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James Runcie – Sidney Chambers and the shadow of death

James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the shadow of death

ISBN 978 1 4088 2592 2 (Hardback)

Bloomsbury, 2012, 392pp, £14.99

 The author’s name is familiar in church circles especially, and here is his fifth novel but the first in a series of six proposed ‘Grantchester Mysteries’.  The Vicar of Grantchester reluctantly turns detective as a series of crimes or suspicious circumstances fall across his path in parish life.  He is compelled to draw on his vocational instincts to solve the mysteries that elude his friend, Inspector Geordie Keating’s initial investigations.  It is entertaining to see how they play each other off, and how the Christian approach and insight provides the stronger lead.

Following the famous Father Brown tradition, Runcie places his characters into the world of the 1950’s, of art, of jazz, high society and finally into a Shakespearian production, exposing his vocational training of openness and compassion, avoiding being judgemental.  He ‘would try to be a man on whom nothing is lost’ which becomes the basis for this ongoing story, full of action,  endearing dialogue, the use of some recognisable Anglican phrasing, altogether making a satisfying yarn, very well told.

This is just right for a long summer’s evening as the plots move fast, with colourful yet credible characters, and the suspense compelling enough to make it a really good read!

Damian SSF