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Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation
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Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation

4.3 6
by James Runcie

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It's the summer of love in late 1960s. The Apollo 11 astronauts are preparing to land on the moon, the war in Biafra dominates the news and Basil D'Oliveira has just been dropped from the England cricket team before a test series in apartheid South Africa. In the midst of all this change, Sidney Chambers, the loveable English clergyman, continues his amateur


It's the summer of love in late 1960s. The Apollo 11 astronauts are preparing to land on the moon, the war in Biafra dominates the news and Basil D'Oliveira has just been dropped from the England cricket team before a test series in apartheid South Africa. In the midst of all this change, Sidney Chambers, the loveable English clergyman, continues his amateur sleuthing investigations.

A bewitching divorcée enlists Sidney's help in convincing her son to leave a hippie commune' at a soiree on Grantchester Meadows during May Week celebrations, a student is divested of a family heirloom; Amanda's marriage runs into trouble; Sidney and Hildegard holiday behind the Iron Curtain; Mrs. Maguire's husband returns from the dead; and an arson attack in Cambridge leads Sidney to uncover a cruel cast of blackmail involving his former curate.

In the rare gaps between church and crime, Sidney struggles with a persistent case of toothache, has his first flutter at the Newmarket races, and witnesses the creation of a classic rock song.

Charming, witty, intelligent, and filled with a strong sense of compassion, these six new stories are guaranteed to satisfy and delight this clerical detective's many fans.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Runcie continues to deepen his characterization of Sidney Chambers in the six short stories set in the 1960s and 1970s that comprise the engrossing fifth volume of the Grantchester Mysteries (after 2015’s Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sin). The rounded depiction is most in evidence in the title story, as the clergyman, now elevated to the position of Archdeacon of Ely, is asked by a woman he finds disturbingly attractive to help get her teenage son away from a commune, a request that becomes much more delicate when a murder occurs. Runcie is also adept at crafting mysteries without a corpse, as in the theft of a valuable necklace that coincides with a cattle stampede. In one lapse into Jessica Fletcher syndrome, Sidney’s visit to Germany, his wife’s homeland, lands him in the midst of a homicide investigation. The series’ strength lies less in the author’s devising and resolving baffling whodunits than in his portrayal of his all-too-human lead. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates (U.K.). (June)
From the Publisher

"Perfect reading for a sunny English garden." —Kate Saunders, The Times

"Runcie has honed his style of light, escapist, small-town crime stories to something approaching perfection." —Glasgow Herald

"Runcie works his magic using simple sentences, archetypal characters and a sense of suspense that creates an atmosphere of delicious anticipation." —Independent

"There is no reason at all why this series should not run and run and why Sidney Chambers should not occupy the same place in the pantheon as Miss Marple or Poirot." —The Catholic Herald

"Runcie continues to deepen his characterization of Sidney Chambers in the six short stories set in the 1960s and 1970s that comprise the engrossing fifth volume of the Grantchester Mysteries." —Publishers Weekly

Library Journal
Runcie's latest story collection is the fifth in his clerical series (Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins) that forms the basis of the popular PBS program Grantchester. In the title story, our Anglican vicar falls under the influence of an attractive divorcée Barbara Wilkinson, who needs Sidney's help in getting her son out of a cult run by awareness guru Fraser Pascoe. Pascoe turns up dead with no lack of suspects. "Grantchester Meadows" is the setting where unruly Cambridge students set off a stampede by normally placid cows during May Week and an heirloom necklace goes missing in the melee. "Love and Duty" places Sidney at a Pink Floyd concert at Royal Albert Hall with friend Amanda, who reveals her affair with Leonard Finch, Sidney's curate. Sidney then connects this information to an arson case. Chambers tends his flock and his jazz collection, all while coaxing clues from individuals under questioning. VERDICT Runcie's gently paced stories, now set in the nostalgic 1960s, will appeal to cozy fans who want less blood and more village shenanigans.—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO
Kirkus Reviews
Six interrelated new stories about the crime-solving priest who struggles with his own frailties. The Venerable Sidney Chambers, Archdeacon of Ely, is already facing at least one of "The Dangers of Temptation" in trying to give up alcohol for Lent when a deliberately provocative ex-parishioner who asks his help with her son draws Sidney and his friend Inspector Geordie Keating into the brutal murder of the leader of a commune dubbed the "Family of Love." A post-finals celebration for students at the University of Cambridge gets out of hand in "Grantchester Meadows," in which a cattle stampede and a missing heirloom necklace call on Sidney's crime-busting talents. "The Trouble with Amanda" is Sidney's former flame Amanda Richmond's husband, Henry, whose disturbed and disturbing ex-wife suddenly drowns. Even if Sidney can prove that Henry isn't guilty, what does the news mean for the Richmonds' marriage? In "The Return," Sidney's former housekeeper gets the shock of her life when her long-lost husband reappears for unknown reasons and tempts Sidney into a flutter at the horse races. "A German Summer" is a holiday for Sidney and his family on the East German island where Sidney's wife spent her summers as a child. Sidney endangers his own safety by trying to solve a crime everyone else wants him to leave alone. In "Love and Duty," it's nearly Lent again, and again Sidney plans to stop drinking at the same time he tries to bring tact to a blackmail case whose victim wants to keep his private life private. Although the stories' allusions to free love, the moon landing, and Pink Floyd remind the reader of passing time, Sidney's inquisitiveness, humility, and appreciation of both the sacred and the secular are as constant as in his previous adventures (Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins, 2015, etc.). The Swinging '60s give Runcie's sleuth in a cassock plenty of opportunity to stick his memorable nose in where it isn't wanted.

