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The Club of Queer Trades
By G. K. Chesterton

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The Club of Queer Trades

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The Club of Queer Trades
A Preposterous Club with Eccentric Members
By G. K. Chesterton
Thorndike Press: (1905)
Large Print Perennial Bestsellers
ISBN: 0-7862-6422-5
Genre: Short Stories, Mystery

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - June 11, 2004

The Club of Queer Trades is a collection of six uproarious short stories by G. K. Chesterton. Although these are self-contained stories, they are unified in that they all revolve around the Club of Queer Trades and its members. The name of this eccentric club comes from the fact that the only way in which to become a member is that "...the candidate must have invented the method by which he earns his living. It must be an entirely new trade..." (Pg. 14.) In other words, in this case the word queer is being used to denote something unique and unusual.

The stories in this collection are all mysteries of a sort, in which Chesterton satirizes the detective genre. At first glance, each story revolves around a particular crime, but as the stories unfold, it becomes apparent that what once first appeared to be criminal activity, might not be so sinister after all. Or is it? These stories are, without exception, witty and captivating, and are resplendent with a cast of idiosyncratic characters that carouse through Victorian London. The members of this unique social club seem to have an uncanny knack for getting into funny and unpredictable situations that only an innovative author such as Chesterton could ever hope to extricate them from the situations that he has put them in!

Originally published in 1905, this large print edition of The Club of Queer Trades includes the complete text of the original manuscript. Also included are more than thirty illustrations, drawn by the author. These are the same illustrations that accompanied the stories when they were first published, and they are, in their own right, as eccentric as the stories themselves.

These stories are narrated by Rupert Grant, a Sherlock Holmes-styled detective who is aided by his brother Basil. Unlike the oft overlooked Watson in the Holmes mysteries, it is Basil, rather than his detective brother, who tends to solve the mysteries contained in this collection. Throughout, it is obvious that Chesterton is poking fun at Holmes and detective fiction in general. In short, The Club of Queer Trades is a fun book to read, and Chesterton's satirical humor is sure to tickle your funny bone. The mysteries they contain are sophisticatedly complicated, yet at the same time whimsical and easy to follow. Entertaining to the extreme, they make for ideal light reading or for when you just need a little chuckle.

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