiet main character, unpretentious but remarkably assured. He uses logic in order to solve his cases, and he makes abundant use of good judgment and sound sense. Father Brown has an unique "worldly shrewdness", that probably stems from the fact that he spends many hours each day listening to the sins of other people. As a result, he is more or less acquainted with the bad side of human beings.
Father Brown is considered by many "the second most famous mystery-solver in English literature", the first being Sherlock Holmes. To tell the truth, I prefer Father Brown to Sherlock Holmes: he might not be as showy as Conan Doyle's character, but he is far more likeable, and his stories seem more likely to be real. Moreover, Chesterton's Father Brown doesn't just chase criminals, he allows the reader to learn about some interesting themes that were important when these stories were first published, but that also are important now, for example the relationship between faith and reason. He manages to that because he doesn't merely want to "catch the criminal", he also endeavors to understand human nature, and the reasons why a criminal becomes one.
The author of these mystery stories was Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936), a renowned English writer who wrote them between 1911 and 1936. His stories are as popular now as they were then, mainly to to the fact that Chesterton's style is compelling and refreshing, eminently readable and witty. Thus, these stories appeal not only to those who want to read a good book written in an exceptionally good english, but also to those who want to do exactly that without having to exhert themselves.
On the whole, I think this collection of short stories is worth buying and reading, not only once but many times. I highly enjoyed it, and I strongly recommend it to you :)
Belen Alcat
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, bargain-priced fun, 6 Sep 2003
This review is from: The Complete Father Brown Stories (Paperback)
If you enjoy Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, I think you will appreciate Father Brown. This edition is a great bargain-priced introduction.
Father Brown is the archetypal bumbler who is actually quite adept at finding out who committed the crime. He is the ordinary citizen who beats the police at their own game.
I got addicted to short stories about 35 years ago when I was at high school. I began reading them in the yellow-covered Gollancz science fiction short story collections. There is something to be said for a story that you can read at a sitting.
Chesterton's stories are now public domain. You can sample them online, but it is much nicer to have a book to browse away from the computer!
And this is such an unbeatable price, I am buying several copies to give as excellent, but inexpensive gifts.
Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Father Brown, 7 Mar 2012
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An old classic that I have been promising myself to read for ages. Did not live up to my expectations but others might find this collection of short stories of interest.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A priestly paradox: crime meets the cleric., 3 July 2001
This review is from: The Complete Father Brown Stories (Paperback)
In the genre of the finely crafted English detective story, Chesterton's "Father Brown" stories are wholesome and stimulating detective tales surpassed by few others, except perhaps Doyle's legendary Sherlock Holmes. In contrast to the arrogant Holmes, however, Chesterton's protagonist is rather quiet, unassuming and modest, and makes an unlikely hero - a catholic priest. Father Brown's simple manner makes you quick to underestimate him, but the startling flashes of brilliance that spill from beneath his humble exterior soon make you realize that he has a firm grasp on the truth of a situation when you are as yet frustratingly distant from it. His perceptive one-liners make it evident that he has a clear insight into something that you see only as an apparently insoluble paradox.
Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox", and the Father Brown stories are a clear testimony of his fondness for paradox. Ultimately it is not just crimes that Brown must solve, but the paradox underlying them. In fact, not all stories are crime stories - among them are mysterious situations that do not involve criminals, and it is the perceptive insight of Father Brown that is needed make apparent contradictions comprehensible by his ruthless logic. Father Brown is not so much concerned with preserving life or bringing a criminal to justice as he is with unravelling the strands of an impossible paradox. In fact, Chesterton's conception of Father Brown is itself a paradox - both a cleric and a crime-fighter, a priest and a policeman, a representative of God's mercy and an instrument of God's justice, a proclaimer of forgiveness and a seeker of guilt, a listener in the confessional and a questioner in the interrogation.
