Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1)” as Want to Read:
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (The Grantchester Mysteries #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

(The Grantchester Mysteries #1)

by
3.66  ·  Rating details ·  6,573 ratings  ·  1,102 reviews
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, in
...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 10th 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Asteropê I don't think so. The copy I have uses Geordie, not Horatio/Harry.
It seems most of the blurbs as mention the other name:
"Together with his roguish…more
I don't think so. The copy I have uses Geordie, not Horatio/Harry.
It seems most of the blurbs as mention the other name:
"Together with his roguish friend Inspector Geordie Keating..." (PB & Kindle)
"Working in association with his friend, Inspector Geordie Keating..." (HB edition)

I also looked on the author's website and in a background for the series there's this mention:
"And there is the harassed local Cambridgeshire policeman, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, named after a good friend who is often too busy to see me."
http://www.jamesruncie.com/grantchest...

I think what happened is:
1. The early blurbs were wrong (it happens sometimes - titles, names and series names change before publication) and the blurb was never corrected to reflect the accurate data.
2. The author did name the Inspector Horatio, but then thought it'd be better to change it to match the TV series. I think this is less likely and would be more confusion as there'd be copies with Horatio Keating and other copies with Geordie Keating. Unless he changed it at the last minute before any printing was made.
Edit:
But no, the book was written in 2012, but the series started 2014 - and while he might have known it would become a TV show (perhaps he shopped it around and got offers that early), I doubt the TV series had any role in things.

It seems though, that Geordie was the intended name. And so, I think it's just a case of an inaccurate blurb that was never corrected.
(less)
Jane I felt that the book was similar enough so that I was visiting familiar friends but with enough differences so that I did not feel as though I was…moreI felt that the book was similar enough so that I was visiting familiar friends but with enough differences so that I did not feel as though I was reading a rerun or transcript of the show. Also, there were mysteries we haven't seen as well as a few we have amongst the six stories between the covers of the first book -- which is the only one I've read so far. Without giving anything away, I can assure you that there is at least one major difference regarding one of the key characters. There is also much more interior dialogue on Sidney's part which is not everyone's cup of tea or glass of whiskey, although it is mine. ;-) Why not just check it out from the library and give it a go? If you don't like it, simply return it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.66  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,573 ratings  ·  1,102 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
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...


Then we have Inspector Geordie Keating playe
...more
Charlotte May
“Even the faithful can be frightened.”

This cosy mystery was a breath of fresh air. 6 short stories centred around Canon Sidney Chambers, a Cambridge vicar. I loved Sidney as a character - he stomps over so many of the stereotypes most people associate with the religious. He doesn’t judge people and a lot of his views are quite liberal for the time in which this is set (1950s) plus he is partial to a whisky now and then. Something this book taught me - the difference between Whisky and Whiskey!
...more
Gabrielle
I am not proud to admit that I got a copy of this book because I’ve been watching binging the ”Grantchester” tv show when I get an evening alone at home… and I am crushing very hard on James Norton… Honestly, cozy little mysteries are not my usual fare (my mother-in-law loves them, and I am always making fun of her about it…), and I do feel kind of weird getting so swoon-y about a man in a dog collar, but I couldn’t resist when I spotted this at the bookstore... Damn your gorgeous cheekbones, Ja ...more
Rebecca
May 11, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Leah
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, crime, new-to-me
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
...more
Earnie Painter
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ammar
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine this ...

Whiskey, jazz, and murder. It does sound interesting. Doesn't it ?

Canon Sidney Chambers a priest turned detective in the Grantchester in Cambridge.

The six stories in this volume range from robbery to killing to forging art work. They all take place between 1953 and 1955. The cozy mysteries are funny and witty with a cast of characters that will stick with you.

Sidney is not the ordinary priest, he is modern, young and in a way knows the mentality of his parish. He enjoys a dri
...more
Bettie☯
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer
Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, historical
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
...more
Amy
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
...more
K.J. Charles
Nov 24, 2017 marked it as pass
Shelves: detective, post-ww2, dnf
I honestly can't see the charm. Harks back to Golden Age detective mysteries, complete with implausible dialogue, unlikely clues, and unconvincing set-up. (First story: a woman seeks out a vicar rather than eg a policeman to say that she's sure her lover's death wasn't suicide and demand he solve the mystery. She is angry when he doesn't immediately find the killer. When he finds the killer she is angry there will be a prosecution because this risks exposing the affair nobody would have known ab ...more
Beth Dickey
Feb 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
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
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
Marjorie
Nov 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Carolyn
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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.
Susanna - Censored by GoodReads
I dithered between 3.5 and 4 stars.

Has excellent sense of time and place (1950s Britain), and I would happily read another.
Ije the Devourer of Books
'It was his first case of adultery, never mind murder.'

What would we do without the clergy?

