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Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1)

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  2,209 ratings  ·  443 reviews
Sidney Chambers,the Vicar of Grantchester and Honorary Canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two year old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the colour of hazelnuts and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clergyman and can go where the police cannot.

In The Grantchester Mysteries, Sidney, together with his roguish friend Inspector Horatio 'Harry'
ebook, 256 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
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  • Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death by James Runcie
    Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
    Release date: May 09, 2013
    As seen on ITV's Grantchester.

    Enter to win one of 50 copies of Sidney Chambers & the Shadow of Death by James Runcie.

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    Availability: 50 copies available, 279 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Oct 29 - Dec 01, 2015

    Countries available: GB

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    Lucy Takeda I would think at least 16 years old. Maybe 14, for a mature youngster. If they can handle Agatha Christie, they can handle this.
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    Community Reviews

    (showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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    I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed this book more than I enjoyed watching the first season of Grantchester. Don't take me wrong, I enjoyed this book and its six short stories (some better than the others), but still I liked the TV-show better.

    Why? Hmmm let's see Sidney Chambers, Vicar played by James Norton. He looks like a young Robert Redford. He is a great character and I like him in the book, but I truly enjoyed watching him on the telly...

    The we have Inspector Geordie Keating played
    Wow. What am I missing? I love the books that so many people lump with this one, but I found Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death to be unrewarding, stilted, shallow, stiff, and dry. I pre-ordered it in paperback after Karen of cornflowerbooks blog recommended it, and I was confident that I'd love it as I have loved the Flavia de Luce and Mma Ramotswe series--but oh! I was sooooooooooo wrong. Many people admit that the plot isn't compelling but then say what a great character Sidney is, a sta ...more
    Reviewed for Library Journal, starred review:

    There is something very appealing about a man of the cloth playing at detective; the convergence of the sacred with the evils of the modern world can make for delightful mystery reading. Novelist Runcie (The Discovery of Chocolate; Canvey Island), who just happens to be the son of the former archbishop of Canterbury, has bestowed upon us a new and delightful clerical detective. Canon Sidney Chambers is a relatively young vicar with a passion for jazz
    Earnie Painter
    I found this book in a used bookstore when I was looking for something else. Having read all of the Agatha Christie books I can find, I longed for something like it to fill my time with reading that wasn't terribly heavy. Sometimes I like a good thick read, and sometimes I long for a light read to get through the weekend. I slipped into these stories like I'd always known them. A new book (new to me) that feels like an old friend, just like meeting somebody and hitting it off immediately as if y ...more
    Old-style mysteries...

    Set in the small Cambridgeshire town of Grantchester in the 1950s, this book is a throwback to the earlier days of mystery writing, before forensics and police procedure took over the world. Canon Sydney Chambers is a young priest in the Church of England who, in the grand old tradition, gets involved as an amateur detective in helping the police to investigate a series of crimes.

    There are six separate stories in the book, each roughly novella length, with plots ranging fr
    Lauren Stoolfire
    Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, the first book in The Grantchester Mysteries follows Sidney Chambers, an unconventional small-town vicar who enjoys jazz, beer and cricket and often finds himself working with Inspector Keating. He inquires into several crimes, as he can be where the police cannot, including the suicide of a solicitor, jewelry theft, murder, and art forgery. Like clergymen, detectives are never off duty.

    I greatly enjoyed watching Grantchester when it aired on PBS's Master
    Actual rating 3.5 stars.

    Having watched and loved the show Grantchester, I decided I'd give the books the show is based on a go.

    And the book was enjoyable, but nowhere near as enjoyable as the show. The show adds a wonderful depth of character to Sidney that the book just does not employ. Though, I have to admit that I loved the fact that in the book Sidney could be a delightful grump at times.

    The show also benefits from having James Norton and Robson Green as Sidney and his friend Inspector Geor

    Very enjoyable short stories of the cosy crime variety. Canon Sidney Chambers, a jazz loving Anglican vicar in a small village near Cambridge in the 1950s gets involved in solving a number of crimes with his friend police inspector Geordie Keating.

