The Ball and the Cross DNF@10% ★★☆☆☆

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Title: The Ball and the Cross DNF@10%
Series: ———-
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Christian Allegory/Mysticism
Pages: DNF @29
Words: DNF @8K


The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare ★★☆☆☆

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Title: The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Christian Allegory
Pages: 215
Words: 58K


From Wikipedia

In Victorian-era London, Gabriel Syme is recruited at Scotland Yard to a secret anti-anarchist police corps. Lucian Gregory, an anarchistic poet, lives in the suburb of Saffron Park. Syme meets him at a party and they debate the meaning of poetry. Gregory argues that revolt is the basis of poetry. Syme demurs, insisting the essence of poetry is not revolution but law. He antagonises Gregory by asserting that the most poetical of human creations is the timetable for the London Underground. He suggests Gregory isn’t really serious about anarchism, which so irritates Gregory that he takes Syme to an underground anarchist meeting place, under oath not to disclose its existence to anyone, revealing his public endorsement of anarchy is a ruse to make him seem harmless, when in fact he is an influential member of the local chapter of the European anarchist council.

The central council consists of seven men, each using the name of a day of the week as a cover; the position of Thursday is about to be elected by Gregory’s local chapter. Gregory expects to win the election but just before, Syme reveals to Gregory after an oath of secrecy that he is a secret policeman. In order to make Syme think that the anarchists are harmless after all, Gregory speaks very unconvincingly to the local chapter, so that they feel that he is not zealous enough for the job. Syme makes a rousing anarchist speech in which he denounces everything that Gregory has said and wins the vote. He is sent immediately as the chapter’s delegate to the central council.

In his efforts to thwart the council, Syme eventually discovers that five of the other six members are also undercover detectives; each was employed just as mysteriously and assigned to defeat the Council. They soon find out they were fighting each other and not real anarchists; such was the mastermind plan of their president, Sunday. In a surreal conclusion, Sunday is unmasked as only seeming to be an anarchist; in fact, he is a proponent of state power like the detectives. Sunday is unable to give an answer to the question of why he caused so much trouble and pain for the detectives. Gregory, the only real anarchist, seems to challenge the false council. His accusation is that they, as rulers, have never suffered like Gregory and their other subjects and so their power is illegitimate. Syme refutes the accusation immediately, because of the terrors inflicted by Sunday on the rest of the council.

The dream ends when Sunday is asked if he has ever suffered. His last words, “can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”, is the question Jesus asks St. James and St. John in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 10, vs 38–39, a rhetorical question intended to demonstrate that the disciples are wrong to covet his glory because they are unable to bear the suffering for the sins of the world for which he is destined.

My Thoughts:

Man, how I have changed in 20 years. Much like my review of The Napolean of Notting Hill, I found that this time around I did not enjoy this book by Chesterton nearly so much as I did in my early 20’s. Part of that is that I’ve been exposed to a much wider school of Christian Apologetics and Thought but another part is that I am now comfortable with myself in what I like or do not like.

And the fact of the matter is that I do not like Chesterton’s style. It doesn’t mean it is good or bad but that I simply do not like it. I suspect I would not have liked him as a man either though and thus the good/bad debate has to be thrown out. Plus, I don’t like poetry and Chesterton starts the book off with a poem.

I have now read enough to figure that Chesterton is most likely not for me. I’m going to try one more book by him just to be sure but am not holding out any hope that he’ll suddenly change and become an appealing author to me.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill ★★★☆☆

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Title: The Napoleon of Notting Hill
Series: ———-
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Absurdist Fantasy
Pages: 203
Words: 55K


From Wikipedia & Me

The dreary succession of randomly selected Kings of England is broken up when Auberon Quin, who cares for nothing but a good joke, is chosen. To amuse himself, he institutes elaborate costumes for the provosts of the districts of London. All are bored by the King’s antics except for one earnest young man who takes the cry for regional pride seriously – Adam Wayne, the eponymous Napoleon of Notting Hill.

The books ends many years later after Wayne initiates a city wide war and has changed how people view their countries again. The king finally realizes Wayne was taking his little joke as serious as sin and is both appalled and astounded.

My Thoughts:

When I read this back in ’01 I read it as simply a funny story devoid of all external meaning or even internal meaning. I enjoyed it tremendously back then.

This time around, having read more of Chesterton and having more life experience, it was obvious that Chesterton was writing his ideas into the story. Unfortunately for me, they all went sailing right over my head. Nothing written here held any deeper meaning for me and whenever it was obvious that Chesterton was talking through his characters, what was actually said was so convoluted, so “artistic” (I say that with a sneer, not in a good way), so papered over with his own cleverness that any meaning was lost to me.

If you’re going to tell a story, tell a story. If you’re going to preach, write a non-fiction book. I am one of those people who can look at a great painting and all I see is a collection of paint blobs, no artistic merit or something transcendent that moves the soul. If I was a Dickens story, I’d be the villain who cuts down the beautiful forest to put up housing for 100 people while the hero, a drug addled, wife abusing, useless scum of an artist waxes poetical about the loss of his muse.

