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Father Brown Books In Order

Publication Order of Father Brown Collections

The Innocence of Father Brown (1911) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Secret of Father Brown (1927) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Scandal of Father Brown (1935) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Father Brown is the lead character in the series of books written by G.K. Chesterton titled Father Brown. He makes his initial appearance in the story, “The Blue Cross” and goes on to be the focus of a series of short stories that were later compiled into five books.

The best phrase attached to the essence of Father Brown was to dub him, “The Empathetic Detective”. His methods involved the use of inductive methods to solve the mysteries he was pursuing. A good way to look at it is to compare him to the other great British detective, Sherlock Holmes. Holmes was a master at deductive reasoning in using science and deduction to find the criminal. Brown’s empathic approach is to enter the mind of the criminal through assuming the psychological essence of the murderer himself and plan out each crime himself very carefully using the murderer’s persona while subordinating his own tendencies. When he felt that he had indeed become the criminal, the job of naming the murderer was simple. It was him, in the murderer’s persona of course.

The best way to create a character profile of Brown is to assume the same kind of empathic approach and think like him. He actually explains who he in his own words in the story, “The Secret of Father Brown.” So, if you want to know the most intimate of details about the character, grab that story and read it through with a critical eye. The personality of the character will come through in vivid color. In the words of G.K Chesterton, this excerpt from that story states with amazing clarity what his process is, “You see, I had murdered them all myself… I had planned out each of the crimes very carefully. 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.”

Media Exposure

We’ve already made one comparison of Brown and the great Sherlock Holmes, but that brings up the question of who the greatest literary detective was. In this case, the “greatest” label goes to the character that is most recognizable. In that competition, Holmes wins by a landslide. Using IMDb as the unbiased resource, Brown comes up with around 10 listing while Holmes shows up 200 times on just a simple search. There have been many variations of the Sherlock Holmes stories that may well generate another 200 listings including credits for some cartoon portrayals of the famed detective. Marketing does have its way of making the man. The Holmes franchise is far and away the best well-oiled machine.

In defense of Father Brown, psychological and inductive methods are not things that people understand well. It’s not tangible, and while there is an antagonist to pit against the protagonist Brown, they are one in the same from the stories point of view. It doesn’t make for many exciting chase scenes and clever special effects. However, in my book, Father Brown is the far more accomplished detective.

Father Brown, the Character

Father Brown is an unremarkable looking Catholic priest. He’s dull, short of stature, wears clothes that do nothing to define who he is and carries a large umbrella. He hardly someone a criminal would fear being on his trail. His only real asset is his ability to see into the mind of evil and understand what a human is capable of doing. He always presents as very humble and calm and very much a priest. From the stereotypical point of view, if Father Brown were real and walking the streets, you’d hardly notice him outside the confines of the church. He has a sidekick in many of his stories, but it’s not a Dr. Watson character so critical to the Sherlock Holmes story. Instead, it’s a reformed criminal by the name of M Hercule Flambeau.

This is where some logic will serve to explain Brown’s character with a little more depth. In conversations with Flambeau in the many stories written, Flambeau is always incredulous at how a man of the cloth can be so in tune with criminal horror while being a man of peace and love. The answer given by Brown invokes the sanctity of the confessional booth in not giving specifics but the fact that people reveal their real sins in that booth and it’s not a pretty sight. Human evil abounds to the extent the Father Brown is well-versed in his pursuit of the psychological profile of the killers he tracks. He pans Flambeau in pointing out his weaknesses as a detective. It centers on the fact that he is not a priest and tries to attack the problem with reason which he calls bad theology. So, in effect, theology is Father Brown’s greatest weapon in understanding the mental state of the killers he chases allowing him to find them and put them in jail.

If nothing else, Father Brown is a rational character in the face of irrational behavior. The tortured minds he encounters in the badcharacters he chases will always come up with a wild story of why they did what they did invoking supernatural occurrence to explain the event. Father Brown can see right through that manufactured persona to the ordinary, natural explanation that usually ends up sealing the case and arresting the right person. This is typical of the unassuming character Father Brown is. He takes nothing for granted and looks for the root cause of various behaviors. His mind is clear of distracting inertia because he is a devout clergyman. His considerable education feeds a quiet confidence that is impossible to shake.

If you track Father Brown to the core of his existence, his empathic skills coupled with his quiet humility leads him down the path of handling crimes with respect and belief that anything is possible, including a supernatural explanation. He never discounts the creativity of the human mind and uses it as a tool to right the wrongs of others. He is a fantastic character.