How a priest could possibly play the role of a detective is explained in the first story, "The Blue Cross". Brown apprehends the confounded criminal Flambeau and explains that his knowledge of the criminal mind is due in part to what he's heard at the confessional booth "We can't help being priests. People come and tell us these things." (p.17) When Flambeau retorts "How in blazes do you know all these horrors?" Chesterton allows his humble priest to attribute his insight into human depravity to his experience as a priest: "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." (p.18)
But both Chesterton and Father Brown have insight into much more than just human depravity - they are both champions of Catholic orthodoxy. This gives the Father Brown stories a depth not found in Brown's compatriot Holmes. In the course of Chesterton's stories, we are treated to philosophical discussions about catholic theology, such as the relationship between faith and reason. We do not merely meet an assortment of cobblers, blacksmiths, magistrates and generals, but atheists, legalists, secularists, pagans, Presbyterians, Puritans, Protestants and Catholics, all with varying and vying affections for superstition, naturalism, rationalism, scepticism, agnosticism, materialism, anarchism, nihilism, or cynicism. Along with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, G.K. Chesterton was one of the few writers in the twentieth century that made an important contribution to English literature that was stamped by Christian principles instead of the prevailing secularism of the day.
Readers who do not share Chesterton's theological convictions will not concur with all his insights, but they must concede that they are enjoyable, profound and stimulating. Somewhat surprising is the occasional use of blasphemous expletives such as "O my God", although generally from the mouths of others than Father Brown himself. And Brown does seem to degenerate more and more into a mouthpiece for Chesterton, with a sermonizing tone not present in the first stories.
But on the whole these are exemplary models of the English crime short story. The "Wordsworth Classics" edition contains a selection of 18 favorite stories, with contributions from all five of Chesterton's published Father Brown collections. Among my favorites are "The Blue Cross", where Father Brown follows a mysterious trail of clues and engages in some bizarre behaviour and fascinating theological discourse to apprehend Flambeau. "The Hammer of God" is also an outstanding whodunnit, as Brown solves the murder of a man who has been crushed by a huge hammer outside a church, seemingly the recipient of a divine thunderbolt of judgment from heaven. In the process Chesterton shares some thought-provoking insights, such as the memorable: "Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak." (p.91) Also unforgettable is "The Blast of the Book", which recounts the mysterious disappearance of five men whose only crime was to open a seemingly magical book. Father Brown is quick to unravel the paradox by explaining it as the work of an ingenious prankster.
Father Brown's tongue never fails to produce profound paradoxical gems such as "The point of the pin was that it was pointless." (p.273). And: "I never should have thought he would be so illogical as to die in order to avoid death." (p.264) It is Brown's unique perspective that allows him to see what others do not see. When his compatriots are awed at the eloquence of a magistrate's thundering sermon in "the Mirror of the Magistrate", Father Brown remarks: "I think the thing that struck me most was how different men look in their wigs. You talk about the prosecuting barrister being so tremendous. But I happened to see him take his wig off for a minute, and he really looks quite a different man. He's quite bald, for one thing." (p.222.) His words are frequently indicative of remarkable perception.
With the finely crafted prose, depth of theological insight, and brilliant combination of perception and paradox, Chesterton has created in Father Brown a noble and enduring character, a worthy successor to Sherlock Holmes and in some respects his equal and superior. The Father Brown stories are unquestionably worthy of their designation as classics.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection of gems, 9 Oct 2007
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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Every single story in this collection is a little work of art, with superb characterization, ingenious plots, and lovely dialogue and language. Even if you've read them all before, just looking at the titles of these stories ('The queer feet', 'The paradise of thieves', 'The oracle of the dog'!) makes you want to delve in again and indulge yourself. Quite simply a feast, from the first page to the last.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars light reading, 1 July 2012
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Escape into a world of crime that never really existed. G.K.Chesterton is a master of atmosphere and a shrewd builder of character. He evokes tension through descriptions of time and place with an almost poetic touch. Father Brown is not a Sherlock Holmes but he solves mysteries with uncommon insight. The world Chesterton depicts is quaintly dated, but this gives much interest to the book. Chesterton very occasionally uses words which if used today could be offensive but this would be a misinterpretation: language has changed. The stories are short and can be recommended for light reading.
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The Complete Father Brown Stories
The Complete Father Brown Stories by G.K. Chesterton (Paperback - 2006)
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