It comes down to me simply not understanding one bit what Chesterton was trying to say with this story. I would consider this a better book if he’d just told a story about a crazy king and someone who took him seriously, and the hijinks that ensued. Instead there is war, death and a return to tribalism.

I am not hating my time with Chesterton but I have to admit, I was really hoping for a bit more enjoyment out of my time with him. Well, I’ll keep on chugging on.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Uncollected Father Brown Stories ★★✬☆☆

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Title: The Uncollected Father Brown Stories
Series: Father Brown #6
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 75
Words: 20K


Table of Contents

The Donnington Affair

The Mask of Midas

My Thoughts:

“….you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
~ Revelation 3:15b-16

One week after finishing this collection of 2 stories I can’t remember a thing about them. The Father Brown stories had started to wear on me so I was looking forward to a much shorter experience, but I wasn’t expecting something so completely bland that I forgot it right after reading it.

There was nothing bad but there was nothing good, hence the Bible verse. Thank goodness the Father Brown stories are done!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The Scandal of Father Brown ★★★☆☆

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Title: The Scandal of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #5
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 239
Words: 65K


Table of Contents

The Scandal of Father Brown

The Quick One

The Blast of the Book

The Green Man

The Pursuit of Mr Blue

The Crime of the Communist

The Point of a Pin

The Insoluble Problem

The Vampire of the Village

My Thoughts:

While not bad, I really didn’t enjoy my read this time. I don’t know if there was more, but I noticed the fact that Father Brown would almost like clockwork make a vague announcement and then express surprise when everyone would proceed on that statement in the logical direction the statement was leading. He’d then explain why they were all wrong and why his statement was still correct. But in a sense that nobody but himself would EVER have thought of.

Plus, I’ve not read the word “Puritan” or some derivative so many times in one novel. Not even the Scarlet Letter ranted against them as much! Apparently wanting to take care of your body by not ingesting various poisons that we all know will kill you is a sure-fire way of being a kill-joy and kill-joys are Satan’s minions. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but it was pretty obvious Chesterton had a thing against Protestants. It was really annoying by the end.

This was the last Father Brown novel in this Chesterton omnibus and I am glad. Like several other mystery writers I have been reading, I’d reached my limit even with judicious spacing out. We’ll have to see what I think of his other writings. I am looking forward to them because despite all my grumblings about Father Brown, I still think they are good writing. They just need to be read at a much greater length (like one a year perhaps) than I was willing to go.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Secret of Father Brown (Father Brown #4) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Secret of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #4
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 218
Words: 63K


Table of Contents

  • “The Secret of Father Brown” (framing story)
  • “The Mirror of the Magistrate”
  • “The Man with Two Beards”
  • “The Song of the Flying Fish”
  • “The Actor and the Alibi”
  • “The Vanishing of Vaudrey”
  • “The Worst Crime in the World”
  • “The Red Moon of Meru”
  • “The Chief Mourner of Marne”
  • “The Secret of Flambeau” (framing story)
My Thoughts:

Wikipedia totally let me down for this book. While it has had synopses for the previous book collections of short stories, there was no entry for this compilation. Makes me wonder how the people there can sleep easy at night, knowing they abandoned me in my hour of need. Not only that, they also let down every single one of you who is reading this. You expected a snapshot of the stories contained in this book and what do you get? Just a lousy TOC. My goodness, I hope you are properly outraged at this disturbing display of laziness and lack of hard work. I know I am!

Shame, shame, shame.

As I noted in my “CR&Q: The Secret of Father Brown” post, this book felt like it encapsulated the essence of Father Brown and what Chesterton was trying to convey through him. While Chesterton and I disagree on some things, maybe even big things (he was a staunch Roman Catholic and I’m a 7th Day Adventist), our views on God certainly do align. And not just on God the Father but the entire Trinity, which is how it should be.

Therefore as I was reading these stories, instead of viewing them as a mystery story, or a story about Justice Here and Now (which is one of the issues Chesterton and I differ on), I viewed them through the lense of knowing people as individuals and not as a class or type. As is written in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Once someone realizes their proper place before God and what Christ’s sacrifice has truly done, how they interact and view the rest of humanity is going to change. But the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is absolutely essential. If I just take the first part, that we are all sinners and cannot live up to the perfect standard that God has requires (it’s not an arbitrary line He drew in the sand, it is part of His very character), then chances are that I’ll either start enslaving other humans, because why not, they’re scum destined for hell so why not start hell a little early for them, OR I’ll become an arrogant asshat thinking how much better I am than them (ie, the Pharisee who prayed and thanked God that he wasn’t like “that” tax collector next to him). But once I realize the universe shattering revelation of Christ’s sacrifice, every person I meet has to be treated like the object of God’s love and sacrifice, because they are.

Christians can spend their entire lives learning this lesson and letting the Holy Spirit (the third person of the Trinity) imprint it on their hearts and minds. Some of us do better than others. But this collection of stories reminded me, again, that Christ didn’t die just for me, but for every single individual person in the entire world, past, present and future. It is humbling and encouraging all at the same time.

