Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
  • Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
  • Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

3.6 17
by James Runcie
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Runcie (Canvey Island) launches a promising new clerical series with this collection of interlocking short whodunits featuring a latter-day Father Brown, Canon Sidney Chambers. In the first selection, set in 1953, the Anglican minister presides over the funeral of a suicide, Stephen Staunton. When Pamela Morton, whose husband was Staunton’s law partner and who believes Staunton was murdered, seeks Chambers out, Chambers agrees to ask questions informally, despite the skepticism of a friend on the force. His success in resolving Mrs. Morton’s concerns proves to be just the starting point as an amateur sleuth. In subsequent chapters, he investigates a jewel theft, suspicions that a doctor is performing euthanasia, and a strangulation in a jazz club. The last case, “Honourable Men,” is the strongest after the opening mystery, with a sophisticated plot centering on the murder of the actor playing Julius Caesar during a staging of the assassination scene from Shakespeare’s play. That Runcie is the son of former archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie lends biographical interest. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates. (May)
Library Journal
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.—Amy Nolan, St. Joseph P.L., MI
Kirkus Reviews
A cleric celebrates Queen Elizabeth II's coronation year by assisting a detective inspector in solving a series of genteel crimes. Canon Sidney Chambers, the bachelor vicar of Grantchester, has two best friends: Inspector Geordie Keating, who regularly loses to him at backgammon, and posh Amanda Kendall, junior curator at London's National Gallery, who shares a flat with his sister Jennifer. The six longish stories contained herein are threaded together by a seemly cast of villagers, parishioners, sharp-tongued Mrs. Maguire, the vicar's housekeeper and Leonard Graham, the effete assistant curate. In "The Shadow of Death," a congregant's request that Sidney investigate the suicide of her lover introduces him to Hildegard, the deceased man's wife, for a possible romantic entanglement. "A Question of Trust" introduces Sidney to a fancy engagement dinner in London and a missing ruby ring. "First, Do No Harm" returns him to Grantchester, where a pregnancy and a mercy killing precede a marriage. In "A Matter of Time," Sidney's love for jazz leads him to a Soho cafe that offers scat, drugs and strangulation. A portrait of Anne Boleyn disappears in "The Lost Holbein," and Amanda is kidnapped as she pursues it. And Lord Teversham, of Locket Hall, is murdered during a performance of Julius Caesar by one of the Roman assassins on stage in "Honourable Men." Only a churl could resist Sidney, whose musings on love, evil and morality, penchant for quoting snippets of poetry, preference for whiskey over the endless cups of tea he is offered, and ratiocinative success at unraveling crimes make him endearing.
Marilyn Stasio
…the coziest of cozy murder mysteries…Taken individually, each of these clerical whodunits poses a clever puzzle for armchair detectives. Viewed as a collective study of British life as it was lived when Elizabeth II first ascended the throne, these stories present a consistently charming and occasionally cutting commentary on "a postwar landscape full of industry, promise and concrete."
—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608198566
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
04/24/2012
Series:
Grantchester Series, #1
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
35,119
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.08(h) x 1.01(d)

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