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Sidney Chambers and the Shadows of Death
on 20 July 2012
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.