The fact that this book got me thinking along these lines is why it got 4stars. It was better than some of the so-called devotionals I’ve read in the past.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Currently Reading & Quote: The Secret of Father Brown

This is a very long multi-paragraph quote so I’m going to place it after I’ve said my piece instead of before as per the normal. This quote really seems to encapsulate Father Brown. It is very personal and shows how Father Brown views humanity in the same way that God does. Not as a collective lump to be categorized and labeled into groups, but as individuals and people to be known and loved. I guess I think this section is relevant is because it expresses how the Creator of the Universe itself feels about me and about you. Until we have a proper understanding of how God views us, we are going to have some seriously twisted views of God Himself. There are a lot of implications from that that carry over into how we act and feel in real life, but that’s getting a bit off topic.

So without further ado, here’s the passage:

The interviewing instinct awoke, tactful but tense. If he did try to draw Father Brown, as if he were a tooth, it was done with the most dexterous and painless American dentistry.

They were sitting in a sort of partly unroofed outer court of the house, such as often forms the entrance to Spanish houses. It was dusk turning to dark; and as all that mountain air sharpens suddenly after sunset, a small stove stood on the flagstones, glowing with red eyes like a goblin, and painting a red pattern on the pavement; but scarcely a ray of it reached the lower bricks of the great bare, brown brick wall that went soaring up above them into the deep blue night. Flambeau’s big broad-shouldered figure and great moustaches, like sabres, could be traced dimly in the twilight, as he moved about, drawing dark wine from a great cask and handing it round. In his shadow, the priest looked very shrunken and small, as if huddled over the stove; but the American visitor leaned forward elegantly with his elbow on his knee and his fine pointed features in the full light; his eyes shone with inquisitive intelligence.

“I can assure you, sir,” he was saying, “we consider your achievement in the matter of the Moonshine Murder the most remarkable triumph in the history of detective science.”

Father Brown murmured something; some might have imagined that the murmur was a little like a moan.

“We are well acquainted,” went on the stranger firmly, “with the alleged achievements of Dupin and others; and with those of Lecoq, Sherlock Holmes, Nicholas Carter, and other imaginative incarnations of the craft. But we observe there is in many ways, a marked difference between your own method of approach and that of these other thinkers, whether fictitious or actual. Some have spec’lated, sir, as to whether the difference of method may perhaps involve rather the absence of method.”

Father Brown was silent; then he started a little, almost as if he had been nodding over the stove, and said: “I beg your pardon. Yes. . .. Absence of method. . . . Absence of mind, too, I’m afraid.”

“I should say of strictly tabulated scientific method,” went on the inquirer. “Edgar Poe throws off several little essays in a conversational form, explaining Dupin’s method, with its fine links of logic. Dr. Watson had to listen to some pretty exact expositions of Holmes’s method with its observation of material details. But nobody seems to have got on to any full account of your method, Father Brown, and I was informed you declined the offer to give a series of lectures in the States on the matter.”

“Yes,” said the priest, frowning at the stove; “I declined.”

“Your refusal gave rise to a remarkable lot of interesting talk,” remarked Chace. “I may say that some of our people are saying your science can’t be expounded, because it’s something more than just natural science. They say your secret’s not to be divulged, as being occult in its character.”

“Being what?” asked Father Brown, rather sharply.

“Why, kind of esoteric,” replied the other. “I can tell you, people got considerably worked up about Gallup’s murder, and Stein’s murder, and then old man Merton’s murder, and now Judge Gwynne’s murder, and a double murder by Dalmon, who was well known in the States. And there were you, on the spot every time, slap in the middle of it; telling everybody how it was done and never telling anybody how you knew. So some people got to think you knew without looking, so to speak. And Carlotta Brownson gave a lecture on Thought-Forms with illustrations from these cases of yours. The Second Sight Sisterhood of Indianapolis — —”

Father Brown, was still staring at the stove; then he said quite loud yet as if hardly aware that anyone heard him: “Oh, I say. This will never do.”

“I don’t exactly know how it’s to be helped,” said Mr. Chace humorously. “The Second Sight Sisterhood want a lot of holding down. The only way I can think of stopping it is for you to tell us the secret after all.”

Father Brown groaned. He put his head on his hands and remained a moment, as if full of a silent convulsion of thought. Then he lifted his head and said in a dull voice:

“Very well. I must tell the secret.”

His eyes rolled darkly over the whole darkling scene, from the red eyes of the little stove to the stark expanse of the ancient wall, over which were standing out, more and more brightly, the strong stars of the south.

“The secret is,” he said; and then stopped as if unable to go on. Then he began again and said:

“You see, it was I who killed all those people.”

“What?” repeated the other, in a small voice out of a vast silence.

“You see, I had murdered them all myself,” explained Father Brown patiently. “So, of course, I knew how it was done.”

Grandison Chace had risen to his great height like a man lifted to the ceiling by a sort of slow explosion. Staring down at the other he repeated his incredulous question.

“I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully,” went on Father Brown, “I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done, and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was.”

Chace gradually released a sort of broken sigh.

“You frightened me all right,” he said. “For the minute I really did think you meant you were the murderer. Just for the minute I kind of saw it splashed over all the papers in the States: ‘Saintly Sleuth Exposed as Killer: Hundred Crimes of Father Brown.’ Why, of course, if it’s just a figure of speech and means you tried to reconstruct the psychogy—”

Father Brown rapped sharply on the stove with the short pipe he was about to fill; one of his very rare spasms of annoyance contracted his face.

