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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 20 July 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )|Verified Purchase
The book consists of six `long' short stories; a format with which readers of John Mortimer's Rumpole stories will be familiar. The stories also follow Sidney Chambers' life chronologically through nineteen fifty three and nineteen fifty four. Sidney is the mild mannered courteous Vicar of Grantchester near Cambridge. He meets a friend Inspector Geordie Keating every Thursday for two pints of beer and to play Backgammon. Sidney finds himself, frequently against his better judgement, involved in trying to investigate a variety of crimes of greater or lesser importance.

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.
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on 27 April 2017
Having Already seen and enjoyed the television series I hoped that I wasn't going to be disappointed and It wasn't. The characters and story lines were just right and as the book consists of a series of stories, it lends itself to being picked up and put down again.

This makes it an ideal holiday read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 5 July 2017
Well what can I say, except that I thoroughly enjoyed these stories. Sidney is a very likeable but unlikely solver of murders, and along with Geordie Keating and Amanda; who manages to get herself involved in some way or another, they solve all manner of crimes. And what crimes they are too, and include a stolen painting, a jazz singer, a murder that wasn't a murder and ones that were. A stolen ring for an engagement that never happened and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
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.
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on 11 September 2015
I bought this and the next volume in the series while they were on special offer for Kindle. It's rare that I don't finish a book, but I didn't finish this one and haven't even started the next. I admit I bought both on the strength of a) the TV series( enjoyable, well-casted fluff with a slightly darker edge at times) and b) having read and enjoyed James Runcie's debut novel The Discovery of Chocolate when it came out. I know from that book that Mr Runcie can write, and can write well. But that was literary fiction and this is genre detective fiction and it seems like a poor fit as if he has tried to squeeze his creative self into a mould that neither fits nor suits him. It's a shame because there is much scope for the characters, yet it never seems to gel.
Ho hum. I imagine the author has made a much better living from writing this series than he did from his original fiction, and that makes me sad for so many reasons.
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on 28 September 2017
I bought this book after enjoying the 3 series on TV and was surprised to find not one but several short stories. That said I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Each short story is based on a murder without the need for overly graphic blood and gore, focusing rather on relationships and circumstances instead. Unlike the series, the murders are solved by Sydney with Geordie serving as support and friendship. Throughout the short stories there is a definite link and reference back to previous cases and of course the emergence of Amanda as a potential love interest, Leonard the curate, Mrs McGuire the housekeeper and Dickens the dog. Overall a charming read.
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on 30 May 2017
This an enjoyable book to take on holiday and a good value download. I read a couple of James Runcie's earlier books and his style has much improved in the Granchester novels. As with most novels of this type you have to suspend credibility to believe that Sydney is always going to get involved, but it's not always a murder. If you are looking for a light read I'd highly recommend this book.
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on 2 June 2017
I bought this book because I enjoyed the television series but I found the book to be disappointing. This is surprising because usually the television or film adaptation is never as good as my visualisation of the book. The writing is stilted and the characters are wooden, my tip is see the series first then read the book.
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on 8 May 2016
What a delight Sidney Chambers is - and what a clever way to introduce him in this book which is really a selection of short stories rather than one long whodunit. Sidney is charming, eloquent and open-minded for a clergyman in the 50's, but there is a hint of vulnerability about him which is quite endearing. The "mysteries" do not stretch the mind very much but it is Sidney himself and his relationships with those around him which is the most intriguing. Looking forward to reading more Granchester.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
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.
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on 17 January 2015
Loved this book so much I have already downloaded the sequel. Portrays a post war Britain where everything was much simpler. Sidney and Geordie are however a crack team when it comes to solving crime. Sidney represents morals and faith that are lacking in 2015 with a tolerance and understanding of his flock. Never one to judge he nevertheless inhabits a world where law and order was respected. The landscape is lovingly described. His underlying potential love life is touching and his quotations from the scriptures and plays adds colour to the stories. His relationships, especially with Geordie and Amanda portray a loyal, steadfast friend and the book has an overall nostalgia for people of a certain age. Perfect for long summer days and cold winter nights as trip into our past.
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