    The BBC series, Granchester based on these stories does a great job of bringing them to life and actor James Norton does a perfect job of bringing Sidney to life.
    May 26, 2015 Carol rated it 5 of 5 stars
    Recommended to Carol by: PBS
    Shelves: mysteries, reviewed
    I like mysteries that are "cozy" insofar as I don't like dwelling on violence. I am interested in characterization, the puzzle, &, if possible, something a little deeper. This book works on all levels.

    I started reading this when I heard Granchester was coming to PBS & the description of the TV show persuaded me to try the books. I like the TV show and I like the books, but the plot of the TV show seems to veer significantly from the books themselves.

    Runcie writes in the form of short s
    I liked the idea of a 1950s sleuthing vicar, I love older detective stories, and having heard James Runcie speak once or twice I had high hopes that the book would be entertaining and witty, like its author. Unfortunately, it wasn't.

    I found the characterization poor - all of the characters, including the hero Sidney Chambers, seemed one-dimensional. I found it difficult to remember, let alone care, who was who. The characters themselves seemed to share my indifference, with little or no emotiona
    So, I may have a crush on the PBS show that this book is based on, Grantchester. Sidney Chambers may have returned from WWII and dedicated his life to the church, but he still likes jazz, can get his head turned by a pretty lady, and throws back some whiskey with his police pal in the local pub (or anywhere, really). I liked reading the book after watching the first two episodes because it certainly gave me a clear image of each character to work with. This book was ideal for making into a serie ...more
    When I picked this book up I didn't realise that it's actually a collection of mini-mysteries rather than a one mystery novel. Some of the cases were more intriguing than others, as I couldn't help but feel that some of the crimes were wrapped up just a little bit too neatly. The eponymous hero is a likeable enough chap, and the period setting (this novel starts after WWII) adds interest, but it was a bit mild-mannered and dull for my tastes. I would have to be in the mood for something a bit bl ...more
    Beth Dickey
    I saw the TV show first (GRANTCHESTER, shown on PBS Masterpiece Mystery) , then read the book. As much as I loved the show ( I particularly loved the music, the acting, and whole style of it), I believe I loved the book even more. The book is different from the show: the storylines are somewhat the same but many details are different. For example, the mystery regarding the lost ring does not involve murder in the book, and Sidney doesn't spend the night in the jazz singer's bed. In fact the book ...more
    Picked this up because I have been enjoying Grantchester on Masterpiece Theater. It's an enjoyable series of mysteries almost like a series of short stories. Enjoyed most of them except for the last which was handled better on the TV show. Sidney is an endearing character and I love the Thursday night barroom discussions between Sidney & Geordie.

    *updated* Just watched the season finale of Grantchester. My bookish friends will know I rarely say this but... TV show ending was better than the b
    Oh yeah, I read this last week and forgot to review it.

    The TV show wins over the book for me. The writing is dry and stilted, and I like Sidney better when I can't hear his inner monologue, I suppose. Still, I didn't dislike this whole book as much as I thought I would when first reading it. Either I got used to the writing style or it got better, who knows.

    What I found intriguing is only the first mystery--the suicide that isn't a suicide--is the same on the TV show (pretty much scene-for-scene
    Originally posted here!

    Contrary to what I first expected, this book does not contain a singular plot. It is actually a collection of six cases, namely: The Shadow of Death; A Question of Trust; First, Do No Harm; A Matter of Time; The Lost Holbein, and; Honourable Men. They are arranged chronologically, and though some characters in the first case show up in the succeeding cases as well, you wouldn’t be handicapped if you decide to skip cases. Whichever suits your fancy, I suppose.

    I liked thi
    Jenn Ravey
    * I received an egalley of this book from the publisher Bloomsbury USA via NetGalley.

    I really love when the cover of a book fits it so perfectly, and I'd have to say that James Runcie's Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death does just that. It's so idyllic and peaceful - blue skies with puffy clouds, green grass, and the beautiful church in the background...but with a dark shadow encroaching.

    Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is a series of five longer stories, about 100 pages each, set in
    A captivating and engaging, richly detailed novel that is a delicately interwoven tale of shrouded secrets and underlying meaning.

