Hot Best Seller

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Availability: Ready to download

It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II. Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot. Together with his roguish friend, in It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II. Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot. Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft at a New Year's Eve dinner party, the unexplained death of a jazz promoter's daughter, and a shocking art forgery that puts a close friend in danger. Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty, but he nonetheless manages to find time for a keen interest in cricket, warm beer, and hot jazz - as well as a curious fondness for a German widow three years his junior. With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown, The Grantchester Mysteries introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.


Compare

It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II. Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot. Together with his roguish friend, in It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II. Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot. Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft at a New Year's Eve dinner party, the unexplained death of a jazz promoter's daughter, and a shocking art forgery that puts a close friend in danger. Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty, but he nonetheless manages to find time for a keen interest in cricket, warm beer, and hot jazz - as well as a curious fondness for a German widow three years his junior. With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown, The Grantchester Mysteries introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.

30 review for Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

  1. 5 out of 5

    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede

    I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed watching the first season of Grantchester. Don't take me wrong, I enjoyed this book and its six short stories (some better than the others), but still, I liked the TV-show better. Why? Hmmm let's see Sidney Chambers, Vicar played by James Norton. He looks like a young Robert Redford. He is a great character and I like him in the book, but I truly enjoyed watching him on the telly... Then we have Inspector Geordie Keating play I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed watching the first season of Grantchester. Don't take me wrong, I enjoyed this book and its six short stories (some better than the others), but still, I liked the TV-show better. Why? Hmmm let's see Sidney Chambers, Vicar played by James Norton. He looks like a young Robert Redford. He is a great character and I like him in the book, but I truly enjoyed watching him on the telly... Then we have Inspector Geordie Keating played by Robson Green. I loved him since I first saw him on Wire in the Blood. Geordie Keating is a real plus in the book, a police inspector and a vicar that works together...brilliant! So read the book if you like cozy British mystery books, but watch the show if you want to be dazed by the hotness of these two men...and great stories of course!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    “Even the faithful can be frightened.” This cosy mystery was a breath of fresh air. 6 short stories centred around Canon Sidney Chambers, a Cambridge vicar. I loved Sidney as a character - he stomps over so many of the stereotypes most people associate with the religious. He doesn’t judge people and a lot of his views are quite liberal for the time in which this is set (1950s) plus he is partial to a whisky now and then. Something this book taught me - the difference between Whisky and Whiskey! “Even the faithful can be frightened.” This cosy mystery was a breath of fresh air. 6 short stories centred around Canon Sidney Chambers, a Cambridge vicar. I loved Sidney as a character - he stomps over so many of the stereotypes most people associate with the religious. He doesn’t judge people and a lot of his views are quite liberal for the time in which this is set (1950s) plus he is partial to a whisky now and then. Something this book taught me - the difference between Whisky and Whiskey! The former applies when referring to Scotch Whisky, the latter to Irish and Bourbon. Fun fact for you there! “The grass and fields were damp after the morning rain...Sidney ate his sandwich and drank his tea...he looked out over the surrounding countryside and thought that this was home; this was England.” The countryside being my favourite part of living in the UK, I connected to all the descriptions of the tranquility he found in his home. “This is what he wanted, he decided: moments of clarity and silence.” The stories covered 3 murders, a kidnapping, theft and a case of a possible compassionate killing by a doctor. The stories were short enough to read in bite sized chunks but long enough that I was invested, and wanted to find out whodunnit. Overall I loved following Sidney’s detective ways and I will be looking to continue this series. “What a mess people make of their lives.”