“No, no, no,” he said, almost angrily; “I don’t mean just a figure of speech. This is what comes of trying to talk about deep things. . . . What’s the good of words . . .? If you try to talk about a truth that’s merely moral, people always think it’s merely metaphorical. A real live man with two legs once said to me: ‘I only believe in the Holy Ghost in a spiritual sense.’ Naturally, I said: ‘In what other sense could you believe it?’ And then he thought I meant he needn’t believe in anything except evolution, or ethical fellowship, or some bilge. . . . I mean that I really did see myself, and my real self, committing the murders. I didn’t actually kill the men by material means; but that’s not the point. Any brick or bit of machinery might have killed them by material means. I mean that I thought and thought about how a man might come to be like that, until I realized that I really was like that, in everything except actual final consent to the action. It was once suggested to me by a friend of mine, as a sort of religious exercise. I believe he got it from Pope Leo XIII, who was always rather a hero of mine.”

“I’m afraid,” said the American, in tones that were still doubtful, and keeping his eye on the priest rather as if he were a wild animal, “that you’d have to explain a lot to me before I knew what you were talking about. The science of detection — —”

Father Brown snapped his fingers with the same animated annoyance. “That’s it,” he cried; “that’s just where we part company. Science is a grand thing when you can get it; in its real sense one of the grandest words in the world. But what do these men mean, nine times out of ten, when they use it nowadays? When they say detection is a science? When they say criminology is a science? They mean getting outside a man and studying him as if he were a gigantic insect: in what they would call a dry impartial light, in what I should call a dead and dehumanized light. They mean getting a long way off him, as if he were a distant prehistoric monster; staring at the shape of his ‘criminal skull’ as if it were a sort of eerie growth, like the horn on a rhinoceros’s nose. When the scientist talks about a type, he never means himself, but always his neighbour; probably his poorer neighbour. I don’t deny the dry light may sometimes do good; though in one sense it’s the very reverse of science. So far from being knowledge, it’s actually suppression of what we know. It’s treating a friend as a stranger, and pretending that something familiar is really remote and mysterious. It’s like saying that a man has a proboscis between the eyes, or that he falls down in a fit of insensibility once every twenty-four hours. Well, what you call ‘the secret’ is exactly the opposite. I don’t try to get outside the man. I try to get inside the murderer. . . . Indeed it’s much more than that, don’t you see? I am inside a man. I am always inside a man, moving his arms and legs; but I wait till I know I am inside a murderer, thinking his thoughts, wrestling with his passions; till I have bent myself into the posture of his hunched and peering hatred; till I see the world with his bloodshot and squinting eyes, looking between the blinkers of his half-witted concentration; looking up the short and sharp perspective of a straight road to a pool of blood. Till I am really a murderer.”

The Incredulity of Father Brown (Father Brown #3) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Incredulity of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #3
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 262
Words: 71K


From Wikipedia

The 8 stories in this collection are:

“The Resurrection of Father Brown”

“The Arrow of Heaven”

“The Oracle of the Dog”

“The Miracle of Moon Crescent”

“The Curse of the Golden Cross”

“The Dagger with Wings”

“The Doom of the Darnaways”

“The Ghost of Gideon Wise”

The Resurrection of Father Brown

The scene begins with an American journalist named Paul Snaith critically assessing Father Brown’s church and the other clerics there. He quickly changes his mind to please the famous businessman, Mendoza, who walks in with a lavish respect for the Church. Snaith then goes on a journalistic quest to make Father Brown’s name great. Meanwhile in South America, Brown quickly begins to resent his growing fame and after dealing with his likewise growing workload (including endorsing a wine for a man named Eckstein and responding to a letter from a political rival named Alvarez), he goes out on a walk at night. During this walk, as he passes under a bridge, he is attacked by two mysterious men and left injured or killed.

The story shifts over to John Adams Race, an electrical engineer from America who was hired by Mendoza to improve the same small South American town in which Father Brown resides. Race, Chesterton says, is a man who is firmly attached to his Protestant and American background, despite not particularly being devoted to them, and in spite of himself, Race sees in Father Brown a reminder of what he loves about his upbringing. The story flashes back to show Race looking out his window to see Father Brown pass by in the night, soon followed by two other men. Race identifies these men as Eckstein and Dr. Calderon, a physician who attended to Mendoza. Race follows the two men out of suspicion, and immediately after they both disappear under the bridge after Brown does, where there are sounds of a fight.

A mob gathers around the scene and identifies Father Brown to be dead. As Race nears the bridge, Snaith comes out to confirm the story and describe what appears to have happened. As Race looks at the body of Brown, Alvarez, who is also near the body quickly claims to have no part in the murder. Mendoza and Dr. Calderon enter the scene as well, and again pronounce Father Brown dead.

A funeral is held for the simple priest, in which Mendoza decides to give a long, drawn-out speech. In his ramblings, he attacks all atheists, and is soon in a fiery argument with Alvarez, who rages against resurrection of the dead in part of his argument. Snaith silences the two by claiming that Father Brown is beginning to move. Father Brown then sits up and the mob attending the funeral becomes a frenzy of excitement about the event. Father Brown tries without success to calm the crowd, but when he is unable, he runs to the telegraph office to send to the Bishop’s secretary that there was no miracle that had happened.

