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The Innocence of Father Brown

By: G. K. Chesterton
Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
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Summary

Detective fans of all races and creeds, of all tastes and fancies will delight in the exploits of this wise and whimsical padre. Father Brown’s powers of detection allow him to sit beside the immortal Holmes, but he is also "in all senses a most pleasantly fascinating human being", according to American crime novelist Rufus King. You will be enchanted by the scandalously innocent man of the cloth, with his handy umbrella, who exhibits such uncanny insight into ingeniously tricky human problems.

This collection of 12 mysteries solved by Father Brown includes: "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", and "The Three Tools of Death".

©1933 G. K. Chesterton (P)1992 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic reviews

“G. K. Chesterton’s tales [are] of the unassuming Catholic priest who claims that his work at the confessional (where he has to do ‘next to nothing but hear men’s real sins’) puts him in an excellent position to solve the bizarre crimes that come his way in pre–First World War England…. The unassuming cleric, whose humble conviction that his God will eventually triumph over the souls of even the most evil of criminals, is the quiet but insistent heartbeat of these unusual exercises in detective fiction.” ( Sunday Times, London)

What listeners say about The Innocence of Father Brown

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A Great Mixture of Crime, Comedy and Compassion

The First Father Brown Short Story Compilation:

Father Brown is an endearing character who is able to use intelligence, experience humour and compassion in the detection of crime and mystery.

The narrator; Frederick Davidson is an acquired taste but it does not much detract from the stories.

Please be aware that this book was complied in 1911, so some of the language and opinions are a bit out of date / archaic. It also (unsurprisingly for a book featuring a catholic priest) is is written from unashamedly positive Christian and Catholic viewpoint.

Full Story Listing:

1) The Blue Cross - Father Brown meet 'Flambo' for the first time.
2) The Secret Garden - Classic 'Country House' murder mystery
3) The Queer Feet - Queer as in strange; mystery at an exclusive restaurant.
4) The Flying Stars - Pantomime, family drama and theft
5) The Invisible Man - Deadly love rivals
6) The Honour of Israel Gow - Mystery at a Scottish Estate
7) The Wrong Shape - Murder or Suicide?
8) The Sins of Prince Saradine - Revenge, Intrigue, boats
9) The Hammer of God - Mystery Murder Weapon
10) The Eye of Apollo - Religion or cult?
11) The Sign of the Broken Sword - Military Mystery
12) The Three Tools of Death - Challenge your assumptions

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and have re-'read' it many times, I think story 11 is the best.

2 people found this helpful

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Just OK. Not super keen on the narrators voice.

Having recently seen the BBC adaption of Fr Brown 2013 I thought I would give the original stories a listen; I was under no illusion that the TV version would be the same as the author had intended. That said I was a little disappointed. The stories do ramble a little and are constructed in an outdated and wordy form of speech which can take some getting used to. It's only to be expected when you consider the date of publication. I personally didn't find the narrator easy to listen to, that's just my little foible. I would be interested if the Beeb did an audible dramatization. Until such a time, I'll not bother with the other books in the series.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing

I have to say I came to these stories imagining a conservative, mildly entertaining listen. My expectations were immediately undermined by the structure of the first story, which is quite odd and unexpected. Each story has a crime and solution, and they are all held together by the self-depricating Father Brown, whose ability to understand the darker sides of human nature is formed more through is own friendship with criminals than insight from God. Themes and another main character, whom again unexpectedly evolves through the stories, give the whole book a satisfyingly complete feeling. Father Brown, the character, can be quite irritating (though I have a feeling this may be intentional on Chesterton's part), but there is a strand of humour and a lightness to the stories, despite their surprisingly brutal crimes. There is an odd clash of conservatism and liberalism in the stories which I found intriguing. It took me a while to get used to Frederick Davidson's voice (which some may find an acquired taste) but I soon came to really enjoy his reading, and especially enjoyed his use of voices for different characters. If you are new to Father Brown, like me, I really hope you enjoy this book. I am certainly going to listen to or read more.

2 people found this helpful

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Awful narration

I love these books but couldn’t listen to it. The narrator seriously annoyed me.
Shame but hey ho

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Maybe I'm not a "who dunnit" fan

Some of the short stories are intriguing, while others felt a bit ho-hum. I enjoyed getting to know Flambau, and the stories with really unexpected endings, but there are also a few that's just a clever explanation of scene that was created.

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Excellent entertainment!

I saw that GK Chesterton’s use of language and the approach of the narrator were a bit much for at least one reviewer. I found the writing and the narration to be a perfect match. This was written more than 100 years ago and it reminds me of Three Men In A Boat, which I loved as a teenager and still do at 68 going on 69. I’m tempted to watch Father Brown on TV, knowing the series might not live up to the high standard set by this audiobook. Then again the TV production might be even better :)

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very very good

excellent stories, excellent narrator , so good that ivejust downloaded the next by this narrator

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a book of its time

Fairly enjoyable, the writing is of its time and perhapsnthr style of narration. If you Re looking for something akin to the TV show, this is not it.