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I am not proud to admit that I got a copy of this book because I’ve been watching binging the ”Grantchester” tv show when I get an evening alone at home… and I am crushing very hard on James Norton… Honestly, cozy little mysteries are not my usual fare (my mother-in-law loves them, and I am always making fun of her about it…), and I do feel kind of weird getting so swoon-y about a man in a dog collar, but I couldn’t resist when I spotted this at the bookstore... Damn your gorgeous cheekbones, Ja I am not proud to admit that I got a copy of this book because I’ve been watching binging the ”Grantchester” tv show when I get an evening alone at home… and I am crushing very hard on James Norton… Honestly, cozy little mysteries are not my usual fare (my mother-in-law loves them, and I am always making fun of her about it…), and I do feel kind of weird getting so swoon-y about a man in a dog collar, but I couldn’t resist when I spotted this at the bookstore... Damn your gorgeous cheekbones, James! Set in a small village outside of Cambridge, “Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death” is a collection of six short stories in the grand tradition of pre-forensic science mystery solving: a person with zero law-enforcement expertise ends up helping an irascible and overworked detective solve a murder most foul or two. In my opinion, stories like this rest entirely on the strength of their characters, because, let’s face it, there is nothing new under the sun in this genre. The character of Sidney being so unusual for a vicar certainly helps make the stories in this book more interesting: had he been a more conventional man of the cloth, this might have gotten boring quickly, but he is unusually liberal and non-judgmental, he loves books and sultry jazz, he probably drinks a bit more than he should... Of course, I love that he has a thing for smart women, but it also sounds a bit like what I think of as “bookworm fantasy fulfillment”: he’s just so damn kind, honest, selfless and attractive… and hard to get! Does it make me roll my eyes? Yes. Does it also make me drool a little? Yup. In the first volume of Grantchester stories, Sidney helps solve the case of a strange suicide, a jewelry theft, the murder of a club-owner's daughter, a strange kidnapping and a final very public murder. I’m pretty good as suspense of disbelief, as I read a lot of speculative fiction, but I’ll admit that precious little mysteries like this always baffle me a little: how come so many murders and mysteries just happen to take place around those characters? Surely, living in the Cambridge suburbs is not that dangerous! Also, why is local police always so clueless? Characters like Sidney (or the lovely Phryne Fisher) only work if the detective they help out misses out painfully obvious stuff that they understand because they think so differently about human behavior… Or because people will say things to a vicar (or a flapper girl!) they wouldn’t say to the coppers. Aliens might be an easier sell on me, but what the Hell; this is still fun. My GR rating of “Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death” was always going to be about whether the book is a better experience than watching the show for me, and I have to say that my enjoyment of said show goes beyond simple eye candy: the character of Sidney is made very interesting in the adaptation because of his angst and moral dilemmas, the PTSD from his stint in the Scots Guards he still struggles with, his incapacity to figure out what to do about the infuriatingly inconsistent Amanda (why don’t you say what you want, you silly cow!) and his bromance with Geordie. The book is a bit different: Sidney also teaches theology, which I find fascinating, the sentimental entanglements are much less far-fetched (it makes for fun TV, but it would have been annoying in writing) and we are treated to a lot of his inner monologue and self-reflection. I think that was my favorite part: his musings about life, faith, morals, love and music. Philosophically inclined men are so damn dreamy... In the end, I can’t really decide if I like the book or show best: I think I prefer the book by a thin margin, because the stories are more varied (not just murders!). But I confess that I missed the vivid portrayal of the characters on the show, especially the snappy dialogues with Mrs. Maguire and Leonard… My mother-in-law can now make fun of me right back because I really enjoyed this silly, cozy book; it was the book equivalent of a really nice hot chocolate with a ton of marshmallows. I'll be reading more of Sidney's sleuthing adventures and keep watching the show... Definitely recommended if you are in the mood for something light but smart and exceedingly British.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Wow. What am I missing? I love the books that so many people lump with this one, but I found Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death to be unrewarding, stilted, shallow, stiff, and dry. I pre-ordered it in paperback after Karen of cornflowerbooks blog recommended it, and I was confident that I'd love it as I have loved the Flavia de Luce and Mma Ramotswe series--but oh! I was sooooooooooo wrong. Many people admit that the plot isn't compelling but then say what a great character Sidney is, a sta Wow. What am I missing? I love the books that so many people lump with this one, but I found Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death to be unrewarding, stilted, shallow, stiff, and dry. I pre-ordered it in paperback after Karen of cornflowerbooks blog recommended it, and I was confident that I'd love it as I have loved the Flavia de Luce and Mma Ramotswe series--but oh! I was sooooooooooo wrong. Many people admit that the plot isn't compelling but then say what a great character Sidney is, a statement I cannot understand. He is developed almost completely through direct description, as Runcie tells the reader about his beliefs and feelings in frequently obvious and awkward prose. He is usually suffering from pangs of guilt about neglecting some aspect of his job, his friends, his dog, or his social standing, and his love interest triangle is neither interesting nor loving. I rarely give one star, but one dimensional Sidney and his unrealistic, uninteresting capers in Cambridge sure earned that one. The cover *is* the best part of the book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Old-style mysteries... Set in the small Cambridgeshire town of Grantchester in the 1950s, this book is a throwback to the earlier days of mystery writing, before forensics and police procedure took over the world. Canon Sydney Chambers is a young priest in the Church of England who, in the grand old tradition, gets involved as an amateur detective in helping the police to investigate a series of crimes. There are six separate stories in the book, each roughly novella length, with plots ranging fr Old-style mysteries... Set in the small Cambridgeshire town of Grantchester in the 1950s, this book is a throwback to the earlier days of mystery writing, before forensics and police procedure took over the world. Canon Sydney Chambers is a young priest in the Church of England who, in the grand old tradition, gets involved as an amateur detective in helping the police to investigate a series of crimes. There are six separate stories in the book, each roughly novella length, with plots ranging from murder in a jazz club to art forgery and theft. The overarching storyline is primarily concerned with Sydney’s love-life (or lack thereof) as he is attracted firstly to the German wife of a murder victim and then to Amanda, a rich socialite friend of his sister. Sydney is a thoughtful and somewhat understated hero. He gets to his solutions through his understanding of human nature and by quiet questioning of witnesses and suspects - there are no car chases, gunfights or big dramatic climaxes. The author is the son of Robert Runcie, onetime Archbishop of Canterbury, so his description of the life and duties of a parish priest come over as very authentic. The various plots are interesting and often turn on the different social attitudes of the time towards such things as adultery or homosexuality, for example. Sydney and Amanda are both well-drawn characters, believable and likeable. Sydney’s friend Inspector Keating provides a down-to-earth counterpoint to Sydney’s often moralistic musings, but unfortunately has to drop into the role of stupid policeman on occasion to justify Sydney’s involvement. The stories are too short to allow for much characterisation of the victims and suspects and on the whole I think I would have preferred one more complex mystery rather than the short story format, but that’s just a matter of personal preference. There’s enough humour to keep the tone fairly light and in general this is a gentle, almost cosy, collection. Sometimes it’s too easy to work out the solution and occasionally Sydney’s attitudes are a bit too anachronistically 21st century, but these minor flaws don’t detract too much from the overall enjoyability of these old-style mysteries. Recommended. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  6. 5 out of 5

