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The Innocence of Father Brown

Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 members say

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I came to test Gramsci

I have loved Sherlock Holmes since devouring Simon Vance's narration of the Complete Works; and came across The Innocence of Father Brown as an avid follower of Frederick Davidson's narration.
Before deciding to buy it, I read a quote where Gramsci compares the mediocrity of Conan-Doyle and the genius of Chesterton. Having tested his surprising claim, I am afraid to report that old Italian Marxist was right. Chesterton is a genius. And while I love Cona-Doyle, he is a clumsy imitation.
Free tip: I have heard people complain about Davidson and wish that John Lee would narrate the books instead. They are Philistines.

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  • John
  • 05-03-2019

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Donna M. Yuengling
  • 19-07-2018

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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Katherine
  • 17-06-2015

Charming

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

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sydney
  • 09-01-2019

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 13-04-2013

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms. E. Morgan
  • 25-08-2018

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.

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  • Elizabeh
  • 01-08-2013

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 of 5 people found this review helpful