Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton

After reading the Classic "The Innocence of Father Brown" I thought I will give another book in the series a try. So going chronologically I picked up The Wisdom of Father Brown, published in 1914 The Wisdom of Father Brown consists of 12 short stories similar to its predecessor and again I will do capsule reviews for all twelve stories like I did for its illustrious predecessor.

The Absence of Mr Glass - Father Brown approaches a criminologist to ask for his help in a peculiar case of Mr Todhunter who is many times found locked in his room with two voices coming from inside but when the door is opened there is only one, apparently there is talk in the village that a man in a silk hat arises from the sea to meet Mr Todhunter and then disappears in the sea. A nice opening story to the book with an amusing ending.

The Paradise of Thieves - A Banker and his beautiful daughter get kidnapped by a bandit king, Father Brown and a dashing bandit try to help them, but do they really need any help? an average mystery which also felt a bit too stretched

The Duel of Dr. Hirsch - A man is accused of treason by a French colonel, the problem is that the evidence to support the accusation is inverted i.e. the details in the evidence point out to the man's innocence then his guilt. Father Brown and his friend Flambeau are at the scene to clear up the mystery. An absurd story which should not have ever been published!

The Man in the passage - An actress is murdered and there are four men around her who are all suspects, one of them is arrested for murder and tried, Father Brown takes the stand and comes up with a sensational revelation. This is decent read and is one of the better stories in the book.

The Mistake of the Machine - A Convict is accused of murdering an Aristocrat, the police use a kind of a lie detector to nail the accused but Brown thinks that it is the human machine which is making a mistake in this case. The mystery takes a little time to get going and I was not able to understand the plot for a long time.

The Head of Caesar - A girl is blackmailed by an odd man for stealing a coin from his brother's collection. She is haunted by this man wherever she ventures, Father Brown helps her in disposing the enigmatic blackmailer. A good mystery but nothing outstanding.

The Purple Wig - A Landlord Chieftain wears a purple colored wig to hide a terrible secret and that secret is his ear! Legend has it that this landlord belongs to a family which have a terrible curse on them which manifests itself in the ear and anyone who sees this curse is doomed. Another amusing story but it belongs more in a comic book then a mystery book.

The Perishing of the Pendragons - Very slow moving story about a legend and a curse on a family of sailors. In my opinion this is one of the worst stories in the book with inordinate amounts of details about the landscape which becomes a drag on top of that Father Brown gets on your nerves with his know it all attitude, the book and the story now started to look really boring. I almost chucked the book but then decided otherwise.

The God of the Gongs - Someone is planning a murder in the middle of a boxing match.Father Brown and Flambeau try to stop the murder and the murderer. The Story is a bit incoherent in the beginning as you don't understand what is going on and also I was not able to relate somethings which happened in the beginning to the end.

The Salad of Colonel Cray - Colonel Cray on his visit to India inadvertently enters a temple and sees the back of an idol, this is sacrilegious and the colonel is cursed by the Hindu priest. The unfortunate colonel now sees flying clubs, snakes and strange marks on his throat.

The Strange Crime of John Boulnois - One of the very few decent reads in this book about murder carried out by a jealous husband whose wife is getting wooed by a famous plutocrat. Father Brown is at his irritating best who just seems to uncover mysteries without any conclusive proofs of how he came to a conclusion.

The Fairy-Tale of Father Brown - Another plot which has a incoherent beginning but a really nice ending. Flambeau narrates a strange story about a Prince who is murdered in his backyard but without any weapons, Father Brown in turn enunciates his own extraordinary explanation for the murder.

I did not really enjoy writing this reveiw, because I did not enjoy reading the book. There was very little mystery, a lot of religious especially christian superiority complex, too much details about landscapes and buildings, too many illogical conclusions, boring narrative and on top of everything a detective who just does or says something fantastic and then never troubles the reader with what he is thinking or what led him to a clue or how he uncovered a mystery.

I'm rating this one as 1 star out of 5, I would have given this half a star but the book is free.

Where can you get it?

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