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 we..Show More »re 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.
This is a collection of six short stories, each of which stands on its own, though there are some connections between them, and some characters are pr..Show More »esent in each story. The protagonist is, of course, Sidney Chambers, a Church of England canon in Grantchester, a bucolic village close to Cambridge University. Sidney's sideline is criminal investigation, via his friendship with Cambridgeshire policeman Geordie Keating.
Sidney is a mild-mannered man, but there is some spice to his life. He has two women in his life: Amanda, his longtime close friend, and Hildegarde, the German widow who he met in the first volume in this series, when her husband was murdered. In this volume, the stories range from the murder of a Muslim grocer to a close shave for Sidney when he visits Hildegarde in Germany just as the Iron Curtain is ringing down.
Author James Runcie is the son of Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s, so he comes by his interest in churchmen honestly. In the website about the Sidney Chambers series, he writes that he plans to have six novels in the series, beginning in 1953 and ending in 1978, writing about a period in which there were vast changes in English society.
Runcie's strong suit is his ability to evoke the feel of the village and the university in the 1950s, so soon after the war's end. The book should be a rewarding experience for those who reading for atmosphere and storytelling. The avid mystery reader may be less pleased, because the crimes tend to be solved in a burst of exposition. There isn't the seeding of clues that allows the careful reader to figure out the whodunnit.
Avoid the audiobook! The reader, Peter Wickham, is terrible at women's voices. In particular, he makes Amanda sound like a little old woman, when she's supposed to be a wealthy young society woman.
Our favourite Cambridge Canon is back! Canon Sidney Chambers, that lover of warm beer and hot jazz, returns once more in the third title in the Grantc..Show More »hester Mysteries series. In this series of short mysteries, Sidney tackles the changes to his life following his marriage, as well as being called to help solve several mysteries, including thefts and murders, all while keeping up to his tasks as an Anglican clergyman in the early 1960s.
These wonderful books are a combination of crime fiction and theological musings, which make very thought provoking novels. Fans of era-specific detective fiction will approve and enjoy, as well as those who like to contemplate the meaning of life, good and evil, right and wrong, and the link between religion and morality. James Runcie's work in combining these two genres is remarkable, and very enjoyable.
So, settle in with your favourite tipple and get listening!