    Earnest Painter

    I found this book in a used bookstore when I was looking for something else. Having read all of the Agatha Christie books I can find, I longed for something like it to fill my time with reading that wasn't terribly heavy. Sometimes I like a good thick read, and sometimes I long for a light read to get through the weekend. I slipped into these stories like I'd always known them. A new book (new to me) that feels like an old friend, just like meeting somebody and hitting it off immediately as if y I found this book in a used bookstore when I was looking for something else. Having read all of the Agatha Christie books I can find, I longed for something like it to fill my time with reading that wasn't terribly heavy. Sometimes I like a good thick read, and sometimes I long for a light read to get through the weekend. I slipped into these stories like I'd always known them. A new book (new to me) that feels like an old friend, just like meeting somebody and hitting it off immediately as if you'd known each other for years. Sidney Chambers isn't the arrogant Hercule Poirot, and he isn't as smugly shrewd as Miss Marple. He has doubts and desires. But, he loves what he does and the relationships he has with the other characters develop naturally. He's slightly smarter than he gives himself credit for. In short, Chambers is delightful and relaxing. Thank you, Runcie, for picking up the torch of quaint English mysteries. My life is a little better for having stumbled across your book. I can't wait to read the others.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ammar

    Imagine this ... Whiskey, jazz, and murder. It does sound interesting. Doesn't it ? Canon Sidney Chambers a priest turned detective in the Grantchester in Cambridge. The six stories in this volume range from robbery to killing to forging art work. They all take place between 1953 and 1955. The cozy mysteries are funny and witty with a cast of characters that will stick with you. Sidney is not the ordinary priest, he is modern, young and in a way knows the mentality of his parish. He enjoys a dri Imagine this ... Whiskey, jazz, and murder. It does sound interesting. Doesn't it ? Canon Sidney Chambers a priest turned detective in the Grantchester in Cambridge. The six stories in this volume range from robbery to killing to forging art work. They all take place between 1953 and 1955. The cozy mysteries are funny and witty with a cast of characters that will stick with you. Sidney is not the ordinary priest, he is modern, young and in a way knows the mentality of his parish. He enjoys a drink, enjoys a nice jazz record, and finds himself at the calling of an Inspector Keating a friend of him. The series is enjoyable and after reading this volume I ordered the PBS series from my library to watch those 6 stories haha.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bettie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Actual rating 3.5 stars. Having watched and loved the show Grantchester, I decided I'd give the books the show is based on a go. And the book was enjoyable, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the show. The show adds a wonderful depth of character to Sidney that the book just does not employ. Though, I have to admit that I loved the fact that in the book Sidney could be a delightful grump at times. The show also benefits from having James Norton and Robson Green as Sidney and his friend Inspector Geor Actual rating 3.5 stars. Having watched and loved the show Grantchester, I decided I'd give the books the show is based on a go. And the book was enjoyable, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the show. The show adds a wonderful depth of character to Sidney that the book just does not employ. Though, I have to admit that I loved the fact that in the book Sidney could be a delightful grump at times. The show also benefits from having James Norton and Robson Green as Sidney and his friend Inspector Geordie Keating. Both men are tremendous actors, and are extremely easy on the eyes as well. (I've had a thing for Robson since watching Wire in the Blood back in the day. And I've been trying to watch as much of James' other works as possible.) As for the book, I liked some of the stories better than others, and I think the book really hit its stride in the second half. The last three stories were really good, I thought. The book is an easy to read British mystery cozy, so if you like those, you should like this book as well. A plus--at least for me--is that the book was divided into six short (but overall connected) stories, so if you didn't have a lot of time to read, you could read one story in this book and feel like you accomplished something. I am planning to read the next book in the series sometime in the near future. If you read this book and like it, then please WATCH THE SHOW. If cozy mysteries aren't your thing, then please WATCH THE SHOW anyway. JUST WATCH THE SHOW IT IS FAB.