Product Details

Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
Grantchester Mysteries Series , #5
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

James Runcie is an award-winning filmmaker and the author of eight novels. Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death, the first in the Grantchester Mysteries series, was published in 2012, soon followed by Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night, Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil, and Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins. In November 2014, PBS began airing Grantchester, a primetime series starring James Norton as Sidney Chambers. James Runcie lives in London and Edinburgh.

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Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
The first I’ve read of this series, even with my familiarity with the Grantchester series on PBS, this is a collection of six short stories of about 50 pages where the detecting (now) Archdeacon Sidney Chambers works his magic to find the perpetrators, with or without the companionship of Inspector Geordie Keating. While these aren’t hard-biting stories, full of dames and shootouts, the thoughtful progression as the mystery unfolds combines with the personal asides and struggles faced by Sidney as he, in this collection, faces temptations in all its forms. What Runcie seems to accomplish best in this series is present characters that feel wholly of their time and circumstance, but are not so set in their own ways, beliefs or even prejudices as to be static. Using an Anglican Archdeacon is a daring move: making him return frequently to his love for Bechet, his German-born wife, a long-standing friendship that is laden with unrequited love with Amanda and even his sister’s unconventional relationship with a jazz musician of color just add to those layers. No one is perfect here, everyone is trying to navigate their way through life, the changes and the joys: most especially Sidney. A bit of a little lost boy, even now with his years in the collar and his rise to prominence in the church. From greed to lust through pride and prejudice, each character has their moment to present and tackle the issues that pop up in an ordinary life, and choices made in those moments are often fraught with self-doubt and uncertainty. One could expect these stories to bring a certain level of ‘preachiness’ with them, yet Runcie manages to present an entirely humanist set of values, always looking to do and be the best in the moment. Prose is poetic and lyrical, with details and descriptions presented with precision, providing imagery, emotion and a solid understanding of the moment. A lovely collection of short stories, sure to please fans of this series, intriguing to those of us who only know the Masterpiece version of these characters, and sure to bring in new fans to both. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
If you have seen the TV version of this story line, it will be familiar territory. If you haven't, or have not read any of the earlier stories, This collection can still be enjoyed, even without the background details on the various characters. They are a pleasant visit with interesting people.
nelsj041 More than 1 year ago
This is a thoughtful and interesting book in the beloved Grantchester series. I love reading these books because they show the human frailties along with the noble side of people, Sidney especially. The stories are written beautifully and I look forward to the next one. Unfortunately, they are up to 1970 by the end of this book, so how much farther can they go on?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simple yet thought provoking in the most enjoyable way.
Bev_Ash More than 1 year ago
I have read all the Sidney Chambers books and watched both seasons on PBS. Each book contains six mysteries for Sidney to solve. I thought the six in this book were not as good as previous ones have been. Poor Sidney will never change and after a while this gets a bit boring. However, the book as a whole was well worth the read. I like all the characters in the book and by now they are like catching up with old friends. Most of their actions were predictable, but there were a few surprises. I hope there is a new Sidney Chambers book in the future. I received this arc from NetGalley for an honest review.
ScotsLass More than 1 year ago
James Runcie in his book Sidney Cambers and the Dangers of Temptation has written a set of six novellas within this one book. The stories all deal in some manner with temptation, the temptation for revenge, the temptation of theft, the temptation of secret keeping, the temptation of murder and others. The leading character is Sidney Chambers, the Archbishop of Ely, in England. He has the habit of becoming involved with the police investigations that take place involving his friends and acquaintances, all the while continuing with his pastoral duties. In the true style of British village life, everyone knows the others business and is all too happy to have an opinion. These stories, although presented as mysteries, have a deeper moral story as explained by Sidney. He is compassionate and understanding and has a keen understanding of human nature and forgiveness. Although he states multiple times that he is not perfect, he understands that others are not perfect either. When I began reading this story I did not realize that there are several other books and a television series with these same characters. At the beginning it was difficult to get to know the characters but soon that did not matter much as the stories stood by themselves. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more if I had watched some of the television episodes or more of an introduction into the characters. If you were considering reading this book, perhaps starting with the earlier books or the television series would increase your enjoyment of them. However, I still enjoyed trying to keep up with the Sidney as he solves his mysteries. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA in exchange for a fair and honest review.