I really enjoyed book one of this series about an English priest who turns his hand to solving crimes. I will definitely be reading the other books in the series and watching the dramatisation of the books. Good times ahead!

In this first book, the 'Shadow of Death' we meet Canon Sidney Chambers who is quite happy with his life as a priest. He wasn't intending to become a detective but after conducting a fu
...more
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
...more
Nicole
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alison
Oct 07, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
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
Carol
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Carol by: PBS
Shelves: reviewed, mysteries
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
...more
Lia
Oct 10, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Longest sixteen days of my reading life in a long time!

Although I gave this book one star, quite frankly it's getting more that it deserves. I found the characterisation lazy, the dialogue contrived, and at times, flippant, coupled with some bland ugly storylines that were deeply troubling, and offensive. I know creative writing is hard work, but there is no excuse for this kind of drivel masquerading as a short story collection.

At first I had thought this book was a light-hearted collection of
...more
Sophie
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nah.
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
...more
Anmiryam
I became interested in reading this series after I watched a couple of episodes of the television series that is based on them. How could I not relish looking at James Norton as the dishy COE priest Sidney Chambers?*

The interconnected short stories that chronicle Sidney's initial forays into solving mysteries is cut from the same cloth as the series, but is tailored differently. The crimes Sidney is called upon to solve here vary in complexity and serve more as a vehicle for getting to know Sidn
...more
Trin
Mar 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
I'm completely in love with this show right now. The characters are lovely, the relationships complicated, the scenery beautiful...

sidney scythe

Ahem. Anyway, it's a complex, politically aware, smart, savvy show and I adore it.

It's based on this book which is...perfectly pleasant, I suppose (with the exception of the story where (view spoiler)), but frankly, verging on dull -- I think if I did not have the more vibrant TV-versions o
...more
Ruth
Feb 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-cosy
I had already watched and enjoyed the TV series of Grantchester so I was eager to find out how it compared to the books and feel overall that they complement each other well. There are differences between them - Sidney Chambers is a more reflective, less troubled character in the book than in the TV series.

Reading the book I enjoyed the way Sidney reflects on his role as a priest and how becoming involved in investigations may keep him from important work in his parish. The stories aren't rushed
...more
Lori
Feb 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Stephen
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this a collection of different cases where sidney the vicar turns detective in 1950's cambridge, enjoyed the book and felt was back in the 1950's with sidney and dickens and was an easy going detective book in the mold of earlier heros
Jo
Feb 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
~Heads up~
Some swearing
Drinking
Sex, lust, rape, homosexuality
~Personal review~
Is it possible to give negative stars? This was a major disappointment😭
Sidney was a priest in the Church of England and also completely ecumenical. :/
>one of the stories completely centered around homosexuality. It is a sin. That’s all there is to it.
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Runcie manages to convey the character of a deeply devout man with conviction, sensitivity and no whiff of proselytisation, which places these excellent mysteries a notch above Father Brown in my estimation. Blasphemy, I know, but I plead agnosticism as my defense.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The White Ghost (Billy Boyle World War II, #10)
  • The Transcendental Murder (Homer Kelly, #1)
  • Beneath the Abbey Wall
  • A Fete Worse Than Death (Jack Haldean Murder Mystery #1)
  • Dead Men Don't Ski
  • Semper Fidelis (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #5)
  • A Particular Eye for Villainy (Lizzie Martin, #4)
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming (Father Christmas Mystery #1)
  • Death of a Cozy Writer (St. Just Mystery #1)
  • Death Comes to the Village (Kurland St. Mary Mystery, #1)
  • A Shameful Murder (Reverend Mother Mystery #1)
  • The Deception at Lyme: Or, The Peril of Persuasion (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, #6)
  • After the Armistice Ball (Dandy Gilver, #1)
  • A Wicked Way to Burn (Bracebridge Mystery, #1)
  • Bad Faith (Sister Agatha, #1)
  • The Castlemaine Murders (Phryne Fisher, #13)
  • A Useful Woman (Rosalind Thorne Mysteries #1)
  • Oscar Wilde and the Ring of Death
See similar books…
405 followers
James Runcie is a British novelist, documentary film-maker, television producer, theatre director, and Artistic Director of the Bath Literature Festival.

Other books in the series

The Grantchester Mysteries (6 books)
  • Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (The Grantchester Mysteries #2)
  • Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil (The Grantchester Mysteries #3)
  • Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins (The Grantchester Mysteries #4)
  • Sidney Chambers and The Dangers of Temptation (The Grantchester Mysteries #5)
  • Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love (The Grantchester Mysteries #6)
“love can be about more than attraction. I sometimes think it is more a question of sanctuary, a case of unassailable friendship.” 13 likes
“Introspection and self-awareness were the enemies of contentment,” 9 likes
More quotes…