John Race walks Father Brown back to the church, where Brown begins to attempt to solve his own murder case.

As Brown describes his assault, he seems to indicate that it was faked. He says the weapons used against him never actually hit him, but instead he seemed to collapse and faint of some unknown source. He mentions to Race that the wine from Eckstein may have been drugged, and Race, who started as a druggist before coming to engineering, confirms the suspicion. In a flash of intuition, Brown realizes the schemes of his would-be murderers and recounts the details to Race. The plan was to fake the priest’s death, then debunk it in order to show Brown as a sham. Brown concludes, saying he must go thank God that he was saved from disgrace and that he had so quickly contacted the Bishop with an unknowing counter-claim to the antagonists’ plot against him and inviting Race to a drink of un-drugged wine.

The Arrow of Heaven

The story opens with Father Brown stepping off of a ship into America. He is immediately assaulted by journalists, then finally, upon answering their many questions, spoke with a tall man in goggles. The man asked if Brown was looking for “Captain Wain” and introduced himself as Norman Drage. The goggled man rambled on a little while and the simple priest was left very confused. Soon the two were driving with Captain Peter Wain down the road, as Wain and Drage recounted stories of two recent murders connected with a mystical “Coptic cup” by a notorious man known only as Daniel Doom.

An associate of Wain’s uncle came into possession of this cup; the man was named Merton. As Wain explains, the previous two owners began receiving threatening letters from Doom before their murders, and at the death of the last victim, the widow was forced to sell many possessions the family had owned; Merton apparently purchased this cup, and presumably has begun to receive threatening letters.

When the three arrive at Merton’s enormous mansion, just as they are about to enter, Drage stops and says that Merton would be too happy to see him, and leaves. Father Brown is curious at this behavior and as he surveys the house, notes with a surprise how thoroughly guarded it is. Wain describes how important Merton is to the world and how vital it is that he is protected while Father Brown laments how caged he must be.

As the pair is about to go into a safe-room to meet with Mr. Merton, Wain’s uncle (Crake) and Merton’s lawyer walk out, having just talked with him about business for a while. Soon Mr. Wilton (the secretary to Mr. Merton) comes out of the safe room to announce that Merton will be available in ten minutes. He also tells the priest of Merton’s schedule and of having only fifteen minutes alone every day to worship the Coptic Cup. He brags of the defenses he apparently devised to protect Merton and claims them to be near- impenetrable. After Brown comments that Wilton seems to be more intent on catching the murderer than saving Merton, the secretary reveals that one of the previous victims of Daniel Doom was his father, so he means to protect Merton, but is very personally connected with catching the killer.

Father Brown remarks that it is time to go in to speak with the millionaire, and as he walks into the inner room, he reveals Merton to have been shot with an arrow and murdered.

Crake, having a history with Red Indian war tactics, along with his nephew Captain Wain, are implied to be suspects of Father Brown’s search to find the murderer and over the course of a few weeks, he speaks with each of them. Potentially, Wain flew a plane over or near the mansion, while his uncle shot Merton with an arrow through an open window. Both men are astounded to realize Brown’s possible story of the event, but the priest refuses to comment on his thoughts.

Soon a conversation with Drage ensues. Whereas previously he was very finely dressed and upbeat, he is now bitter and appears to be clothed much more shabbily. He seems glad that Mr. Merton has died, and praises old Eastern technology and religion that more or less would have helped kill him. Brown quickly dismisses the possibility of Drage having killed Merton, leaving Drage shocked at Brown’s statement that he had needed the victim and would never have killed him.

After another interlude, Father Brown meets with a council of many people who had contact with Merton. There he debunks the idea that Drage could have killed the man, and instead claims that the arrow that was found in the victim most likely had been used to stab him, and later configured to appear as if it had been shot. Further, the priest explains that Wain and Crake could not have been the murderer either. He breaks in to then say that after speaking to Wilton, that Wilton had killed Doom in some wild struggle. Everyone in the room applauds Wilton’s brash justice.

After much questioning, Father Brown reveals that Merton had been Daniel Doom and that Wilton, having hunted for so long to find him, finally killed him in vengeance of his father. The group becomes conflicted and angry, and Brown comments on the necessity of consistency in the case, pausing to mention that by now, Wilton is long gone.

The Oracle of the Dog

In the beginning of this story, Father Brown is petting a dog, next to a young man named Fiennes. The young man informs him of a recent murder and shows him a newspaper clipping describing the details of the case.

A man named Colonel Druce was murdered in his summer home on the coast of Yorkshire. Apparently, he was stabbed to death in his room, but the murder weapon is nowhere to be found. His son, daughter, and secretary all had no idea the murder took place, despite the home having only one entrance down a straight path through the garden. A man named Dr. Valentine (fiance of Miss Druce) was nearby and Druce’s lawyer Aubrey Traill had just met with the Colonel, and both confirmed this story as well. Shortly after Traill met with the Colonel, his daughter came in to see him, only to find his body on the ground.