  10. 5 out of 5

    K.J. Charles

    I honestly can't see the charm. Harks back to Golden Age detective mysteries, complete with implausible dialogue, unlikely clues, and unconvincing set-up. (First story: a woman seeks out a vicar rather than eg a policeman to say that she's sure her lover's death wasn't suicide and demand he solve the mystery. She is angry when he doesn't immediately find the killer. When he finds the killer she is angry there will be a prosecution because this risks exposing the affair nobody would have known ab I honestly can't see the charm. Harks back to Golden Age detective mysteries, complete with implausible dialogue, unlikely clues, and unconvincing set-up. (First story: a woman seeks out a vicar rather than eg a policeman to say that she's sure her lover's death wasn't suicide and demand he solve the mystery. She is angry when he doesn't immediately find the killer. When he finds the killer she is angry there will be a prosecution because this risks exposing the affair nobody would have known about if she hadn't *told the vicar to find the goddamn killer in the first place and nagged him to do so*. OK, sure.) Clunky writing, too. Every second sentence of dialogue ends in an ellipsis... For no reason... Which becomes quite irritating quite quickly... And lots of scene setting of the kind where the hero picks up a newspaper and muses on whatever Wikipedia said happened On This Day In 1953, or randomly remembers that the NHS exists. I only read the first story so maybe they get better but there's still about 40 Mrs Bradleys I haven't read so I'm bailing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Reviewed for Library Journal, starred review: There is something very appealing about a man of the cloth playing at detective; the convergence of the sacred with the evils of the modern world can make for delightful mystery reading. Novelist Runcie (The Discovery of Chocolate; Canvey Island), who just happens to be the son of the former archbishop of Canterbury, has bestowed upon us a new and delightful clerical detective. Canon Sidney Chambers is a relatively young vicar with a passion for jazz Reviewed for Library Journal, starred review: There is something very appealing about a man of the cloth playing at detective; the convergence of the sacred with the evils of the modern world can make for delightful mystery reading. Novelist Runcie (The Discovery of Chocolate; Canvey Island), who just happens to be the son of the former archbishop of Canterbury, has bestowed upon us a new and delightful clerical detective. Canon Sidney Chambers is a relatively young vicar with a passion for jazz and backgammon who resides in the quintessential English village of Grantchester. This reluctant shamus continually finds himself embroiled in a variety of mysteries from outright murder to a jewel heist. Fortunately, Sidney has a stalwart companion in Insp. Geordie Keating, who also serves as his drinking and backgammon partner. VERDICT: This is a strong series debut with an affable amateur detective set against a post‚ World War II England that is both evocative and informative. A gentle mystery read with strong appeal for devotees of ecclesiastical and English village mysteries.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beth Dickey

    I saw the TV show first (GRANTCHESTER, shown on PBS Masterpiece Mystery) , then read the book. As much as I loved the show ( I particularly loved the music, the acting, and whole style of it), I believe I loved the book even more. The book is different from the show: the storylines are somewhat the same but many details are different. For example, the mystery regarding the lost ring does not involve murder in the book, and Sidney doesn't spend the night in the jazz singer's bed. In fact the book I saw the TV show first (GRANTCHESTER, shown on PBS Masterpiece Mystery) , then read the book. As much as I loved the show ( I particularly loved the music, the acting, and whole style of it), I believe I loved the book even more. The book is different from the show: the storylines are somewhat the same but many details are different. For example, the mystery regarding the lost ring does not involve murder in the book, and Sidney doesn't spend the night in the jazz singer's bed. In fact the book places more emphasis on Sidney's Christian beliefs, and his struggle to fulfill his role as a priest. The whole Amanda/Sidney/Hildegard timeline is different in the book. Leonard is not portrayed so much as a bumbler. I plan to read the rest of the Sidney Chambers books but can't decide if I should wait and watch the second season of Grantchester before the next book. Highly recommended!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 I am not a big cozy reader, though there are a few series that I still keep up with, but I can definitely see this series joining them. In this series debut, set in 1953 England, Sidney Chambers is a canon, though he is the first to admit he is not a very good one as he feels he could always to more for his parishioners. The villagers are varied but all interesting, there are a few different mysteries needing solving, so Sidney along with his backgammon inspector playing friend work together 3.5 I am not a big cozy reader, though there are a few series that I still keep up with, but I can definitely see this series joining them. In this series debut, set in 1953 England, Sidney Chambers is a canon, though he is the first to admit he is not a very good one as he feels he could always to more for his parishioners. The villagers are varied but all interesting, there are a few different mysteries needing solving, so Sidney along with his backgammon inspector playing friend work together to solve them. I can definitely see this joining the ranks of the BBC mysteries aired on television. A delightful and fun romp through a small English village will appeal to cozy lovers. ARC from NetGalley.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie

    I liked the idea of a 1950s sleuthing vicar, I love older detective stories, and having heard James Runcie speak once or twice I had high hopes that the book would be entertaining and witty, like its author. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I found the characterization poor - all of the characters, including the hero Sidney Chambers, seemed one-dimensional. I found it difficult to remember, let alone care, who was who. The characters themselves seemed to share my indifference, with little or no emotiona I liked the idea of a 1950s sleuthing vicar, I love older detective stories, and having heard James Runcie speak once or twice I had high hopes that the book would be entertaining and witty, like its author. Unfortunately, it wasn't. I found the characterization poor - all of the characters, including the hero Sidney Chambers, seemed one-dimensional. I found it difficult to remember, let alone care, who was who. The characters themselves seemed to share my indifference, with little or no emotional reaction to the events. Chambers is somewhat unconvincingly open minded in certain directions - he is sympathetic towards an adulterer and homosexuals, yet he appears to have no concern or compassion whatsoever for the various murderers facing execution. There is also no apparent reason for him to become involved in detection in the first place - no explanation as to why anyone would expect him to, or what qualification he has. He is described as charming and engaging, but nothing he does or says supports this. In fact he comes across as utterly forgettable. I also found the period details unconvincing - there are some glaring errors (the mistake over the age of consent being one)and continuity errors (we are repeatedly told that Chambers served in the war, and as a soldier, not a chaplain, then later the author describes how both in the war and later he often found himself knocking on doors to give the news of a death..) The period details are often very heavy-handed: lots of name dropping (John Cage, Anthony Blunt) but very little in the way of convincing detail. I could forgive a lot of this if the stories themselves were more interesting or gripping, but unfortunately they are all very predictable and, to be honest, dull. I'm sad, as I really wanted to like this book, but I can't recommend it and won't be reading the sequels.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ije the Devourer of Books

