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on August 28, 2014
This is Chesterton's greatest work of fiction. In writing the story as six separate tales, Chesterton avoided the snarls his novels got into. And each tale is a gem, though none is better than the first, "The Tremendous Adventures of Major Brown," in which a blameless retired major looks into a strange garden and sees the words written out, in yellow pansies, Death to Major Brown. This outrage turns out to have been perpetrated by a member of the Club of Queer Trades, a society whose membership requirement is that one must be the sole practitioner of one's trade. Fantastical professions succeed one another throughout the book. Basil Grant, a judge who went mad on the bench, leads a group of men on a sort of tour of the club. In the last tale, "The Eccentric Seclusion of the Old Lady," the full joke is revealed of who Basil Grant really is.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 4, 2016
There's a set of books out there somewhere in book land titled "The Wit, Whimsy, and Wisdom of G. K. Chesterton", and Volume 2 of the set includes "The Club of Queer Trades". That set isn't free, but this Kindle volume is, so here you have a brilliant opportunity to dip into the Chesterton Club risk free.

These six stories are supposedly mysteries, but they are more along the lines of odd events with odd explanations. All six stories are connected to the Club of Queer Trades, a highly unusual and eccentric club composed of members who have created unique and original ways of making a living. We "solve" these mysteries in the company of Basil Grant, an ex-judge, who somehow manages to be both edgy and vague at the same time.

These are not Sherlock Holmes mysteries, indeed they explicitly reject the rational and deductive in favor of the intuitive. They are solved off-handedly and almost mystically. The solutions are improbable and droll. Our hero spends a good deal of his page time laughing to himself and his pronouncements are aphoristic and often well beside the point. Mystery lovers did not particularly care for these stories; the hero was not exactly embraced by the reading public; many Chesterton admirers either didn't get or didn't appreciate the joke.

But, I read these stories as simply an opportunity for Chesterton to have some light fun. If you just read it for the occasional throwaway line, or pointed observation, or withering aside, or colorful turn of phrase I suggest you will be quite well rewarded by this curious collection.
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on September 25, 2015
It was amusing. The characters and exposition were enjoyable, for someone - like me - who's been steeped in 19th century literature (by the lesser-knowns) for the past few years. I'm glad I found this author because I'd thought I might have exhausted this non-renewable resource. I really like period-actual, as opposed to period-"authentic", novels because the words, circumstances, plot devices and character development amount to a course in cultural anthropology disguised as a good (although at times predictable) read. This author is funny, clever with dialogue and has a wonderful vocabulary. Some mystery resolutions are eye-rollers, but no doubt appropriate to the era. If you are sensitive to the course realities of pre-PC writing, you might want to choose something else.
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on October 7, 2012
This book was a completely unexpected pleasure, and I enjoyed it as much or even more than the Father Brown mysteries.

The central figure of the book is a respected judge who left the bench due to madness. Or was he really sane, and the world around him was mad? The central premise is a private club, and in order to qualify for membership, prospects must make their living in a completely unique manner that has never been tried before.

The stories are humorous and quite clever, and always guaranteed a surprise ending, unlike anything I had read before. Not a long book- I read it through in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down, it was so entertaining and imaginative.

This was just a fun, fun book to read, and if you love books like me, it's a thrill to find a buried treasure like this one once in a while!
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on February 17, 2014
I was already reading a number of his other works available for free through Amazon, but come upon this after wondering what is the source of the phrase "truth is stranger than fiction." As it turned out, Chesterton I some of three credited with coining this phrase first, and it can be found in a Chetertonian iteration in this delightful collection of stories. I write for fun, and have enjoyed reading my whole life. As a writer, though, I find Chesterton an imposing figure; his wit and imagination are downright stellar. In this book we have a collection of stories which any author immediately wishes he had written himself. You find people perplexed, climaxed, flabbergasted, and downright left in the dark, and it is usually these same individuals you find yourself identifying with. The focus of attention is split within each story. You have the narrator, Chesterton himself, who puts you t ease for your natural skepticism; throughout you almost feel sorry that he has somehow been sucked into a Twilight Zone life where normal assumptions are about the only thing you can't trust. There is Basil, the man that will either drive yoyo mad with his insane rationale or guide you o sanity through a river of madness. There is poor Rupert, forced to play the fool a his brother does. Better job than him at his job, even though his only flaw is that of being a rational human being. There is the myriad of eccentrics, or Queer Tradesmen as it were, who each deserve their own spinoff show from a scifi universe it seems. Finally, there are the victims of this world gone mad, sometimes unwitting bystanders, sometimes the central cast members themselves.

