Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death – James Runcie

Sidney and Geordie meet regularly on a Thursday night for a couple of pints and a few games of backgammon in The Eagle, the local pub in Grantchester, just outside Cambridge.

They talk about life and what has been occurring in their lives. Their families and potential love interests. 

Just two friends getting together and sharing life, a friendship if you will.

So what makes them so different from any other?

Sidney is a thirty-something jazz loving Canon, Geordie is a police inspector. It is the year of the coronation, 1953 and James Runcie has created a new detective to rival such as Miss Marple, Mma Ramotswe and Father Brown.

Six short stories are contained in this first volume (there is to be six volumes in total) from a woman worried about the death of her married lover, was it suicide? A theft of an expensive engagement ring at a dinner party, that Sidney is attending, the apparent speedy death of a mother who is reluctant to let her daughter marry, a forged painting of a former Queen, and a death on stage in a local am dram performance.

In all of these Sidney needs to draw upon his strength to help and guide as well as be called upon by the police to assist where necessary. Investigations become part of pastoral care in Sidney’s parish. It is his faith in people not just his religious faith that shows Sidney’s keen eye in these investigations.

Runcie has created a wonderful character in Canon Sidney Chambers he has depth and will no doubt be developed more in proceeding novels. Although the stories can be read individually they actually all inter twine with recurring characters such as the potential love interest for Sidney in Amanda and Hildegard. As well as Sidney’s family especially his sister Jennifer. Then there is the delightful Mrs Maguire the housekeeper with a forthright manner and opinion and aversion to dogs.

The setting is picturesque, and it took me back in time to the mid fifties and with enough relevant historical setting to place the novel correctly and I look forward to see how these novels progress. In the meantime I will be rereading this book and enjoying it all the more.

Thank you to netgalley for allowing me the opportunity to access this book and review. 

I read this book on my kindle and will actually now be going out and buying the book. I want to be able to keep this book forever, and look forward to collecting them all. The cover is just so wonderful as is the stories contained inside. I did not realise until I started reading that they were short stories, but it was just what I needed when I was reading the book. I will be recommending this book to many people. 

Once I had read the book, I did a bit of research about the author and discovered much. James Runcie is in fact the son of Robert Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury and is not only an author but also a television documentary maker with documentaries about J.K. Rowling and his own father to name a few. 

The Grantchester Mysteries which I can see becoming under that category of ‘cosy’ crime will be a six volume series starting in 1953 through to 1978. I am looking forward to how Sidney will change in this time, from Coronation to Silver Jubilee, and how life changes and no doubt changes the way crime changes and the criminals are caught. For some reason this felt right for me beginning a series of books which start in the year of the Coronation in the year of the Diamond Jubilee.

The Grantchester Mysteries has its own dedicated website please do go and take a look where you can also see a sample of the book and get taster for it. I am sure you will be wanting to read it all. 

2 thoughts on “Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death – James Runcie

  1. This book is on order at my library and I’m looking forward to getting it , thanks for another ‘author alert’ Jo.

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