    'It was his first case of adultery, never mind murder.' What would we do without the clergy? I really enjoyed book one of this series about an English priest who turns his hand to solving crimes. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series and watching the dramatisation of the books. Good times ahead! In this first book, the 'Shadow of Death' we meet Canon Sidney Chambers who is quite happy with his life as a priest. He wasn't intending to become a detective but after conducting a fu 'It was his first case of adultery, never mind murder.' What would we do without the clergy? I really enjoyed book one of this series about an English priest who turns his hand to solving crimes. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series and watching the dramatisation of the books. Good times ahead! In this first book, the 'Shadow of Death' we meet Canon Sidney Chambers who is quite happy with his life as a priest. He wasn't intending to become a detective but after conducting a funeral one of the bereaved makes a confession to him. Pamela Morton tells Father Sidney all about her affair with the deceased man, Stephen Staunton. They were about to run away together and they were happy. Stephen Staunton could not then have committed suicide because he had a new love and was planning a new life with Pamela. Sidney after considering the poor state of Pamela's marital vows decides to poke around, ask a few questions and see what he can find in order to allay Pamela's concerns. Just like concerned clergy should do. And that is when it all goes wrong because Sidney discovers that there is more to this apparent suicide than meets the eye. And there is more to Sidney than meets the eye because he is an ex-soldier and fought in the second world war. He is acquainted with death especially the 'shadow of death' from the World War Two and he recognises the shadows in the circumstances before him: An apparent suicide. An adulterous affair. A wife who has had to grapple with a distant husband and loneliness. An ex-soldier who was also an alcoholic. And as Sidney gently questions, considers clues and weighs up circumstances he eventually gets to the truth and of course solves the case. The most enjoyable aspect of this book is that it is a set of six different mysteries. Each one sees Sidney in different circumstances and balancing his work as a priest with his skills as an emerging sleuth. Each case draws upon aspects of Sidney's character and each story reveals a bit more of him to the readers. We are left at the end of the book knowing that Sidney is a very nice chap and a hard working vicar with a deep love for the people around him, his congregation and students and the Church of England, and we discover that Sidney is simply endearing. He is the kind of person that everyone wants as their local priest. I enjoyed this set of stories although I didn't get the feeling that Sidney did much detailed detecting. He asks a few questions, considers a few clues and pieces the mysteries together like a jig saw puzzle but in a sense this is nice in its simplicity and easy to follow but not easy to solve. The reason Sidney can do this is because he is a great observer and very reflective. His thinking and observing have him at the cutting edge of crime detection and have us as readers fully assure that Canon Sidney will solve the mystery. Can he do it? Yes he can! In the second story 'A Question of Trust' Sidney finds himself at a dinner party on New Year's eve but the evening turns sour when an engagement ring is stolen. Sidney is pressured into the role of detective even though he doesn't want to and does he solve it? Yes he does! This story is great because we get to see Sidney dealing with the New Year and all its range of church services and expectations. He is drained and rather tired of the expectations that are placed on him by others. As a fellow priest I feel for you Sidney! Nevertheless he gets to the bottom of things like a good priest should. Does he solve it? Yes he does! In 'First Do no Harm' Sidney has to find out whether or not two of his parishioners are involved in murder. Not wanting to see his parishioners unjustly accused Sidney turns his investigative skills to finding out what happened and does his best to save his parishioners from the hangmans noose (hanging was still legal) at that time. And does he solve it? Yes he does!! And thank goodness too but as is the case with human nature there is so much more to this than meets the eye. Having perfected the art of boiling an egg, the story 'A Matter of Time' sees Sidney enjoying a night out in a London jazz club with his friend Inspector Keating. The evening comes to a sudden end when a body is discovered. Sidney finds himself involved in the case and he assists the police. Does he solve the mystery? Yes he does! And perhaps the police should be paying him for solving all these crimes! The 'Lost Holbein' which is a darker story with a creepy edge, finds Sidney on the trail of a missing painting. One missing friend later does he find it? Well sort of! And in 'Honourable Men' a play goes fatally wrong and Sidney becomes one of the key actors as the drama surrounding this case unfolds, and as usual does he lead the investigation from behind? Yes he does! And at the end of these highly enjoyable stories, I find that I have become a fan and not just because I am a priest but because Sidney Chambers is just such a really interesting character. Sidney has become my hero: Self - effacing, caring, compassionate, talented, a good theologian, prayerful, determined and what (in theological college) we would call a 'reflective practitioner'. I loved seeing how Sidney develops as a person and as a priest and how he solve crimes. I shall definitely be reading the other volumes in this series. Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Very enjoyable short stories of the cosy crime variety. Canon Sidney Chambers, a jazz loving Anglican vicar in a small village near Cambridge in the 1950s gets involved in solving a number of crimes with his friend police inspector Geordie Keating. The BBC series, Granchester based on these stories does a great job of bringing them to life and actor James Norton does a perfect job of bringing Sidney to life.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Perhaps this novel didn't have as much depth to it as the recently published prequel but it still kept me engrossed. This is definitely a character driven novel and one cannot help but root for the fictional Sidney Chambers during his quest to become a better person and also to solve the occasional mystery.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Stoolfire

    Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, the first book in The Grantchester Mysteries follows Sidney Chambers, an unconventional small-town vicar who enjoys jazz, beer and cricket and often finds himself working with Inspector Keating. He inquires into several crimes, as he can be where the police cannot, including the suicide of a solicitor, jewelry theft, murder, and art forgery. Like clergymen, detectives are never off duty. I greatly enjoyed watching Grantchester when it aired on PBS's Master Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, the first book in The Grantchester Mysteries follows Sidney Chambers, an unconventional small-town vicar who enjoys jazz, beer and cricket and often finds himself working with Inspector Keating. He inquires into several crimes, as he can be where the police cannot, including the suicide of a solicitor, jewelry theft, murder, and art forgery. Like clergymen, detectives are never off duty. I greatly enjoyed watching Grantchester when it aired on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery, so of course when I realized that it was actually adapted from a book series by James Runcie I realized that I had to check into it. The first book is actually six short stories: "The Shadow of Death", "A Question of Trust", "First, Do No Harm", "A Matter of Time", "The Lost Holbein", and "Honourable Men". While I enjoyed this cozy mystery, I actually much prefer the tv adaptation much more. Two of the episodes are not based on the short stories, but otherwise they relatively follow Runcie's work. The changes made for the adaptation only benefited the characters and story which seemed to have more weight and more memorable. The adaptation also seemed like less of a cozy, or was that just me. Final verdict: Watch Grantchester instead.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    So, I may have a crush on the PBS show that this book is based on, Grantchester. Sidney Chambers may have returned from WWII and dedicated his life to the church, but he still likes jazz, can get his head turned by a pretty lady, and throws back some whiskey with his police pal in the local pub (or anywhere, really). I liked reading the book after watching the first two episodes because it certainly gave me a clear image of each character to work with. This book was ideal for making into a serie So, I may have a crush on the PBS show that this book is based on, Grantchester. Sidney Chambers may have returned from WWII and dedicated his life to the church, but he still likes jazz, can get his head turned by a pretty lady, and throws back some whiskey with his police pal in the local pub (or anywhere, really). I liked reading the book after watching the first two episodes because it certainly gave me a clear image of each character to work with. This book was ideal for making into a series bc it is broken up into several mini mysteries with the main character's personal life as the thread that holds them all together. Some of the mysteries were more exciting than others, and I honestly think the TV show has made some nice adjustments. If you like the show, this is a good companion read. If you haven't watched the show, well, I'm sorry.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison

    When I picked this book up I didn't realise that it's actually a collection of mini-mysteries rather than a one mystery novel. Some of the cases were more intriguing than others, as I couldn't help but feel that some of the crimes were wrapped up just a little bit too neatly. The eponymous hero is a likeable enough chap, and the period setting (this novel starts after WWII) adds interest, but it was a bit mild-mannered and dull for my tastes. I would have to be in the mood for something a bit bl When I picked this book up I didn't realise that it's actually a collection of mini-mysteries rather than a one mystery novel. Some of the cases were more intriguing than others, as I couldn't help but feel that some of the crimes were wrapped up just a little bit too neatly. The eponymous hero is a likeable enough chap, and the period setting (this novel starts after WWII) adds interest, but it was a bit mild-mannered and dull for my tastes. I would have to be in the mood for something a bit bland before I read another one in the series, but I wouldn't discount the whole series after having read this book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    I dithered between 3.5 and 4 stars. Has excellent sense of time and place (1950s Britain), and I would happily read another.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    I like mysteries that are "cozy" insofar as I don't like dwelling on violence. I am interested in characterization, the puzzle, &, if possible, something a little deeper. This book works on all levels. I started reading this when I heard Granchester was coming to PBS & the description of the TV show persuaded me to try the books. I like the TV show and I like the books, but the plot of the TV show seems to veer significantly from the books themselves. Runcie writes in the form of short stories, I like mysteries that are "cozy" insofar as I don't like dwelling on violence. I am interested in characterization, the puzzle, &, if possible, something a little deeper. This book works on all levels. I started reading this when I heard Granchester was coming to PBS & the description of the TV show persuaded me to try the books. I like the TV show and I like the books, but the plot of the TV show seems to veer significantly from the books themselves. Runcie writes in the form of short stories, but multiple characters in the stories appear in multiple stories, so it almost seems like a novel. However, each story involves a mystery solved. Often a character introduced in one story incidentally becomes a focus of another story. Perhaps other writers have used this technique before, but I have not encountered it, & found it interesting & also well done. One aspect of the book that I appreciated was the main character's ongoing inner dialogue in which he sought to reconcile his priestly duties to aspects of his life, including the detective work. I found the discussions of Chambers's faith easier to relate to than those in the Father Brown series because Chambers has doubts. I am a Unitarian Universalist, so the doubts of Chambers certainly seem more real than the certainties of Chesterton.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    3.5 stars I started watching the show a couple of years ago, but then stopped once characters started having affairs. I was told that this does not happen in the books, so I gave it a go. I enjoyed reading this, but it was something I could put down since it is rather slow moving. It contains six mysteries that happen over a years time. Sidney is a likable character and I liked Amanda much more in the books than the show. Overall, I liked it and may continue with the series...or I may not. Content 3.5 stars I started watching the show a couple of years ago, but then stopped once characters started having affairs. I was told that this does not happen in the books, so I gave it a go. I enjoyed reading this, but it was something I could put down since it is rather slow moving. It contains six mysteries that happen over a years time. Sidney is a likable character and I liked Amanda much more in the books than the show. Overall, I liked it and may continue with the series...or I may not. Content Warning: mild language and some violence 2019 challenge: A book set in an abbey, cloister, monastery, vicarage, or convent (vicarage)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lia