    The highly evocative period feel and descriptive dialogue, containing exquisite prose makes this an acutely realistic, compelling read. Beautifully interlaced perspectives make this complex murder mystery so stunningly authentic, enthralling and entirely intriguing to the point of deep fascination. I love the supremely simplistic feel of the mystery surrounding an un
    Diane S ❄
    3.5 I am not a big cozy reader, though there are a few series that I still keep up with, but I can definitely see this series joining them. In this series debut, set in 1953 England, Sidney Chambers is a canon, though he is the first to admit he is not a very good one as he feels he could always to more for his parishioners. The villagers are varied but all interesting, there are a few different mysteries needing solving, so Sidney along with his backgammon inspector playing friend work together ...more
    From BBc Radio 4 Extra:
    The cleric is drawn into a murky world of passion and murder following the suspicious death of a solicitor. Read by Alex Jennings.
    I read this as the November read for the Kindle English Mystery book club. I use the word read lightly. This book is organized into a series of loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. I read the first one and then skipped around and read another. Finally, I skimmed most of it. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t get into the character or the book. To be fair I don’t really read many historical fictions and very few with religious undertones, so it might work for other readers ...more
    Wendy (Bookness Lane)
    This volume is broken down into six short stories, making it very easy to digest. Each one succeeds in telling the life of bachelor Canon Sidney Chambers and his acquaintances and continues where the last one left off. People introduced in prior tales are re-introduced later, so everything is nice and familiar throughout.

    What can we say about our lovely Sidney? He left the busy city life behind and now resides in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester. Our jazz loving vicar prefers whiskey t
    Why do I read books and don't do TV or movies very often? I enjoyed these stories a lot so I though I would check out the PBS series. I started with my favorite story--the third one--with a theme of mercy killing. All the subtleties of morality in the story disappeared in the TV production and in fact, the "guilty" party was not even the same person. I did not watch any more of the episodes!

    Canon Sidney Chambers is a good man. He has been through WWII and seen a lot of suffering and death. He th
    Douglas Lord
    Reminiscent of old Nero Wolfe or Agatha Christie morsels, Runcie’s (Colour of Heaven) satisfying short story whodunits are set in a British village in the early 1950s and star the titular Chambers, a WWII vet and local canon (like a vicar, only more ass-kicking). Chambers, like me, is a tall, dark, handsome sidneybike rider. We’re both keen observers, good listeners. Our housekeepers leave eerily similar notes (“More Vim please. And Harpic. Fish tomorrow. Not Friday”). We enjoy similar snacks‚ S ...more
    The "show, don't tell" set will have a field day with this one, as there is a lot of telling--but I enjoyed it. There is a sedate-sounding narrator, a likable cast of characters, and a Labrador named Dickens. It is all very proper and British (set in the 1950s), although Canon Sidney has quite a liberal cast of mind.

    The setting is Grantchester, in whose Orchard Tea Rooms I have sat a time or two. (Close to Cambridge, but still bucolic.) The big name is Rupert Brooke, although he is not mentioned
    Having enjoyed the TV show, I decided to see what the Grantchester books were like. I wasn't expecting a collection of novellas, but they work pretty well, and there are six different mysteries in this one book, all of which run the right sort of length without feeling stretched. Sidney is definitely reminiscent of a CofE Father Brown.
    I enjoyed this and zipped right through it. However, for once I thought the tv series was better than the book. The show had more of Sidney's confusion/ambivalence about his life and seemed somehow deeper. Still, for a fun and light entertainment, this was fine.
    This is a collection of stories that involve Sidney Chambers, vicar in Grantchester. I watched the miniseries on PBS, and it was like reading each of the episodes. I do have to say that Amanda is less annoying in the books than she is on screen. It's a quick, fast, and fun read. And I kept picturing James Norton as Sidney. RROW!
    Enjoyed this series of short stories about a vicar who gets caught up in some detecting, almost as part of his role as vicar. I saw the first story on TV when it was on and sadly missed the rest of the series.
    May 07, 2015 Desiree rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
    Recommends it for: Rhonda Gurley
    Shelves: 2015
    Charming. Good summer mystery read, Sidney makes an interesting detective. I read after watching Grantchester; they sit together well, plus there are two more stories in the book. I think Keating is better developed in the tv series, but that doesn't take away from this, I'll read others in the series.
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    James Runcie is a British novelist, documentary film-maker, television producer, theatre director, and Artistic Director of the Bath Literature Festival.
    More about James Runcie...

    Other Books in the Series

    The Grantchester Mysteries (5 books)
    • Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night
    • Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
    • Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins
    • Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation

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