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Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

‘Sidney Chambers And The Shadow Of Death’
by James Runcie




“Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective. Indeed, it came about quite by chance, after a funeral, when a handsome woman of indeterminate age voiced her suspicion that the recent death of a Cambridge solicitor was not suicide, as had been widely reported, but murder.

It was a weekday morning in October 1953 and the pale rays of a low autumn sun were falling over the village of Grantchester. The mourners, who had attended the funeral of Stephen Staunton, shielded their eyes against the light as they made their way to the wake in The Red Lion. They were friends, colleagues and relatives from his childhood home in Northern Ireland, walking in silence. The first autumn leaves flickered as they fell from the Elms. The day was too beautiful for a funeral.

Sidney had changed into his suit and dog collar and was about to join his congregation when he noticed and elegant lady waiting in the shadows of the church porch. Her high heels made her unusually tall and she wore a calf-length black dress, a fox fur stole and a toque with a spotted veil. Sidney had noticed her during the service for the simple reason that she had been the most stylish person present….”


Cover Image Of The Book 'Sidney Chambers And The Shadow Of Death' By Author James RuncieIt 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.


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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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    • Thank you so much for choosing to visit Fiction Books for the first time this week. I love ‘meeting’ new people and will always value your comments and thoughts.

      Despite not seeming at first glance, to share an interest or love of too many of the same genres, I always enjoy checking out new blogs, as you never know when that next great read might be just around the corner!

      Have a good weekend and Happy Reading 🙂

    • Both the book and television series are new to me, in fact I know nothing of ‘Masterpiece Theatre’ at all.

      I do quite enjoy period detective series and as the series begins in 1953 and I was born in 1958, this one is quite relevant and interesting for me.

      Thank so much for stopping by and enjoy your weekend 🙂

  • This is an interesting beginning and one that definitely draws me in. I’m not familiar with the television program (I haven’t seen anything on masterpiece theatre in years), but if it keeps in line with the novels, I would imagine it would be a good show.

    • This is definitely going to be an intriguing series for me, as it sounds very Agatha Christie(ish) in its delivery style and dialogue and is written from a very personal perspective by the author, who has based the character of Sidney Chambers on his father, Robert Runcie, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, although he has tried very hard not to make the series a fictionalised biography of his father’s life.

      In the excellent article I have linked to, James manages to explain himself so much more succinctly than I ever could!


      When Naida commented below, I could really think of ‘Brother Cadfael’, as being the only other fictional clerical detective I could think of, but of course, James cites an Anglican version of ‘Father Brown’ as his choice.


      I can only say that I am looking forward to hopefully partaking of the entire ‘Grantchester Mysteries’ series and not just to reading a single book, which is my usual way of doing things 🙂

      • Well you’ve convinced me to put this one on my wish list at Amazon. And since the kindle prices are better, I’ll probably go that route, though I do quite like the covers on the paperbacks (not this one, but the ones not associated with the TV program).

        His father was Archbishop when I joined the Episcopal Church, so his name is quite familiar and I prayed for him often! 🙂

        I loved Brother Cadfael and grieved when Edith Pargeter (aka Ellis Peters) died, knowing I’d get no more of the mysteries! I also watched the PBS adaptations starring Derek Jacobi as Cadfael and wished they’d done more of them.

        • I found the suite of cover art you mentioned and have to agree that I too, much prefer it. Much more in keeping wth the sense of time and place the storyline evokes.

          This will be another series that you will still probably get to start and finish before me, so I hope that you enjoy it 🙂

    • I can see that you gave the book a good 4 star rating, so I wonder if there is just that ‘something’ which is holding you back from continuing with the series, or perhaps it is just a case of the “too many books ….” syndrome, which I can totally relate to!

      Have a good weekend and Happy Reading 🙂

    • Now you will have the dilemma of whether to watch the show, or read the book first – and will one spoil the other if a little ‘poetic licence’ is used in the show?

      Enjoy, whichever way round you finally decide to go and thanks for stopping by 🙂

    • I think this series is almost going to be Agatha Christie in its style of writing and the use of language, with her character of Miss Marple springing to mind immediately.

      The only other clergyman fictional detective I can recall right now is Brother Cadfael, which was made into a television series and which you may have seen on Netflix…


      I am really keen to get started on this book, as the entire premise is intriguing.

      Happy Reading and enjoy the coming week 🙂

Written by Yvonne