    Longest sixteen days of my reading life in a long time! Although I gave this book one star, quite frankly it's getting more that it deserves. I found the characterisation lazy, the dialogue contrived, and at times, flippant, coupled with some bland ugly storylines that were deeply troubling, and offensive. I know creative writing is hard work, but there is no excuse for this kind of drivel masquerading as a short story collection. At first I had thought this book was a light-hearted collection of Longest sixteen days of my reading life in a long time! Although I gave this book one star, quite frankly it's getting more that it deserves. I found the characterisation lazy, the dialogue contrived, and at times, flippant, coupled with some bland ugly storylines that were deeply troubling, and offensive. I know creative writing is hard work, but there is no excuse for this kind of drivel masquerading as a short story collection. At first I had thought this book was a light-hearted collection of stories narrated by curate Sidney Chambers, with several characters making repeat appearances. It was midway through the second story, when I realised the stories and characters reminded me of Downton Abbey - In essence a romanticised pseudo-past, in this case a romanticised retro 50s England with the added bonus of modern British English vernacular; another sign of lazy writing that made my eyes roll involuntarily. But in spite of the retro romanticisation of these stories, and the awful superficial dialogue I did became invested in the second story, the one with the worst dialogue within the whole collection - A funny irony! But as I hit the midway mark, I became impatient. In the story entitled 'First, Do No Harm' The prose waffled incessantly about duty, bending rules, and oaths. But sure enough it all came to a 'good end' - one which was peculiarly stilted and deeply contrived. Out of all the stories, this was the one that disturbed me the most - (view spoiler)[ A doctor killing off (elderly) patients is no light matter, and not something that should ever be trivialised. And the doctor essentially getting away with it was the most insulting aspect of the trivialisation of what he did. (hide spoiler)] I felt that if things didn't improve, I'd be putting the book down. Oh I'm a glutton for punishment! The story after 'First, Do No Harm' was just as bad. But as I was almost at the end, I felt one more story wouldn't hurt. I get to 'The Lost Holbein', thinking whoopee the last story... No such luck, it's the second to last story. Well I'm done. The Holbein is the last story within the collection I'm reading. 'The Lost Holbein' as claimed was the last story I read. It came closest to reasonably okay storytelling, simply because one of the characters reflected how real people react in the aftermath of trauma. The reality of what took place prior, I can only describe as PG nonsense.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    Oh yeah, I read this last week and forgot to review it. The TV show wins over the book for me. The writing is dry and stilted, and I like Sidney better when I can't hear his inner monologue, I suppose. Still, I didn't dislike this whole book as much as I thought I would when first reading it. Either I got used to the writing style or it got better, who knows. What I found intriguing is only the first mystery--the suicide that isn't a suicide--is the same on the TV show (pretty much scene-for-scene Oh yeah, I read this last week and forgot to review it. The TV show wins over the book for me. The writing is dry and stilted, and I like Sidney better when I can't hear his inner monologue, I suppose. Still, I didn't dislike this whole book as much as I thought I would when first reading it. Either I got used to the writing style or it got better, who knows. What I found intriguing is only the first mystery--the suicide that isn't a suicide--is the same on the TV show (pretty much scene-for-scene). The other episodes were loose interpretations or mash-ups of the various stories, and I have to say I think the show improved on the plots some, especially the one with the Angel of Death doctor, which just sort of peters out in the book. But not knowing how each story was going to end kept the book interesting. I also liked Book Amanda better than Show Amanda, since Book Amanda dumps Guy Hopkins after the incident with the engagement ring. Go, Book Amanda! Trigger warning, though--in one story, the plot takes kind of a weird left turn when Amanda is kidnapped by a Creepy Dude, and we get to see the whole thing from her perspective. I don't know if they're planning to do this one on the show, but... it's hard to read, and the threat of rape is there, if not the actual act. I liked the mystery plot, which involved a lost painting of Anne Boleyn, but it seemed to be set up just so Amanda could get kidnapped and then rescued by Sidney. Sigh. I adored the TV show and am impatiently waiting for more of it, but the book leaves a lot to be desired. I'm going to go back to reading about Miss Fisher and Maisie Dobbs for a while. ETA: Oh, I forgot one other thing that annoyed me about this book. It contains whole sentences in Latin and German, and never provides a direct translation. You're just supposed to know, and I get the sense that the book is looking down on me for not immediately knowing where all of Sidney's quotations are from, too. It's a snobby book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anmiryam

