The Man Who Knew Too Much (book review)

The Man Who Knew Too MuchRegular readers of this blog have probably noticed that I don’t read very much fiction. Partly this is because I have so much to read that I need to keep strict requirements on my reading list, and partly because many fictional works are so much mental cotton candy. By that I mean it’s sweet for the moment, but it’s quickly gone. But there are exceptions, and The Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton is a notable exception.

Chesterton is usually known for his non-fiction theological writings. But the wit, insight, wisdom and humor he uses in his non-fiction work is also on full display in this book, which chronicles the observation skills of Mr. Horne Fisher.

Fisher is the man who knows too much. Because he knows too much, he solves mysteries and riddles “backwards” from the way a typical detective would. Although Fisher is not a detective, but just a man who is well-known and well-connected, he seems to stumble upon the most bizarre settings. Fisher knows too much, so he spots what’s missing, and then works “backwards” to unravel the conundrum. It’s quite fascinating to watch him at work, and Chesterton’s insights into the human spirit make his characters very engaging.

These are not your typical detective stories, but the uniqueness of Horne Fisher’s crime-solving technique makes The Man Who Knew Too Much an enjoyable and enlightening book.

I typically share some of my favorite quotes from the books I review, but in this case I have included some of the wittier lines and descriptions that Chesterton employs. Check it out in the comment below….

One Response to “The Man Who Knew Too Much (book review)”

  1. Craig T. Owens Says:

    “Harold March was the sort of man who knows everything about politics, and nothing about politicians. He also knew a great deal about art, letters, philosophy, and general culture; about almost everything, indeed, except the world he was living in.”

    “He had a talent for appearing when he was not wanted and a talent for disappearing when he was wanted.”

    “Despite the almost aggressive touch of luxury in the fur coat, it soon became apparent that Sir Walter’s large leonine head was for use as well as ornament”

    “Mr. Symon, the official guardian and guide, was a young man, prematurely gray, with a grave mouth which contrasted curiously with a very small, dark mustache with waxed points, that seemed somehow, separate from it, as if a black fly had settled on his face.”

    “‘Splendid.’
    ‘Splendid,’ replied the man by the well. But the first man pronounced the word as a young man might say it about a woman, and the second as an old man might say it about the weather, not without sincerity, but certainly without fervor.”

    “Having been a fashionable dandy forty years ago, he had managed to preserve the dandyism while ignoring the fashions … he had this festive trick of being always slightly overdressed.”

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