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short stories chapter each , not the best

murder mystery needs some build up xx this just not my thing xx
very well read though xx

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  • John
  • 05-03-19

A Very Knowledgeable Innocence

Listen to this one just for the language, the way Chesterton can evolve an observation about an everyday object into an observation about society or even civilization. Like all the Father Brown stories, these are written by a mind not uncommon at the time; a mind that operated on several different planes at once: the aesthetic, the religious, the cultural, the historic. Those differing angles of perspective then merged into prose that illuminated whatever it took under consideration as brilliantly as any poet.

A passing familiarity with the history of the time is helpful, French politics in general and the Dreyfus affair in particular. Some of these stories have later literary reverberations, “The Queer Feet”, being the story Lady Marchmain reads aloud in Brideshead Revisited. It is also my favorite in this collection; a poignant picture of how God’s mercy can reach us, in spite of everything we do to avoid Him.

By now I’ve come to realize that Frederick Davidson (aka David Case) is a deal breaker for many. We either love him or hate him. I love him; his suave, knowing delivery is the perfect vehicle for Chesterton’s witty, urbane and, ultimately, profound playfulness.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Donna G
  • 19-07-18

Character Development

I am familiar with the Father Brown stories as many are from the two TV shows. This was so much better seeing the characters develop

5 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 17-06-15

Charming

Delightful stories about a detect e who solves intriguing mysteries using his intuitive, experienced knowledge of people

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sydney
  • 09-01-19

Has Not Aged Well

Call it a product of it's time, but there's some pretty obviously racist undertones in the book that just got a bit too hard to move past enough to still enjoy listening to the book. I gave up somewhere about the halfway mark because it was making me too uncomfortable.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Erica
  • 05-12-20

Love Father Brown

Narrators voice is like finger nails across a black board. Not pleasant to hear at all.

3 people found this helpful

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  • MamaBear
  • 18-11-22

Full of racial slurs

I know it was a different era. But chapter 7 contains not only racial epithets, but some truly ugly attitudes about Asian people, specifically the Hindu religion and it’s adherents. It also uses the “n” word, as applied by the colonial era British to mean “anyone not of an ethnicity of Northern Europe.”

Despite clearing the character in question, that ugliness remains in the substance of Father Brown’s words regarding Hinduism and people from Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It was truly enough to turn my stomach and change my whole opinion of the character of Father Brown - but not of the author.

Chesterton seems to have been very deliberate about exposing the racism inherent in both colonial era Britain and the Catholic Church. We see and hear it. But, in clearing the character these slurs are directed at, the author shows the damage that racist assumptions do.

I’m not sure that payoff was big enough for me to sit through the story. This type of casually used racist language is sprinkled throughout the book. Chapter 7 was just exceptionally rough.

I’m not trying to do whatever it is liberals are accused of doing these days - banning, canceling, boycotting, trying to sound woke, etc.

What I am doing is letting other listeners know what this collection contains. I don’t want those who have experienced racist trauma to choose this book unaware of the overt nature of the racist language it contains.

I wouldn’t choose to share this with young people unless I was prepared to have a frank conversation about the roles racism plays in these stories, either. While it comes from a different era, we give tacit approval of racist attitudes and language when we don’t stop to think about and challenge them, especially if we’re sharing these stories with young people.

The narration is excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Balsam Woods
  • 01-02-22

Narrator's Voice

Struggled with narrator's voice for Father Brown. The voice for Father Brown sounded far too effeminate.

2 people found this helpful

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  • J-me
  • 12-07-21

Disappointed by the narration

The stories are excellent. I’m familiar with a number of them. However the narrator is careless and appears to forget that he is reading for an audience. Very annoying. This book is included in my membership or I would have returned it very quickly.

2 people found this helpful

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  • materialist
  • 12-07-21

Period pieces

Closer to Sherlock Holmes than to the later closed room/English village/grande dames of English mystery: imperturbable little Father Brown who notices everything and interprets the human heart through the lens of its relationship to spirituality. These murders, gruesome and described with considerable relish, are situated in a society only beginning to wrench itself away from Victorianism, and there is none of the questioning of the class structure and social roles that mark later, post World War I, mysteries. Mostly, Chesterton seemed to use the stories as ways to comment on religion. (He was a convert to Catholicism, which in his England was still a fraught thing to be.) Narrator was a bit too blasé for my taste; only his Father Brown voice was gentle and sweet, but every so often the softness took on an almost creepy quality. The French accents were annoying but perhaps inevitable.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Billie Jean
  • 11-08-22

1911-ists

It was so disheartening to learn that the sweet, tolerant, progressive Father Brown of the BBC came from this racist, classist, sexist, xenophobe. Oh and he’s also whatever you call it when someone is intolerant of all other religions (even Protestants.) The narrator’s voice is different but I got used to it. They’re beautiful moments in the book where I see why Father Brown became a beloved character but those don’t make up for his horrible outdated hate speech.

1 person found this helpful