    I became interested in reading this series after I watched a couple of episodes of the television series that is based on them. How could I not relish looking at James Norton as the dishy COE priest Sidney Chambers?* The interconnected short stories that chronicle Sidney's initial forays into solving mysteries is cut from the same cloth as the series, but is tailored differently. The crimes Sidney is called upon to solve here vary in complexity and serve more as a vehicle for getting to know Sidn I became interested in reading this series after I watched a couple of episodes of the television series that is based on them. How could I not relish looking at James Norton as the dishy COE priest Sidney Chambers?* The interconnected short stories that chronicle Sidney's initial forays into solving mysteries is cut from the same cloth as the series, but is tailored differently. The crimes Sidney is called upon to solve here vary in complexity and serve more as a vehicle for getting to know Sidney and his circle, than as the centerpiece. Throughout the tone is gentle, with more time spent on Sidney's struggles to mesh his calling as a man of God with his activities as an amateur detective. Even when the crimes are brutal there is a contemplative feel to Runcie's exploration of Sidney's considerations of morality and communal life in postwar Cambridge which made this a wonderful book to read each evening before bed. I especially relished the erudition Sidney demonstrates in solving some of the crimes -- his encyclopedic knowledge of literature is charming if irritating! I'm passing this on to my MIL who lived in Cambridge during this period and hope she enjoys them as well. As time permits I expect I will pick up the subsequent entries into the series and relax as Sidney's story unfolds. *I actually like his performance as a despicable murderous psychopath in Happy Valley, but there's no accounting for taste.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    I'm completely in love with this show right now. The characters are lovely, the relationships complicated, the scenery beautiful... Ahem. Anyway, it's a complex, politically aware, smart, savvy show and I adore it. It's based on this book which is...perfectly pleasant, I suppose (with the exception of the story where (view spoiler)[Amanda is sexually assaulted and it's practically laughed off (hide spoiler)] ), but frankly, verging on dull -- I think if I did not have the more vibrant TV-versions o I'm completely in love with this show right now. The characters are lovely, the relationships complicated, the scenery beautiful... Ahem. Anyway, it's a complex, politically aware, smart, savvy show and I adore it. It's based on this book which is...perfectly pleasant, I suppose (with the exception of the story where (view spoiler)[Amanda is sexually assaulted and it's practically laughed off (hide spoiler)] ), but frankly, verging on dull -- I think if I did not have the more vibrant TV-versions of the characters in my mind, I would flat-out say this book is boring. I definitely spent the entire time I was reading it wishing I was watching the show instead. Major props to Daisy Coulam, who developed the series; probably this book's greatest use would be for anyone interested in gleaning tips on how to create an intelligent adaptation. For everyone else: WATCH THE SHOW! You know...for the plot.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I had already watched and enjoyed the TV series of Grantchester so I was eager to find out how it compared to the books and feel overall that they complement each other well. There are differences between them - Sidney Chambers is a more reflective, less troubled character in the book than in the TV series. Reading the book I enjoyed the way Sidney reflects on his role as a priest and how becoming involved in investigations may keep him from important work in his parish. The stories aren't rushed I had already watched and enjoyed the TV series of Grantchester so I was eager to find out how it compared to the books and feel overall that they complement each other well. There are differences between them - Sidney Chambers is a more reflective, less troubled character in the book than in the TV series. Reading the book I enjoyed the way Sidney reflects on his role as a priest and how becoming involved in investigations may keep him from important work in his parish. The stories aren't rushed as Sidney contemplates the implications of events and the moral issues arising from them. Being set in the 1950s it is interesting to see the difference in the attitudes of society on some issues.

  29. 4 out of 5

    AngryGreyCat

    I read this as the November read for the Kindle English Mystery book club. I use the word read lightly. This book is organized into a series of loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. I read the first one and then skipped around and read another. Finally, I skimmed most of it. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into the character or the book. To be fair I don’t really read many historical fictions and very few with religious undertones, so it might work for other readers I read this as the November read for the Kindle English Mystery book club. I use the word read lightly. This book is organized into a series of loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. I read the first one and then skipped around and read another. Finally, I skimmed most of it. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into the character or the book. To be fair I don’t really read many historical fictions and very few with religious undertones, so it might work for other readers.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Picked this up because I have been enjoying Grantchester on Masterpiece Theater. It's an enjoyable series of mysteries almost like a series of short stories. Enjoyed most of them except for the last which was handled better on the TV show. Sidney is an endearing character and I love the Thursday night barroom discussions between Sidney & Geordie. *updated* Just watched the season finale of Grantchester. My bookish friends will know I rarely say this but... TV show ending was better than the book. Picked this up because I have been enjoying Grantchester on Masterpiece Theater. It's an enjoyable series of mysteries almost like a series of short stories. Enjoyed most of them except for the last which was handled better on the TV show. Sidney is an endearing character and I love the Thursday night barroom discussions between Sidney & Geordie. *updated* Just watched the season finale of Grantchester. My bookish friends will know I rarely say this but... TV show ending was better than the book.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.