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As I chose the Five of Clubs for Week 47 of my Deal Me In 2014 short story project, allow me to use the “priest walks into a bar” tie-in one last time. The Five of Clubs corresponds to my final Father Brown mystery by G. K. Chesterton, “The Ghost of Gideon Wise”. My Deal Me In 2014 list can be seen here. DMI is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.
In this case, a priest, three Capitalists, three Socialists, a detective and a journalist walk into a bar. Actually, it’s two bars as Capitalists and Socialists don’t socialize with each other. I’m guessing they don’t capitalize with each other, either. And Father Brown happens to be socializing with the Socialists. He has a rather interesting reason for doing this, too.
With this type of mystery, I usually have a problem with the resolution as many authors tend to throw logic to the wind and pull an answer out of thin air – or an answer that is somewhat contrived. In the case of “Gideon Wise”, though, the premise may be a little contrived, but the mystery’s resolution is not too difficult to figure out and the logic behind the mystery’s revelation made the story that much more enjoyable.
Gideon Wise is one of the three Capitalists and, of the three, he might be considered an extreme capitalist. He is a rugged pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps individualist and it goes without saying that he doesn’t like to share. The title of the story might give away some of the story’s plot but the reader needs to remember that it’s a mystery – not everything is as it appears. As usual, Father Brown remains both humble and confident as he brings the story to an end which gives an interesting Chesterton take on the conflict between the two political and economic systems.
At some point in the future, I’d like to give Chesterton’s longer works of fiction a try. I’ve heard great things about his novel The Man Who Was Thursday. I also have Chesterton’s biographies of Charles Dickens and Thomas Aquinas unread on my shelf. And I happen to be reading Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited and came upon a Father Brown quotation. As I’ve said before, Chesterton has a great mind and a great imagination.