Friday, 12 July 2013

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night by James Runcie

This is James Runcie’s second instalment of Grantchester Mysteries featuring Canon Sidney Chambers, a priest with a living at Cambridge, where he also teaches a little divinity. Sidney is a pleasant, mild mannered man in his thirties who plays backgammon with his policeman pal, Geordie Keating. He is also rather nosey and perhaps this is why he finds himself embroiled in crime from time to time, and as a priest he can go where the police cannot.

The six crimes that make up this book of stories include a poisoned cricketer, a suspicious fall from a college rooftop, a maths professor murdered in his bath and a close shave Sidney experiences with the Stasi when visiting his friend Hildegarde in Berlin.

The stories are peppered with humour and engaging characters, including Sidney’s socialite friend, Amanda, and Leonard, his Dostoyevsky-reading curate. Ticking away in the background is the idea of marriage – Sidney is hopelessly slow at proposing and years have passed by while he wavers between asking either Hildegarde or Amanda.

There are interesting digressions into a wide range of subjects, such as mathematics and its connection with music, as well as physics and cricket. The delightful setting of Cambridge in the 1950s adds to a very pleasant read. The writing is superb, too. Readers who like Alexander McCall Smith will adore the Grantchester Mysteries and will be pleased to learn that there are several more books planned for the series.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue Link: Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night

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