Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death: Grantchester Mysteries 1 Hardcover – 10 May 2012
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While the diminutive priest detective created by G. K. Chesterton led the way, Sidney Chambers is set fair to be a worthy successor ... this is quite an achievement (Barry Turner Daily Mail)
Each tale is beautifully crafted and surprising. I hope for many more volumes (A.N. Wilson Spectator)
A charmingly effective tale of detection ... Runcie's fine crime debut evokes oodles of churchy village atmosphere, circa 1953, [and] provides a satisfyingly old fashioned read (The Times)
No detective since Father Brown has been more engaging than Canon Sidney Chambers. Perfect company in bed (Salley Vickers, author of Miss Garnett's Angel)
The coziest of cozy murder mysteries ... These stories present a consistently charming and occasionally cutting commentary on "a postwar landscape full of industry, promise and concrete" (New York Times Book Review)
Chambers turns out to be a winning clergyman-sleuth, and Runcie's literary authority is repeatedly demonstrated in the construction of his elegant tales ... there is no denying the winning charm of these artfully fashioned mysteries (Barry Forshaw Independent)
Inspector Morse would appear to have a rival(Mary Crockett Scotland on Sunday)
The clerical milieu is well rendered as an affectionate eye is cast over post-war England - a perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon, a hammock and a glass of Pimm's (Guardian)
Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe is going to have to look to her laurels! Sidney Chambers's adventures are thoroughly captivating and engaging. I loved the character and I loved the highly evocative period feel and dialogue (Amanda Craig, author of Love in Idleness)
An undiluted pleasure (Scotsman)
From the son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, this is the first of The Grantchester Mysteries, six detective novels spanning thirty years of British history - from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1953 to the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981 - featuring the unforgettable vicar and sleuth, Sidney ChambersSee all Product description
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This book was a nice, easy read - it is absolutely perfect for the casual or time-poor crime fan. The stories and characters and engaging and likeable which goes a long way to making this book a low-stress read.
I like the fact that the book is broken up into 6 different parts, but has a sort of 'main story' as I mentioned above. A lot of writers would have been tempted to drag each of the 6 stories in this book out into a whole book so in order to try and find a balance between the crime themes and Sidney's personal and professional life, but Runcie has done the opposite - finding a good balance by saying less. There is a lot to be said for short-and-sweet.
I enjoy the characters, mainly because I know them from the television programme, however I am particularly enjoy the character of Sidney and his relationship to the Church and Christianity in general. I personally really enjoy reading about peoples interaction with and interpretation of their personal faith, and this book has plenty of it - although I am cautious to add, not so much of it that it detracts from the other themes of the book!
Finally, I enjoy the setting - mainly because Grantchester is only a few miles away and I know most of the place names! It makes things slightly entertaining for me...
What I disliked…
There are a handful of times where I found Runcie's method of description a little peculiar, but not so much that I can remember exactly what bothered me, and certainly not enough to stop reading.
Also it bothers me the way the characters talk during a discussion about homosexuality, but frankly that's my bad for reading a book set in the 50's. Having said that, Sidney is very progressive in this regard which makes these passages easier to digest.
This book was an easy and enjoyable read. Each story was entertaining, and due to the format of short stories, the romantic subplots I usually can't stand were engaging, but not drawn out.
The characters are lovable, although not hugely developed in many cases (again, due to the short-story format) but with 4 further books in the series, there is plenty of room for expansion. That said, the crime plots are the real selling points of this book. They are well thought out and a joy to read.
I strongly recommend this to anybody who enjoys a simple crime read - particularly those who are casual readers, are strapped for time, or struggle with longer stories.
This is not a book which will please readers who prefer their crime with all its gory details but those who prefer to read novels which remind them of Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer will love this book. I found the characters believable and interesting and the nineteen fifties background is well done. People are polite to each other and things which are talked about freely today are glossed over and not discussed. This is how it was then.
Sidney finds people will talk to him much more freely than they will to the police and he can ask questions and obtain answers which the police would fail to do. Sidney is a likeable character. He doesn't enjoy Christmas and finds Lent frustrating. He is irritated when his friend Amanda wishes a Labrador puppy on to him because she thinks he is lonely but soon finds Dickens indispensible to his happiness. He is gradually realising that like his friend Geordie he is never off duty.
As must always be the case with short stories, the plots are slight but they are well constructed and I enjoyed trying to work out who was responsible for the crimes. If you enjoy Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer's crime novels and modern authors such a R T Raichev then you will enjoy Sidney Chambers. I shall be watching out for future books in this series.
This makes it an ideal holiday read.
I'm a bit too young to remember the early 1950's, but life appeared to be much simpler then. Amongst Mrs Maguire's toad-in-the-hole and shepherds pie, games of backgammon and warm beer in the pub on Thursday evenings, a beautiful black Lab puppy called Dickens....we have Sidney the Canon, who butters his early morning toast before cutting them into soldiers......
These stories are very well written and for me personally, the TV series has really brought the characters to life. There aren't any breaks in the stories, and I think including a few chapters in each would have helped. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed them all, and will be adding a few more to my Kindle.