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Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death: Grantchester Mysteries 1 (The Grantchester Mysteries) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 401 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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- Book 1 of 6 in The Grantchester Mysteries
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About the Author
"No detective since Father Brown has been more engaging than Canon Sidney Chambers. Perfect company in bed." ―Salley Vickers
"Inspector Morse would appear to have a rival." ―Scotland on Sunday
"A charmingly effective tale of detection . . . evoking oodles of churchy village atmosphere, circa 1953, provides a satisfyingly old-fashioned read." ―The Times
"The clerical milieu is well rendered as an affectionate eye is cast over post-war England--a perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon, a hammock and a glass of Pimm's." ―Laura Wilson, Guardian
"James Runcie has written 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." ―New York Times Book Review
"An undiluted pleasure." ―Scotsman
"Full of witty phrases to delight the reader . . . This entertaining first volume about Canon Chambers will have Runcie's readers longing for the next." ―Peggy Woodford, Church Times
"An evocation of a more genteel era . . . Chambers turns out to be a winning clergyman-sleuth, and Runcie's literary authority is repeatedly demonstrated in the construction of his elegant tales. In fact, it is the plotting that really distinguishes this collection, and will make many more readers more than ready to follow the God-fearing hero from the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 to the wedding of Charles and Diana in 1981 . . . there is no denying the winning charm of these artfully fashioned mysteries." ―Independent
"Gentle criminal entertainment with a pleasantly old-fashioned feel to it." ―Andrew Taylor, Spectator
"The plots are intriguing . . . While the diminutive priest detective created by G. K. Chesterton led the way, Sidney Chambers is set fair to be a worthy successor. In a sceptical age this is quite an achievement. Then again, the author is a son of an archbishop. And who better to portray the sleuth in ecclesiastical clothing?" ―Barry Turner, Daily Mail
"At last, an Anglican Father Brown . . . Each tale is beautifully crafted and surprising. I hope for many more volumes." ―A.N. Wilson, Spectator
- Publication Date : April 24, 2012
- File Size : 1084 KB
- Print Length : 401 pages
- ASIN : B007DD9R92
- Lending : Enabled
- Publisher : Bloomsbury USA; 1st Edition (April 24, 2012)
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Language: : English
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #145,873 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Without giving any specifics, there is a quite different emphasis on Sidney's various romantic interests, at least through this first book and the first part of the third series on TV; the same people but different focus. Though you will certainly find Amanda and "the German widow", Hildegard. For example, in this first book, at least, Sidney is much less challenged by his robust romantic inclinations for attractive women, although that is certainly touched on. Leonard, the curate, so far shows no particular sexual orientation,as he does on TV. Perhaps some of these things will show up in the later books.
Sidney still loves jazz, thank goodness, perhaps even more than on Grantchester. (It can be murder.)
I bought the book on Kindle and Audible, and mostly listened to it. The audio reader, Peter Wickham is quite good actually, and his British accent is not at all hard for American ears, but his tone is so relaxed in the way he presents these stories that I find him somewhat lulling on this material.
By the way, the book is really a series of several long short stories, each three or four chapters, with its own mystery, not always a murder. But the stories are designed so they all flow smoothly together, so this is arguably as much a novel as short stories. Each story is very well done and has a lot of material about the time period (1950s in the first book; the decades change in later books) and Sidney's inner thoughts and turmoils. These often have nothing to do with the mystery. That's true in the TV series also, but not to the same extent.
So my suggestion would be to read this book on its own! It is a good book that sees an willing clergyman solve crime for good and for friendship. It focuses on human emotions and beliefs of all its characters which are never truly black or white and that at times can get waylaid for romance and overdramatization to boost tv viewership.
This is not a murder mystery whodunnit novel. If you are expecting Agatha Christie or Doyle, you will be find this too bland. Without any spoiler alert, not every story has a murder. This is a series of short stories where every crime is solved with a lesson learned in humanity.
I know I'm getting the second book.
Top reviews from other countries
This book was a nice, easy read - it is absolutely perfect for the casual or time-poor crime fan. The stories and characters and engaging and likeable which goes a long way to making this book a low-stress read.
I like the fact that the book is broken up into 6 different parts, but has a sort of 'main story' as I mentioned above. A lot of writers would have been tempted to drag each of the 6 stories in this book out into a whole book so in order to try and find a balance between the crime themes and Sidney's personal and professional life, but Runcie has done the opposite - finding a good balance by saying less. There is a lot to be said for short-and-sweet.
I enjoy the characters, mainly because I know them from the television programme, however I am particularly enjoy the character of Sidney and his relationship to the Church and Christianity in general. I personally really enjoy reading about peoples interaction with and interpretation of their personal faith, and this book has plenty of it - although I am cautious to add, not so much of it that it detracts from the other themes of the book!
Finally, I enjoy the setting - mainly because Grantchester is only a few miles away and I know most of the place names! It makes things slightly entertaining for me...
What I disliked…
There are a handful of times where I found Runcie's method of description a little peculiar, but not so much that I can remember exactly what bothered me, and certainly not enough to stop reading.
Also it bothers me the way the characters talk during a discussion about homosexuality, but frankly that's my bad for reading a book set in the 50's. Having said that, Sidney is very progressive in this regard which makes these passages easier to digest.
This book was an easy and enjoyable read. Each story was entertaining, and due to the format of short stories, the romantic subplots I usually can't stand were engaging, but not drawn out.
The characters are lovable, although not hugely developed in many cases (again, due to the short-story format) but with 4 further books in the series, there is plenty of room for expansion. That said, the crime plots are the real selling points of this book. They are well thought out and a joy to read.
I strongly recommend this to anybody who enjoys a simple crime read - particularly those who are casual readers, are strapped for time, or struggle with longer stories.
This makes it an ideal holiday read.
This is not a book which will please readers who prefer their crime with all its gory details but those who prefer to read novels which remind them of Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer will love this book. I found the characters believable and interesting and the nineteen fifties background is well done. People are polite to each other and things which are talked about freely today are glossed over and not discussed. This is how it was then.
Sidney finds people will talk to him much more freely than they will to the police and he can ask questions and obtain answers which the police would fail to do. Sidney is a likeable character. He doesn't enjoy Christmas and finds Lent frustrating. He is irritated when his friend Amanda wishes a Labrador puppy on to him because she thinks he is lonely but soon finds Dickens indispensible to his happiness. He is gradually realising that like his friend Geordie he is never off duty.
As must always be the case with short stories, the plots are slight but they are well constructed and I enjoyed trying to work out who was responsible for the crimes. If you enjoy Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer's crime novels and modern authors such a R T Raichev then you will enjoy Sidney Chambers. I shall be watching out for future books in this series.
I'm a bit too young to remember the early 1950's, but life appeared to be much simpler then. Amongst Mrs Maguire's toad-in-the-hole and shepherds pie, games of backgammon and warm beer in the pub on Thursday evenings, a beautiful black Lab puppy called Dickens....we have Sidney the Canon, who butters his early morning toast before cutting them into soldiers......
These stories are very well written and for me personally, the TV series has really brought the characters to life. There aren't any breaks in the stories, and I think including a few chapters in each would have helped. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed them all, and will be adding a few more to my Kindle.