Fiennes reveals he had been walking a dog with Druce’s nephews (Herbert and Harry) near the summer house when the man was murdered. He describes the secretary and the lawyer to Brown, and then goes on to tell of how ominous the walk felt and how the dog howled at just the moment before Druce’s daughter found the body, when previously it had been chasing a walking stick that Harry Druce had thrown into the water. As Fiennes and the nephews neared the house, Fiennes reports that Traill was just leaving and looked happy when normally he was downcast or unpleasant. Just then the dog had started barking furiously at the lawyer, who seemed to flee away.

The priest jumps up after this description and scolds Fiennes for being superstitious and believing that a dog could condemn a man. Fiennes argues by saying that the lawyer had a tie pin that potentially could have fit a stiletto into it. He then goes on to say that one of the nephews who was with him (Harry) had former training as a detective. Harry had seen the dog growl at a few people before, including the secretary (Patrick Floyd), and growling was a better predictor of a dog’s anger than barking. Additionally, Harry had found blood on the shears Floyd was using to trim the garden at the time.

At Brown’s prompting, Fiennes further reveals that Traill had been in the house to help revise the Colonel’s will and that the original witnesses of the signing were Dr. Valentine and the secretary. The secretary had gotten angry with Dr. Valentine for having changed his name at some point, which invalidated the will, to which Valentine made a comment attacking Americans. Druce was very angry at the doctor for this, and later Miss Druce and the doctor were seen whispering to each other something about murder.

Brown suggests perhaps the couple had worked together to kill the Colonel (the will was primarily favoring the daughter), at which Fiennes is appalled. Brown says he cannot do much to actually uncover the situation, but that Fiennes should continue searching and perhaps speak again with Harry Druce.

Several days later, Fiennes comes back, reporting Harry Druce to have committed suicide. Brown states that it was likely to have been the course of action after young Druce realized he had killed his uncle for nothing, after not having been written into the will. Fiennes is aghast and asks Brown to explain the murder.

As Brown describes it, the change of name by the doctor was from a French noble’s title to the old family surname (Brown had heard of the family before). As a point of French etiquette, he considered challenging the secretary to a duel because of the debate of his name, while the Colonel’s daughter tried to dissuade him from this.

Brown tells of how important the dog was to solving the crime, to which Fiennes remarks that it is surprising for him to suddenly trust in the instincts of a dog. The priest mentions that if people were not as superstitious about dogs as they were, then the animals could be used to actually help. He lays out the type of men that the secretary and the lawyer were: nervous, jumpy men; the type to scare suddenly and cut themselves on garden sheers when a girl screams, as well as the type that dogs would instinctively distrust.

Dogs are very straightforward, he says. They bark at people they do not like and people are afraid of dogs that do not like them. However, the murderer would have no fear of a witness who could not talk. Moreover, dogs pursue with everything they have in themselves. So the whine for not having found the walking stick that Harry Druce threw into the water was most likely because the stick had sunk and could not be found. That is, it had to house a sword used to kill the Colonel.

The Miracle of Moon Crescent

The story opens with a man named Warren Wynd sorting letters in an apartment in the town of Moon Crescent. Wynd is described to have an uncanny gift for snap decisions (apparently there is a story of him being approached by three beggars, two of which he immediately sent away, the third going on to be a useful personal assistant of his). A millionaire oil magnate named Silas Vandam is with him in the room, along with Wynd’s personal servant (Wilson) and private secretary (Fenner Collins). Soon, the man dismisses the three of them so he can attend to more work.

In the hall, a man named Alboin comes to speak with Wynd. He speaks of a new atheist religion that Wynd will want to know about. The secretary refuses him access, along with Father Brown who mysteriously appears as part of the group, with no explanation. Brown insists on getting into the room to ensure Wynd is alright, due to having spoken with a man he had helped previously who called some curse down upon Warren Wynd and after doing so, fired a blank shot under Wynd’s window.

Brown insists on checking, and Alboin soon strides forward to simply open the door. However, inside, Wynd is gone. Soon they call the authorities and answer questions until nightfall, at which point they leave and walk around Moon Crescent together. As they look into the distance, they see what appears to be a broken branch in a tree, but as the group gets closer to it, they soon recognize it to be the body of Wynd, who apparently hanged himself on the tree.

The police were soon pelting the group with questions again, making sure to avoid any superstition. Newspapers and magazines picked up the tale too, and attempted to give nearly the exact opposite effect, raving of Father Brown’s mysterious intuition and the superstitions involved in the group. The police hired a famous psychologist named Dr. Vair to speak with the witnesses in order to more accurately assess what happened in the events of Wynd’s death.

The professor begins to interrogate the group (without Father Brown) and attempts to convince them that Brown pulled some sort of trick in order to convince them to believe in a supernatural manner of Wynd’s death. Collins becomes fed up with these accusations of their apparent lunacy or whatever else, and brings the rest of the group to talk with the priest about why the events happened the way they did.

They bring Father Brown in to Wynd’s office a few days later to sign an official report of a miracle. They want Brown to sign first as an honor for having spotted it first; he politely refuses. The group is confounded and asks why, and Father Brown explains the whole event was in fact natural.

