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The Man Who Knew Too Much Paperback – August 22, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Widely known as the "Prince of Paradox," G. K. Chesterton was one of the most influential English writers and thinkers of the 20th century. Chesterton's prodigious talents embraced a wide range of subjects, from philosophy and religion to detective fiction and fantasy.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Echo Library (August 22, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406803146
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406803143
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,764,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

290 of 292 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
G.K. Chesterton was happy to do some spoofery of the deductive detective genre -- his detectives seemed to depend more on the knowledge of human nature. One good example is Horne Fisher, the star character who solves bizarre little mysteries because he "knows too much... and all the wrong things."

The first story opens with a reknowned book critic stumbling across a dead man with his head bashed on. Fortunately Fisher is fishing nearby, and is able to deduce who killed the poor man, when, and cleverly figures out the best (and most theatrical) way to get results.

In each story, Horne deals with another strange mystery -- the framing of an Irish "prince" freedom fighter, the vanishing of a priceless coin, a man killed off in the Middle East, an eccentric rich man dies during an obsessive fishing trip, another vanishes during an ice skate, a bizarre dispute over an estate, and most shockingly, a statue crushing his own uncle...

Chesterton was a good mystery writer. He could spin up bizarre little crimes (murder, theft, treachery) for a variety of colourful reasons, from the political to purely psychological. "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is a good example of that, and it shows Chesterton veering into more politically-charged territory than in his other mysteries, with the Irish-English conflict, spies and impending war.

But these mysteries also have Chesterton the philosopher/theologian/thinker. He writes in colourful, poetic prose ("as if the world were steeped in wine rather than blood"), and has brief moments where Horn muses on human nature.

"Patriotism is not the first virtue. Patriotism rots into Prussianism when you pretend it is the first virtue," he remarks at one point, as an example.
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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful By R. S. Corzine VINE VOICE on May 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
If you think you're a cynic about politics (or more precisely, about politicians) you've got nothing on GK Chesterton. This is another of his episodic novels in which a series of short stories that stand alone end up making up one single story with the last one bringing all of the threads together and raising them to a climax and resolution.

The eponymous man who knew too much is Horne Fisher. And what he knows is all of the key people of the ruling class in England, the tawdry secrets of their personal lives, and the odd and indirect ways that these deform the laws, policies, and administration of justice in the realm. Hypocrisy and gentlemanly corruption are the air they breathe. He knows that most of what you read in the papers is nonsense. In his own words, he knows "everything that isn't worth knowing."

In these eight stories of mystery and crime, Fisher's peculiar knowledge allows him to discover who committed each crime and why. Often enough the criminal must go unpunished lest worse things follow. Sometimes the victim is in fact more guilty than the criminal. The other main character is an honest but naive reporter, Harold March, whom Fisher meets and befriends in the first story. March plays Dr. Watson to Fisher's Sherlock Holmes in all eight stories. Until the redemptive climax, Fisher is a sort of tragic figure, upright, honest and unwilling to participate in the wrongdoing, but also unwilling, seemingly unable, to expose his family and their plutocratic circle.

I doubt whether England was quite as rotten in 1922 as Chesterton believed. I'm quite sure that America in 2010 is not. But then perhaps that just makes me the man who knows too little.

One way or the other, this is a delightful book and highly recommended.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Rouse on March 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a collection of eight short mystery stories which reminded me greatly of Chesterton's Father Brown stories, except these were not quite as good. I dislike mystery stories where the main character solves the mystery with the aid of a clue that the reader did not have access too. That was one of the reasons why I really like Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries, because if you pay close enough attention and think enough, you can come to the correct conclusion yourself before the answer is announced. Unfortunately, Chesterton does not write all of these stories in that way (though a few of the eight are), and it makes them not as much fun to read, though they are still very good.

In terms of content, Chesterton does a fabulous job of bring up moral issues (for example, do we tell the public the truth about murder if it will be harmful to the public?) in these mysteries, and they really make you think. As always, Chesterton has also intersperced the stories with witty yet deep phrases which also make you think, and if you are an underliner you will find many things to underline.

In conclusion, this is a good book, but if I were you, I'd read his Father Brown stories before I read these.

Overall grade: B+
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
G.K. Chesterton was happy to do some spoofery of the deductive detective genre -- his detectives seemed to depend more on the knowledge of human nature. One good example is Horne Fisher, the star character who solves bizarre little mysteries because he "knows too much... and all the wrong things."

The first story opens with a reknowned book critic stumbling across a dead man with his head bashed on. Fortunately Fisher is fishing nearby, and is able to deduce who killed the poor man, when, and cleverly figures out the best (and most theatrical) way to get results.

In each story, Horne deals with another strange mystery -- the framing of an Irish "prince" freedom fighter, the vanishing of a priceless coin, a man killed off in the Middle East, an eccentric rich man dies during an obsessive fishing trip, another vanishes during an ice skate, a bizarre dispute over an estate, and most shockingly, a statue crushing his own uncle...

Chesterton was a good mystery writer. He could spin up bizarre little crimes (murder, theft, treachery) for a variety of colourful reasons, from the political to purely psychological. "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is a good example of that, and it shows Chesterton veering into more politically-charged territory than in his other mysteries, with the Irish-English conflict, spies and impending war.

But these mysteries also have Chesterton the philosopher/theologian/thinker. He writes in colourful, poetic prose ("as if the world were steeped in wine rather than blood"), and has brief moments where Horn muses on human nature.

"Patriotism is not the first virtue. Patriotism rots into Prussianism when you pretend it is the first virtue," he remarks at one point, as an example.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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