The Wisdom of Father Brown explores many characters and fascinating themes such as the following. An eminent criminologist is persuaded by the mild yet persistent Father Brown to sort out a family matter. Also, a Tuscan poet fancies himself as the King of Thieves. A famous French philosopher and atheist holds the key to a new invention called “Noiseless Powder.” A corpse is discovered in a dark passage backstage at London's Adelphi Theater. Finally there is Psychometric testing of criminals in Chicago.
Featuring twelve delightful stories about the short and stumpy Roman Catholic priest who finds himself thrown willy-nilly into the role of a sleuth, this book is the second in the series. Written in Chesterton's inimitable, poetic style, full of movement and color, some with an interesting twist in the tail, and all of them packed with memorable characters, the Father Brown stories have never lost their charm. The kindly but shrewd priest who sees much more than he lets on, is based on a real priest, Father John O'Connor of Bradford, who brought Chesterton into the Catholic faith. This lovable cleric, perennially dressed in a shabby habit, carrying an ancient umbrella and peering around short-sighted, has an astonishing ability to spot evil in the world and in mankind.
Father Brown first made his appearance in the short story, The Blue Cross, published in 1910. This story also featured other Father Brown staples, the arch-criminal Flambeau and Inspector Valentin, head of the Paris Police. Father Brown's methods are intuitive rather than deductive. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown has a fundamental awareness of evil, which he attributes to the fact that as a priest, he gets to hear plenty of nefarious stories in the confession box. Also unlike the London detective, Father Brown counts humility among one of his virtues which is something that Holmes certainly doesn't do.
However, Father Brown's methods are also strictly rational. The final explanation he gives at the end of each story traces the exact route he takes to arrive at the solution. He tends, nevertheless, to use philosophic and spiritual angles to unravel the mystery rather than rely on purely scientific data. Father Brown has been extensively played on stage, radio, television and film by a host of actors. The latest television series commissioned by the BBC has gone on air in 2014.