Sidney Chambers, the Vicar of Grantchester, is a 32-year-old bachelor. Tall, with eyes the colour of hazelnuts, he is both an unconventional clergyman and a reluctant detective. Working in association with his friend, Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney is able to go where the police cannot, eliciting surprise revelations and confessions from his parishioners; whether it involves the apparent suicide of a local solicitor, a scandalous jewellery theft at a New Year’s Eve dinner party, or the unexplained death of a jazz promoter’s daughter.
Alongside his inquiries, Sidney also manages to find time to enjoy cricket, warm beer, hot jazz, and the company of an attractive, lively young woman called Amanda.
©2012 James Runcie (P)2012 Isis Publishing Ltd
As many others, I became aware of this series from the BBC production, which I found to be delightful. I was wary of the books, as others felt they were not as good as the television series. However, my response is the opposite I love this first book in the series. Sidney is a deeper, more realistic character in his thoughts and relationships. I even feel the cases were more interesting and true-to-life in the book. And, I find, having watched the television series didn't spoil the book either.
My one disappointment is with the narrator. Others have noted he's too old for Sidney and his female voices are read in a falsetto. I agree. But the book is still well worth the listen and I can't wait to start the next book.
Say something about yourself!
I really enjoyed watching the first season of the PBS series Grantchester. I loved the characters, the setting, the humor, the quirkiness, the interplay of the stories, and the subtle dynamics between the characters. Reading this book was like looking into a fun house mirror. The stories are similar but at the same time almost everything is completely altered and different. The narration was flat and the voice too old. If you are looking for the charm from the mystery series I'm afraid you won't find it here. I'm giving up. I'll just wait until season two arrives and watch. This is one of the rare occasions for me when the "movie" was better than the book.
Book blogger at Bookwi.se
Sidney Chambers is a young parish priest in Grantchester, a small town on the edge of Cambridge. It is 1953 and the world is returning back to normal after WWII. Sidney is trying to find his way in the world and eventually finds that he is good at finding trouble. His friend Inspector Keating soon realizes that Sidney is good at getting information from people that would not talk to the police and can connect disparate pieces of the puzzle together to find the criminals.
Overall this is a good book. It is more of a story of a pastor that is working through his calling and who happens to keep coming across murder and crime than a true cozy mystery book. There are hints of a young Father Brown, but the focus is not on Sidney’s wisdom but his perceived inadequacy. He seems to be good at solving mysteries, but he wants to be good at (and satisfied with) leading a church parish.
My main complaint is that it feels more like a collection of short stories rather than a cohesive whole. And there is the problem that I have watched the first season already, so actual stories are roughly the same as in the first book. I alternated between the audiobook and the kindle book and enjoyed both. It is not an earth shattering series and not as well developed as Inspector Gamache or Bruno Chief of Police. But I like the character of Sidney Chambers so I will pick up the next (there are currently four books in the series, with a fifth expected in June.) And I do like that the series takes Christianity and Sidney’s calling seriously.
As I was looking around after I finished the book, I saw that the author is the son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury (Robert Munchie, who held the post from 1980 to 1991). Archbishop Runchie (like Sidney Chambers) was former officer in WWII and a parish priest outside of Cambridge.
The narrative follows the life of a British World War 2 veteran who was called to the Church and the social and spiritual paths open to him as he makes choices and deals with challenges of living a moral life in the 1950s as Canon of a church in Cambridge, England . Starting as a young single priest the book addresses his hopes and dreams as he looks for love and purpose .
Great listen. i really mean it was a great listen. The narrator Peter Wickham has the perfect voice. The story was very compelling. It leaves you wanting more.
The every dayness and the relationship that Cannon Sidney Chambers has with his friend Detective Geordie Keating and Amanda. The stories have different set of dynamics than what we saw on PBS. It is almost the same six short stories as the series with Cannon Chambers as our moral compass, but they have reworked the characters and pretext behind the mystery plot. They also have dropped some characters in the PBS series. You will also notice the war and Sidney are not dominant in the book, something they added on the PBS series. The book takes you through a complete year, whereas the PBS series its just a season.
Actually I found myself really liking Amanda, she is less vague or snobbish than the PBS version. She is more rounded and involved with Sidney in the book and the reader gets a feel for the basis of the relationship and how he feels about her. I wish the books gave Leonard a bigger presence, because I really like him in the PBS series and Mrs M.
His voice is perfect and enjoyable to listen to, he also does the character voices well.
