Gilbert Keith Chesterton was one of the most influential English writers of the twentieth century. He put his mind and pen to a broad spectrum of subjects including theology, poetry, biography, journalism and philosophy. Great writers have no influence over those parts of their work which posterity decides is most significant or will be best remembered, in Chesterton's case—in the minds of many—he will forever be remembered as the creator of the little Roman Catholic priest-detective, Father Brown. The vitality of that character has endured, evergreen, never losing its charm. Chesterton, was a lover of detective and mystery fiction and his own contribution to the genre extends far beyond the Father Brown stories. Leonaur has collected Chesterton's fabulous, intriguing and entertaining mysteries—in order of original book publication—into six substantial volumes to enable his many aficionados to own and read them in either softcover or hardback with dust jacket for collectors. This collection is the ideal way to possess these essential books of crime, mystery and detection and no enthusiast's library will be complete without them.
Volume one includes an introduction by Chesterton himself on the subject of detective fiction followed by 'The Club of Queer Trades'—a linked collection of tales where each principal character has a peculiar occupation—and 'The Man Who Was Thursday' where, in a strange London, a poet is recruited by Scotland Yard to seek out a group of anarchists.
I struck a match and held it up. It revealed a large, bare, yellow-papered apartment with a dark-clad figure at the other end of it near the window. An instant after it burned my fingers and dropped, leaving darkness. It had, however, revealed something more practical—an iron gas bracket just above my head. I struck another match and lit the gas. And we found ourselves suddenly and seriously in the presence of the captive. <br>
At a sort of workbox in the window of this subterranean breakfast-room sat an elderly lady with a singularly high colour and almost startling silver hair. She had, as if designedly to relieve these effects, a pair of Mephistophelian black eyebrows and a very neat black dress. The glare of the gas lit up her piquant hair and face perfectly against the brown background of the shutters. The background was blue and not brown in one place; at the place where Rupert’s knife had torn a great opening in the wood about an hour before.<br>
“Madam,” said he, advancing with a gesture of the hat, “permit me to have the pleasure of announcing to you that you are free. Your complaints happened to strike our ears as we passed down the street, and we have therefore ventured to come to your rescue.”<br>
The old lady with the red face and the black eyebrows looked at us for a moment with something of the apoplectic stare of a parrot. Then she said, with a sudden gust or breathing of relief:<br>
“Rescue? Where is Mr Greenwood? Where is Mr Burrows? Did you say you had rescued me?”<br>
“Yes, madam,” said Rupert, with a beaming condescension. “We have very satisfactorily dealt with Mr Greenwood and Mr Burrows. We have settled affairs with them very satisfactorily.”<br>
The old lady rose from her chair and came very quickly towards us.<br>
“What did you say to them? How did you persuade them?” she cried.
“We persuaded them, my dear madam,” said Rupert, laughing, “by knocking them down and tying them up. But what is the matter?”
To the surprise of every one the old lady walked slowly back to her seat by the window.<br>
“Do I understand,” she said, with the air of a person about to begin knitting, “that you have knocked down Mr Burrows and tied him up?”<br>
“We have,” said Rupert proudly; “we have resisted their oppression and conquered it.”<br>
“Oh, thanks,” answered the old lady, and sat down by the window.<br>
A considerable pause followed.<br>
“The road is quite clear for you, madam,” said Rupert pleasantly.<br>
The old lady rose, cocking her black eyebrows and her silver crest at us for an instant.<br>
“But what about Greenwood and Burrows?” she said. “What did I understand you to say had become of them?”<br>
“They are lying on the floor upstairs,” said Rupert, chuckling. “Tied hand and foot.”<br>
“Well, that settles it,” said the old lady, coming with a kind of bang into her seat again, “I must stop where I am.”<br>
Rupert looked bewildered.<br>
“Stop where you are?” he said. “Why should you stop any longer where you are? What power can force you now to stop in this miserable cell?”