The Complete Father Brown
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The Complete Father Brown (Father Brown)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  3,004 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Forty-nine quietly sensational cases investigated by the high-priest of detective fiction

Immortalized in these famous stories, G.K. Chesterton's endearing amateur sleuth has entertained countless generations of readers. For, ss his admirers know, Father Brown's cherubic face and unworldly simplicity, his glasses and his huge umbrella, disguise a quite uncanny u...more
Paperback, 718 pages
Published January 6th 1987 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1935)
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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 hot tea and low lighting!
Jun 05, 2008 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Emily
Recommended to Katie by: My mom
Oh 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 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 first 125pp or so. Taken on its own, Book 1, "The Innocence of Father Brown", would have easily earned an extra star or two from me. Book 2, "The Wisdom of Father Brown", was still fun to read, but I foun...more
Father Brown is a Catholic priest who somehow always gets involved in crime - as the one who solves the case, of course. But Father Brown doesn't seem to have logical methods like Sherlock Holmes, or Hercule Poirot, perhaps. In fact he oftentimes looks like a dreamy, absent-minded clergyman whose words nobody may understand. Several times people think he has known who the culprit is and is telling them to capture the man - when all he's saying is that the man is a witness or somebody who knows m...more
The most incredible thing about miracles is that they happen. A few clouds in heaven do come together into the staring shape of one human eye. A tree does stand up in the landscape of a doubtful journey in the exact and elaborate shape of a note of interrogation. I have seen both these things within the last few days. Nelson does die in the instant of victory; and a man named William does quite accidently murder a man named Williamson; it sounds like a sort of infanticide. In short, there is in...more
Chesterton made a man who is sharp-witted, dreamy, kind, hard, dumpy, odd, lovable... in short, who takes my attention and holds it tight. I LIKE Father Brown. I would love to be stuck next to him on a long airplane ride with nothing to do but talk.
There is nothing of the thriller about these mysteries. They are more pretty descriptions, a plot twist, and a philosophical musing, generally. They aren't keep-you-up-late stories, so much as curl-up-with-tea stories. But I like that in them, too.
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 and wide range of themes (far more depth then I usually expect from mysteries). 'The Complete Father Brown' is a volume packed with so much top-notch quality material that one read really only captures the...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 impression that Chesterton churned them out, occasionally pausing over insurmountable implausibilities and plot defects but then just moving on with a shrug. Even so, they are fully as clever as any television de...more
H. M. Snow
Father Brown is one of those fictional detectives you read and reread more for the philosophy than the mystery. As a short-story mystery writer, Chesterton doesn't "play fair"; he doesn't give the reader all the clues all the time. Often, you'll know who the criminal is before the crime has been committed. But Father Brown will continue as a classic for those who enjoy Chesterton's nonfiction, because he stands as the embodiment of those writings. He solves crimes in his head, not by the physica...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 the fact that people kept getting killed right under Father Brown's nose, my main problem was with the tone of the stories. A short, incomplete list of people who might be offended by these stories includ...more
Ari Joy
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 the snarls of the human soul can be like and get to, in the worst of times. Have we really forgotten so well?
I don't like to think of sin, but Father Brown makes me think of it in the most prosaic way,...more
Tastes change; I find that I don't enjoy the Father Brown stories as much as I used to, or as much as I thought I did.
I'm still a fan of G.K. Chesterton, and I do enjoy his invention of the dumpy little priest (we're never told his first name) who is able to solve crimes because he understands the criminal mind because he has heard it all in confession.
The stories get a little too fantastical for my tastes. Also, in a couple of them, language is used that is unacceptable by today's standards. It...more
I'm partway through the first section of these short stories. I wish I owned the book so I could finish it. It's huge and not designed to be read at a single sitting. Each mystery deserves to be savored alone. For this reason it makes a great book to put in the throne room (bathroom).

I probably won't get to finish it this time around, but when I find a copy at a yardsale I'll know to pick it up. And since the library has it, I may check it out again.

