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The Innocence of Father Brown

(Father Brown #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  13,735 ratings  ·  999 reviews
Chesterton portrays Father Brown as a short, stumpy Roman Catholic priest, with shapeless clothes and a large umbrella, and an uncanny insight into human evil. "How in Tartarus," cried Flambeau, "did you ever hear of the spiked bracelet?" -- "Oh, one's little flock, you know!" said Father Brown, arching his eyebrows rather blankly. "When I was a curate in Hartlepool, there ...more
Paperback, 232 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Wildside Press (first published 1911)
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Daniel Gill I started reading the stories because of the TV series, and having just finished the first season of the show and the first volume of the stories, I c…moreI started reading the stories because of the TV series, and having just finished the first season of the show and the first volume of the stories, I can say I appreciate both greatly. As others have said, the TV series is inpired by the character and largely does not adapt the plots directly. There are ways in which I think the TV series properly refines the character of father Brown and ways in which I think Chesterton's portrayal remains superior. There's an explicit consideration of spiritual and religious matters in the stories that is subdued or even absent in the TV series, while at the same time in the TV series Father Brown is given space and time to actually empathize and counsel the victims and perpetrators he encounters to a degree i find lacking in the stories, which seem to me to omit this element due to length constraints more than anything. (less)

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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  13,735 ratings  ·  999 reviews

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Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cosy-crime, 2018, classic
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 ...more
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 ...more
Jul 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mystery fans
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 ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1), G.K. Chesterton
Father Brown is a fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur detective who is featured in 53 short stories published between 1910 and 1936 written by English novelist G. K. Chesterton. Father Brown solves mysteries and crimes using his intuition and keen understanding of human nature. Chesterton describes Father Brown as a short, stumpy Roman Catholic priest, with shapeless clothes, a large umbrella, and an uncanny insight into hum
Feb 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
May 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
These twelve tales of murder and theft, written in 1910 and 1911, introduce G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown, a short, humble, unprepossessing Catholic priest and amateur detective, whose method is informed by what he has learned about criminal motives and means during many years in the confessional.

Chief of the Paris Police Department Aristide Valentin and master criminal Hercule Flambeau both appear in the first story, The Blue Cross; their paths take surprising turns. Another surprise to me is
Dec 20, 2008 rated it liked it
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
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
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Paul  Perry
I adore G.K. Chesterton, and he annoys the hell out of me.

He was an incredibly smart thinker, and a writer of enormous talents, but he seems to have a knack of rubbing me up the wrong way. His Father Brown stories are a perfect case in point. They are detective stories with almost no action, in which everything is told not shown - typically, our eponymous investigator arrives at the scene of a crime and, usually after the police have jumped the obvious, and wrong, conclusion, he elucidates the f
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
Yigal Zur
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
lovely book. still
Tristram Shandy
“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)
Jesse Broussard
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Amy by: Samuel Tran
Shelves: detection-club
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 ...more
Oct 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: ebook, gutenberg, drama
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
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
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 @,, & local library. TTS-enabled.
Audio versions:
-USA ver. free @ Librivox & library.
-Brit ver. @ ($).

British audio sounds
Mafalda Fernandes
- The Blue Cross - 4.5*
- The Secret Garden - 4.5*
- The Queer Feet - 4.5*
- The Flying Stars - 4*
- The Invisible Man- 4.5*
- The Honour of Israel Gow - 4*
- The Wrong Shape - 4.5*
- The Sins of Prince Saradine - 4.5*
- The Hammer of God - 4.5*
- The Eye of Apollo - 4.5*
- The Sign of the Broken Sword - 4.5*
- The Three Tools of Death - 4*
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
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
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2020
A mystery to me...

This is the first collection of Chesterton’s stories about the little Catholic priest who not only solves inexplicable mysteries but also cures souls as he goes along. There are twelve stories and I made it through almost four of them before I decided I’d rather be cleaning the cats’ litter tray.

Sometimes when I dislike a popular book or author, I can see why the world loves them even although I don’t. But not with Father Brown, I fear. Nonsensical plots, frequently poor writin
Dwayne Roberts
Short stories demonstrating the observational and deductive capacities of amateur detective Father Brown.

Okay, and sometimes clever, but dated and wordy.
Jazzy Lemon
5 stars cos i'll read it again, or would like to.

12 vingnettes, short stories, however unlikely to actually happen, are quite pleasant and paint a lovely picture of the man called Father Brown.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Andrés Diplotti
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 30, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: bigots
Shelves: battle-of-wits
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 ...more
Dec 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
G.K. Chesterton's empathetic little detective seems like an unabtrusive Edwardian counterpoint to Sherlock Holmes. While Sherlock Holmes ability to adapt allows him to escape both time and place (House to Sherlock to Elementary), Father Brown is (like Catholicism itself) almost tied to man's fallen state and the early 20th century. That being said, there are many of Chesterton's stories which I solidly prefer to Doyle's. Chesterton's prose, his love of paradox, his appreciation for humility, his ...more
Grace Crandall
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was born in London, educated at St. Paul’s, and went to art school at University College London. In 1900, he was asked to contribute a few magazine articles on art criticism, and went on to become one of the most prolific writers of all time. He wrote a hundred books, contributions to 200 more, hundreds of poems, including the epic Ballad of the White Horse, fi ...more

Other books in the series

Father Brown (5 books)
  • The Wisdom of Father Brown (Father Brown, #2)
  • The Incredulity of Father Brown (Father Brown, #3)
  • The Secret of Father Brown (Father Brown, #4)
  • The Scandal of Father Brown (Father Brown, #5)

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