I must say, when I finished reading these stories I was depressed. I want more, and will likely try and write some myself both as tribute to Chesterton, and partly to satisfy my desire for more. These characters are endearing and likeable, but the plots and their corresponding twists are downright epic. Who would of thought of an unassuming priest pretending to be a drunk old lady while dressed in drag? Or a garden plot spelling out in beatific blossoms a threat of death? The price is unbeatable, to be sure; but if you have the time, and wish to explore worlds that lay foundations of excellent narration and speculation, then I implore you to read through "The Club if Queer Trade."
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on August 11, 2015
This is my first G. K. Chesterton read although I have heard in the past that he was a great story teller. I thought the 6 amusing and whimsical stories, which were somewhat connected, to be at times long and drawn-out. At times it was difficult to understand because of the old-fashioned verbiage of the time. I kept on reading because the stories seemed so absurd, that I wanted to find out what the mysteries were all about. I have read a few early century stories including Jane Austins books and I find all of them to be somewhat similar in story telling and language. Would I read another G. K. Chesterton book? I might, depending on the subject matter and the ease of reading it.
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on February 19, 2016
Chosen this book as part of the curriculum for a course I am teaching to middle school/high school students on the works of G. K. Chesterton. This is a fantastic example of his writing, though I will admit his later works were better and more skilled. Still, it screams Chesterton with all the quirks of characters, strange details, and academic humor that he can always be counted on to supply. In addition, it is written in episodes, which makes it very easy to teach even just sections of this. As a novel, it is rather approachable from the surface, but if one wanted to you could also go to the philosophical and moral truths that hide just between the lines.
Overall: absolutely wonderful.
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on December 2, 2013
Point: Be careful of following the facts, for things are not always as they seem.

Path: Chesterton leads the reader on a fantastic adventure into the reality of things. While playing off the foolishness of Sherlock Holmes, Chesterton explains how it is more important to know the soul of an individual than their shoe size.

Sources: Chesterton writes this book after a careful contemplation of London, its neighborhoods, and the souls that inhabit the homes.

Agreement: I thoroughly agree! Perhaps we would do well to take a moment and put the facts to the test.
This book got me into Chesterton, and I have not regretted it a moment!

Personal App: Am I more concerned with what I see or what really happened?

Favorite Quote: Facts are like twigs on a tree, they point in every direction

It would be worth another read and I would recommend it.
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on May 23, 2015
What can I say? Typical quirky, thought-provoking Chesterton armed with his usual rapier wit. His plots always keep you going and thinking, "what the heck is going on?" until he finally clarifies things at the very end. And through it all, there is an underlying spiritual theme that is conveying universal truths about humanity. Basil, the protaganist is the only clear-sighted person who takes his friends and colleagues on a spirited ride through England.
Incidentally, the Club of Queer Trades is only for those whose profession is completely out of the ordinary yet profitable. In each story Basil discovers a new potential member- and it's not usually the person you think it's going to be.
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Enthusiast: Woodworkingon August 30, 2013
I picked this up at a friends recommendation. I was a little disappointed at the size of the book, as I had somehow hoped for a longer read from what had been described to me. Really though, the stories are charming and fun, especially for people who enjoy compact, well written short stories like I do.
I dunno how long it might be before I feel the need to read it again, but I'm glad I did the once at the very least.
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