All in all its a enjoyable read, I couldn't get enough, I really looking forward to the other two books.
The narrator is not especially good at varying voices for characters, sounds too old for the main character, and is not very good with women's voices. I found the stories interesting enough to overcome the lackluster narration...and I may very well download the second book at some point. It was the kind of benign distraction I sometimes need.
If you've seen the series on PBS make sure you take a look at the books.
Sadly the productions eliminated all of the faith filled bits and there are some exceptional insights into human character and it's good rinse the spiritual side of Canon Chambers.
Delightful stories and a real pleasure to spend some time in Grantchester
Sidney Chambers in Grantchester is so masculine. So world weary. So strong. So very heartbreaking.
This Sidney Chambers is Very Moral. A little sanctimonious . Very Disappointing.
When you hear "cozy 1950s detective stories with a country vicar as the sleuth", that's exactly what you get in Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is. It's so very Very Prissy.
And the narrator . . . yikes. Most of the characters in the story are in their 20s. This narrator has the voice of an Old Cozy Country Vicar. And just as much acting ability. Sidney Chambers sounds like Miss Marple from St. Mary Meade.
This is not Grantchester. Buy this if you're curious to see how a brilliant writer (Daisy Coulam) turned these typical stories into something really special. If you want more James Norton as Sidney Chambers, I am so very sorry to tell you, he is not here. Buy the DVDs.
"old times at uniy"
yes it was lovely to sit back and injoy. being read to
goodbye mr chips
the scean were the students were climeing about the spirer of the roof.
love and mystery
all I can say is I loved it Im sorry Im such bad speller.
"An easy, enjoyable listen"
I downloaded this after hearing James Runcie on Radio 4's 'Saturday Live'. The description of this book conjured up a cross between GK Chesterton's Father Brown and Miss Marple- a perfect easy crime listen. OK, so it's not quite Agatha Christie but hugely enjoyable if you are in the mood for a 'nice' crime story with no violence but excellent characterisation and simple plots that will still keep you guessing. I like the fact that this book is made up of seperate interlinked short stories as this makes it very easy to dip into. My only complaint is that I wish the 1950s period had been better evoked.
"A lovely gentle series"
I have listened to all 3 in this series one after the other - and they are delightful. I dislike TV and so refused to listen to my sister urging me on to watch televised Grantchester. I have known no one who has read the books. But these listens are lovely. Goodness Sidney is hopeless (I tend to think he was a touch more glamorous on TV) but he is a lovely character tho quite why his police chum feels he is essential to so many investigations is beyond me! These tales seems earlier than the 50's and 60's and often sound a little like Nigel Strangeways but this is a lovely series whilst walking the dog or driving home from a tough day at the office.
"Sidney Chambers: Shadow of death"
The stories are very evocative of the fifties and a joy to read and listen to.
However I found the performance somewhat inconsistent - voices not true throughout and not always suited to the characters.
Also believe that the voice for Sidney should be more mellowed than this narrator's interpretation, to be more in keeping with the author's character as portrayed in print. The performance was too pompous for a character who shies away from pomp and circumstance or only participates when it cannot be avoided.
Pauses from scene to scene were also too short.
Despite all the above I shall buy the series because the writing is so enjoyable.
Yes, this is so easy to read, and such a different theme to most mysteries. Very cleverly written.
The way the main character deals with the not so nice problems he is confronted with, a kind of intelligent gentleness.
Not yet, but definitely will.
All of it in different ways.
this book is made up of six stories the first and last murders and the ones in between crimes of different types.
well written by james Runcie and performed by peter wickham I really enjoyed the book and I am looking forward to the next book Sidney chambers and the peril of the night.
"Gentle & Astute"
In my Top Five
Geordie the Policeman because he appears to be Sydney's straightman and yet is often flexible.
Measured without boring my ears. Conveys the mixed emotions & thinking of Sidney. The vocal pitch for the ladies got on my nerves at times particularly during long speeches or maybe he successfully conveyed just how irritating they are.
Generally I enjoyed the pace and the gentle astute thinking behind the plot & characters.
I tend to stick to authors and narrators I know and like, so this was a bit of an experiment. But I loved it. I was a bit put off initially that it wasn't once continuous 'whodunnit' rather several with the same characters. Once I'd got passed that I enjoyed the stories very much. James Runcie has created a very believable vicar in Sidney Chambers and I look forward to more of his adventures.
"Next book please Mr Runcie"
I thoroughly enjoed this and I'm already looking forward to some more from the same author.
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