The shot, Brown explains, caused the victim to initially look out his window. Immediately, Wilson, who was a big strong man, from the floor above (where he was sent to collect papers) slipped a noose around Wynd’s neck and hoisted him up, killing him. An unknown third man likely helped to get the body out to the tree, far away from the apartment, where the group found him hanging. As Brown reveals, these men were likely the three homeless men that Wynd sized up many years ago and passed off without having known them.

The Curse of the Golden Cross

This mystery starts in the Moravia, a ship travelling to England. Immediately introduced are Professor Smaill and Lady Diana Wales, along with the ship’s register, Paul Tarrant. Also sitting at the table, Chesterton says, are Father Brown and a man named Leonard Smyth.

The group has a conversation on the Byzantine empire, Smaill’s specialty, and at the end, Brown points out that the professor mostly avoided the subject altogether. The professor seems to instantly trust Brown and launches into a description of some recently discovered tomb in Sussex. In it was found a special cross that has great importance to history, but a fabled curse as well. However, as he describes it, the curse seems more likely a conspiracy.

Smaill jumps into another tale of his own golden cross, the only one similar to the other that has just been uncovered. Upon finding it in a labyrinth in Greece, Smaill realized there was a man following him in the ancient catacombs. The man threatened him and promised that someday he would murder the professor, were the cross not given up. Every now and then, the man still sends the professor notes to tell him that the plans for murder are going well. Smaill describes him as a cold, methodical man, likely from the West, due to the detached sense of a collector simply trying to find the prize. With the discovery of the new cross, the mad-man apparently increased his threats sevenfold and is desperate that Smaill never get his hands on the second cross.

The professor and the priest disembark to go to the tomb and upon arriving, find the entire group from the dinner table already at the tomb with them. The group meets with the Vicar of the church under which the tomb was found, and begins to explore the dark caverns leading to the golden cross. They finally reach the room in which the cross is held, and just as Smaill reaches out to touch the cross, the large stone slab of the coffin the cross is lying in slams shut, smashing the professor painfully in the head.

It is found out, after the professor is taken to a nearby doctor, that the Vicar has committed suicide. Father Brown goes to speak with the dinner party group, who then is ranting about the curse and how it will destroy them all. Brown dismisses this notion and tells of the falsehoods in the history of the stories associated with the tomb. Additionally, the cross seemed to be rigged to a small wooden peg that was holding the casket open. When the professor pulled the cross, the peg fell out, shutting the coffin, and hitting him in the head. But Brown reveals it was really the vicar who had been in the coffin; the maniac who had been pursuing Smaill thought that he had finally committed the murder and wanted to end his own life abruptly. Smaill recovers after a while and the group is able to go on with their lives in peace.

The Dagger with Wings

The renowned priest is called up one day by a doctor/ policeman named Dr. Boyne. A man named Aylmer had three sons and an adopted son named John Strake; when he died, he left a great fortune to Strake, but the three sons disputed the case with the law and managed to get the inheritance. Strake swore he would kill all three, and so far two are dead. Arnold Aylmer is the last alive and he is requesting police protection. The other two brothers died of apparent suicide or accident, but there is a chance Strake had managed to simply kill them masterfully and get away with it. Aylmer is now demanding police protection after his servants left because of his increasing agitation and impatience. Boyne admits that Father Brown is called in to be a compromise to Aylmer’s demand.

When Brown gets to the mansion, it is dark and lonesome. He cannot get in, nor does there appear to be anyone at home. The place appears to have been barricaded. Finally, Father Brown manages to climb in through a window and is immediately confronted by a ragged Aylmer. The two begin to speak, and Aylmer recounted the deaths of both of his brothers and seeing a shadowy figure before their deaths, near the scenes of their murders. On the body of both men, notes were found with winged daggers on the notes, similar to threatening notes they had received before.

Aylmer brings the priest another note he had recently received with similar design and shows off a blunderbuss capable of firing silver bullets. He speaks a good deal about superstition and when he goes upstairs to get a picture of Strake to show Brown, the priest calls the police office to request backup.

Suddenly, there is a shout and the sound of gunfire, and Father Brown finds himself soon standing over the body of Strake along with Aylmer, who apparently shot him in some sort of confused vision of some sort. The man is satisfied that he has finally killed the apparent murderer of his brothers and goes back into his house to have a drink.

Aylmer tries then incessantly to convince Brown of some sort of universal existence among all things, which Brown denies. The priest then convicts Aylmer as the true John Strake for having killed the last of the brothers, just as the police arrive to detain Strake, who is even boastful of his murders.

As Boyne probes for answers, Brown uncovers the murder. Just as Brown had been entering the house, Strake had killed the last brother. He quickly swapped clothing and being much larger than Aylmer, hung the body in a cloak on the hat-stand, putting a hat over the head to cover it up. Then he put on the victim’s nightgown in order to pretend to be Aylmer, and went down to meet Brown.

My Thoughts:

Another good collection. The first story really struck home, what with people trying to “create” a miracle so they could later debunk it and lay all the blame on Father Brown. What really struck me though was Father Braown’s reaction. He wasn’t angry or upset, he was just glad that things hadn’t gone as planned and thus discredit Christ. I wish I had such concern myself.

