Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death: The Grantchester Mysteries (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Sydney is a Cannon in the Church of England in a small town, Grantchester, near Cambridge.  The first book in the series is Sydney Chambers and the Shadow of Death.  As a clergyman Sydney is expected to spend his time officiating at weddings and funerals, writing sermons, counseling his congregation, and in general leading a rather blameless life.  Unfortunately he keeps getting tangled up in investigating crime.  It is handy that his chess playing buddy is a detective.  The series is set in the years after WWII.  Sydney bore arms in the conflict and has a grasp for what is really important in life.  Harshly judging is clearly not in his character.  He faces controversy with a tolerant, kind view.  Mystery fans will like the intriguing plot lines and interesting characters.  Jan Karon fans will also enjoy the series, as Sydney shares a gentle nature with Karon’s Father Tim.  Part way through the first book in the series Sydney is given a dog by a lady friend.  Sydney is pretty sure he does not want a dog.  The puppy thinks otherwise, and much to the dismay of the housekeeper, has soon installed himself as Sydney’s boon companion, thoroughly convincing the cleric that a dog is a good friend and necessary to a happy life. 

— Deon Stonehouse


The first of the Grantchester Mysteries, and the inspiration for the primetime PBS/Masterpiece television series, Grantchester.

It 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.

With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown, The Grantchester Mysteries introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.

About the Author

James Runcie is an award-winning film-maker and the author of seven novels. Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death, the first in 'The Grantchester Mysteries' series, was published in 2012, soon followed by Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night, and Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil. In October 2014, ITV launched Grantchester, a prime-time, six-part series starring James Norton as Sidney Chambers. James Runcie lives in London and Edinburgh.

Praise For…

Praise for East Fortune:

"This gripping novel has only one major flaw - it was far too short - I wanted at least another 200 pages of these people and their lives" - Victoria Hislop

Praise for Canvey Island:

"A tender, intimate account of post-war England, left me both wistful and elated" - Jim Crace

"Elegiac and evocative ... Canvey Island is moving and clearly heartfelt" - Observer

Product Details
ISBN: 9781608198566
ISBN-10: 1608198561
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012
Pages: 400
Language: English
Series: Grantchester