Whether there is a discussion on who is the best detective this, character stands out to be the most recognizable cast. He was the most loved character especially being that he was the seen as the best to ever emerge in 1911. The earliest collection of the stories was done to give Chesterton’s kindest clergy man in the front rank. This made him show compassion that has shielded him from many people while trying to get solutions to some mysteries with a combination of fiction and sympathy.

The stories of Father Brown traces back to the films done in the 1950s, some two television series, with one already rolled on in the BBC1, masterpiece mystery show and a great T.V. movie in the U.S. Similarly, the hunt for Arthur Conman’s Sherlock homes turns to be gaining an impressive 200 hits. It I however, not a difficult thing to trace the reason as to why Holmes’s on-screen triumphs over the cleric.

Holmes is a beneficiary of both the myths and the attractive milieu, the foggy, gas-lit old Victorian London, and makes it so enjoyable. Holmes here can even fight the Nazis, live in LA, develop internet addiction and still retain recognition. Father Brown is also linked to a point in the British’s early 20th century and at the same time facing challenges the of his time.

The new series in the BBC depicts the embedded stories in rather a different style, Midsomer-style of a 1950 English village. The one element that seems to be missing from all these is the feeling of nostalgia though it uses a lot of consolation. The character, Father Brown, is conspicuously unforgettable even though the stories are mostly dominated by Sherlock Holmes who seems to catch the attention of every reader.

The cleric makes his first appearance in a way that differentiates him from the rest. He is so common in the story. The one thing that makes this character so common is the fact that he is always up and about at all points of the story. During the 1974 ATV series, we are introduced to the character getting displacement for as long as a third of the total program length. Then when he is seen, he seems uncomfortable looking on with a look that is in denial to his appearance which in a way looks so charming.

Holmes is portrayed as a very stiff and more of having an amateur chemist or logician appearance. On the other side, Brown is that with a plump and dowdy faced person who happens to be a parish priest as well as an “Essex turnip”. Brown does not just show detective skills that are updated but also possess a great profile.

He gives the story the sarcastic touch that it needs especially when you have a quick look at the way his methods of analyzing problems gives him a more theatrical persona. Holmes becomes sexier more and more but the Father is rather the one who does not seem to cause even a mere flatter of the heart. When Sherlock takes leads to Dr. Who, then the only doctor viable to play the part of the clergyman is none other than Sylvester McCoy in the series, whimsical nemesis.

Later, Holmes relieves himself of mystery and turns the disgust of killing into something that comforts the heart in a way that overwhelms. Here, Holmes is seen as the one that can separate any strangeness from the normal. The detective in an interesting way inscribes using the bullets holes, the initials of Victoria Regina on the walls of his flat.

Then with a sudden shift of mind, Father Brown intelligently takes you out of the world of misery by coming up with a solution that shocks you. This way the character shows the reader that the tiny of points forms the greatest lessons for one to notice. This shows just how much the world is so weird than the previous assumptions of our heads. The distinctive part that crops the mid and attention of the reader as the story continues, as the fact that the reader tends to feel so happy when they feel like fools.

The stories composed by Chesterton give solace to the reader as found in the character Holmes, as well as the detective characters in his tales. This cold further leave someone with the notion that the mind indeed fits the world.

Another vivid outcome of the writer’s writing style is the manner in which he poses the paradox to critics to gladly criticize. Despite the writer’s fin de siècle, he seemed consumed with the spirit of the decade which he showed profession to hate.

Through the story of the clergyman, an opportunity presents itself for displaying the gratitude clothed within the story of the detective to showcase killings, resulting guilt and more. The writer uses the priest to give a big surprise that offers a solution to the life of the clergyman. It is also clear from the story that the faith or religion of the clergy was a very big boost to his effort. This is so seen when he strives to show the truth which seemed unbelievable for most people around him.

Reading through the work of Chesterton, it comes out clear that surprise was his major tool of teaching through the art. With each turn of events, you see that indeed, the world is so endless yet as different as it is. The priest had a very distinct methodology that separated him from any other detective. This is put in play when the reader finds the story to look like a matter of mere inspiration. This way, the reader is left admiring and gets involved in the puzzles that the story presents such as the various aspects of the story.

Chesterton through such a story presents crime in a manner that only keen eyes could capture. The story seeks to help him find baring for his artwork. This is one of the stories which Chesterton used to view through the mind of the person inside 100 killers.

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