In the previous books it was evident that Father Brown wasn’t interested in bringing the criminals to justice but in redemption. In this book he doesn’t even go that far. Many of the mysteries are simply figured out and left at that. While I was resigned to no justice in previous books, this was too much.

The stories were pretty good and I was really in the flow of them until it became evident about nothing happening. Once I realized it was becoming a pattern I kind of rushed through the rest of the stories just to finish up.

I really hope the next Father Brown collection works out better :-/

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Wisdom of Father Brown (Father Brown #2) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Wisdom of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #2
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 268
Words: 73K


From Wikipedia

“The Absence of Mr Glass”, McClure’s Magazine, November 1912.

“The Paradise of Thieves”, McClure’s Magazine, March 1913.

“The Duel of Dr Hirsch”

“The Man in the Passage”, McClure’s Magazine, April 1913.

“The Mistake of the Machine”

“The Head of Caesar”, The Pall Mall Magazine, June 1913.

“The Purple Wig”, The Pall Mall Magazine, May 1913.

“The Perishing of the Pendragons”, The Pall Mall Magazine, June 1914.

“The God of the Gongs”

“The Salad of Colonel Cray”

“The Strange Crime of John Boulnois”, McClure’s Magazine, February 1913.

“The Fairy Tale of Father Brown”

My Thoughts:

Another fine collection of short stories where Father Brown at least makes an appearance. I know I said it in the first book but to call these “mysteries” is rather misleading. At least in the sense of a detective sussing out the facts and figuring it out. Father Brown just kind of makes pronouncements based on what he thinks about the fallen nature of humanity and goes from there.

I feel like my schedule of alternating these with books by the Bronte sisters is working out well. If I were to read the Father Brown books too close together I suspect I’d get annoyed. While Chesterton and I both share the Christian Faith, his way of viewing the world, expressed through the character of Father Brown are very different. Personally, I’d box Father Brown’s ears and tell him to stop being so clueless. But since he’s not real and Chesterton is dead, that simply isn’t an option. Probably just as well as Chesterton could roll over me like a steamship both physically and mentally. Unless I got him with a surprise kidney punch first 😉

I chose this cover from the Librarything collection because it perfectly represents Father Brown. I think it is from the tv show (of which I’ve heard nothing good) and man did they choose someone just as Chesterton described. A brown shapeless potato. And that actor is the most potato’y that I’ve ever seen. Kudo’s to him for being such a potato! And the short story format is just like a baked potato too. Just enough to keep you full and happy but not so much that you become a glutton.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Innocence of Father Brown (Father Brown #1) ★★★✬☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Innocence of Father Brown
Series: Father Brown #1
Author: G.K. Chesterton
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 269
Words: 78K


From Wikipedia

“The Blue Cross”, The Story-Teller, September 1910; first published as “Valentin Follows a Curious Trail”, The Saturday Evening Post, 23 July 1910

“The Secret Garden”, The Story-Teller, October 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Sep 3, 1910

“The Queer Feet”, The Story-Teller, November 1910. (The Saturday Evening Post, Oct 1, 1910)

“The Flying Stars”, The Saturday Evening Post, 20 May 1911.

“The Invisible Man”, The Saturday Evening Post, 28 January 1911. (Cassell’s Magazine, Feb 1911)

The Honour of Israel Gow (as “The Strange Justice”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 March 1911.

“The Wrong Shape”, The Saturday Evening Post, 10 December 1910.

“The Sins of Prince Saradine”, The Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1911.

The Hammer of God (as “The Bolt from the Blue”, The Saturday Evening Post, 5 November 1910.

“The Eye of Apollo”, The Saturday Evening Post, 25 February 1911.

“The Sign of the Broken Sword”, The Saturday Evening Post, 7 January 1911.

“The Three Tools of Death”, The Saturday Evening Post, 24 June 1911.

My Thoughts:

While this series is categorized as a mystery, it’s not Sherlock or Wimsey or even Wolfe. Father Brown doesn’t go around looking at a thread caught on a bush and extrapolate the life story of the perp and then reveal him to the authorities. No, Father Brown studies the nature of fallen humanity, discovers the culprit and tries to get them to do the right thing, whether repentance or turning themselves in.

Chesterton was a converted Catholic and as such, Father Brown is pretty strong on his catholic doctrine. At the same time, it really didn’t come across as Chesterton trying to preach or convert his readers. He was trying to tell a great story first and for me, it worked.

The main thing that worked best for me though was the short story aspect. Chesterton wrote each story for a magazine back in the day and then had them collected later. I didn’t have to power through a whole novel and I could stop between stories without losing anything. I appreciate that simplicity and lack of tangled complexity that a lot of modern books seem to deliberately aim for.

One interesting aspect that stood out to me was that in several of the stories the villain of the piece took poison rather than face public justice. That happened in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey books too and I wonder if it was a “sensibility of the times” thing? I don’t think of the bad guys of today taking poison but either fighting or flight’ing or of readers caring one way or the other. I’ll be keeping an eye out to see if it happens in any more stories.

A good addition to my reading rotation. Since I am also reading several other mystery series, I am going to be switch hitting the Complete Works of Chesterton with the Complete Works of the Sisters’ Bronte. That way I don’t Mystery myself out 🙂

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.