The psychological factors Father Brown underst...more
Jonathan Westbrook
After listening to one of the audio plays on my mp3 player, I thought I would read this quintessential little English priest's adventures through the world of crime. Been putting if off for a while but decided a new year would be a great time to start it.
Only after realizing that each story was just a few pages long, it was just one story after another of some little priest jumping to conclusions and everyone, including the culprit, just assuming God's man knows best and either giving themselv...more
Tim Gannon
Oh man, this was a little painful. This author was mentioned in another book I was reading. They indicated that this British author was one of the most influential of the first half of the 20th century. He has written over 100 books on varied subjects. I thought I would check it out. I found it simple, slow, no depth. It seemed to be written for young children. I guess that mystery novels have changed over the past 100 years and I am more a fan of present day writing for this genre.
Scott and Stephanie
Read and reread these mysteries. Appreciate Father Brown's insight into human nature and Chesterton's descriptions.
He's a catholic priest who solves mysteries. What more do you want?!!?!
Very boring and poorly written, this book is real disappointment. The fact that the stories have been written for publication in magazines rather than part of a book is very obvious: they have clearly been hastily written and poorly edited. And for anybody who liked the BBC series, it has neither the charm nor even any the main characters beside Father Brown. Some of the stories in the series do indeed come from the book (I haven't been able to finish it, so maybe I missed a few), but the plots...more
Justin  K. Rivers
The Father Brown stories are brilliant and unique in mystery lit. Chesterton's vast imagination is supported by his usual wit and obsession with paradox. At the heart of the stories lies an understated anti-hero. With the character of Father Brown, Chesterton avoids the melodramatic extremes of Poirot or Holmes, and yet does not provide us with the psychological intimacy in the way Simenon does with Maigret. It's an interesting mixture, and I think mystery fans will enjoy that the mysteries them...more
I LOVE this collection of short stories. To me, they are best read in fall and winter, when the light reflects the skies that Chesterton describes so vividly. In fact, that is my favorite part of these books! Chesterton cleverly uses light and color in every story. There are almost eery descriptions of the British landscapes that match the mood and evoke the themes: shadows and jewel tones that reveal the hidden self... the golden hues that speak of glory in the mundane... and the clear brightne...more
Christopher Bunn
I find myself reading Chesterton's Father Brown stories very slowly. Not because they're boring or poorly written. On the contrary. Chesterton is an incredibly adept writer. He had an amazing facility with the English language, surpassed by very few. Rather, I end up reading the stories slowly because there is so much layered meaning in them, wonderful turns of phrase that must be savored like sipping wine.

I've been a fan of Chesterton for a long time, ever since reading The Man Who Was Thursday...more
The Complete Father Brown has the five published books of his stories together with one loose story published other than in the original books. This volume is not something to be read through in one shot, but rather to be savoured. With that in mind I have now completed the second of the five books.

One minor complaint is that I wish there was a little more to each of the stories, that is in terms of how Father Brown puts things together. His explanations are a little hurried at times. Notwithsta...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 someone is often angsting about the book offending entire classes of people. I find I would rather read an old book that assumes women are weak than a new book that assumes they must be sexually aggressive...more
Kai de Lang
The various stories of Father Brown were all fascinating and surprising, yet mysterious and amazingly written. G.K.Chesterton did an excellent job with describing certain characters, organizing his plot, and leaving unnoticeable details/clues that later lead to the answer of the murder.
The physical description of our Father Brown creates the "humor" behind each story, too, because he really doesn't seem like a smart detective - on the contrary, Father Brown is just a "small, chubby man, with ey...more
There are better mystery writers. Indeed there are better 19th century British mystery writers, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie.

But can you think of another writer who so skillfully melds the Whodunit with moral philosophy and theology?

There is only one writer who would even attempt to do this--he is G.K. Chesterton.

This complete collection of all of the Fr. Brown short stories is a masterwork of intelligent theological fiction. The central character--a short dumpy moon faced...more
Cydni Perkins
I find myself absolutely loving these stories despite their flaws, or maybe even because of them. I love the character of Father Brown even though he is not perfect. He (or maybe Chesterton) is a bit xenophobic, and is intensely freaked out by any religions that aren't Christianity. Any predominantly Christian country that is not England, he regards with a sort of amused respect, and their residents are portrayed as a mixed bag of simple folk, geniuses, total weirdos, good honest people, loyal f...more
Stan Bebbington
I read most of the Father Brown stories in the fifties whilst vegetating in a bed-sit in London. On re-reading I found they had not travelled well. Murder and mayhem in country houses is no longer de rigeur for budding crime writers. Most of the houses are run by the National Trust, hardly conducive to mayhem and in my experience murder would be unthinkable as it would make such a mess on the carefully tended furniture and fittings. Violence has shifted to the streets.The plots are excessively e...more
Still reading this - since it's a collection of short stories, I am able to take a break, read other books, and come back to pick it up. Father Brown is a delightfully engaging character with amazing character perceptions. I think it most interesting that Chesterton has made Father Brown so perfect so he's not nearly as interesting as the other characters. In this way, Chesterton swings the scope from endearing Father Brown to the more complicated, conflicted characters with whom Father Brown...more
Some of these stories are magnificent (by and large, the earlier ones). My favorite one is "The Queer Feet." Just read it and find out. Brilliant. However, as time went on Chesteron seems to have become more and more of a bigot, and this shows in the Father Brown stories. They become annoyingly preachy, and what's even more inexcusable for detective stories: predictably preachy. In the best stories, Father Brown solves the mystery through his transcendental insight and imagination. In the worst...more
The mysteries themselves were well plotted and interesting. However, the main character of Father Brown is still a stranger to me after reading the whole collection. Chesterton describes the scenery and the suspects with amazing prose and precision, but hardly delves into the personality, character or origin of the priest at all.
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) cannot be summed up in one sentence. Nor in one paragraph. In fact, in spite of the fine biographies that have been written of him (and his Autobiography), he has never been captured between the covers of one book. But rather than waiting to separate the goats from the sheep, let’s just come right out and say it: G.K. Chesterton was the best writer of the twent...more
More about G.K. Chesterton...
The Man Who Was Thursday Orthodoxy The Innocence of Father Brown The Everlasting Man The Man Who Knew Too Much

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“In short, there is in life an element of elfin coincidence which people reckoning on the prosaic may perpetually miss.” 0 likes
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