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Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

(The Grantchester Mysteries #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  7,818 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews
Alternate cover edition for ASIN: B007M83AFU

Now a major, prime-time six-part series Grantchester for ITV

Sidney Chambers, the Vicar of Grantchester, is a thirty-two year old bachelor. Sidney is an unconventional clergyman and can go where the police cannot.

Together with his roguish friend Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge sol
Kindle Edition, TV Tie-In Edition, 401 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published April 24th 2012)
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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 rea…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)
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 f…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."

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.
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.
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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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 play
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!
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
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
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, new-to-me, 2013
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
Earnest 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
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
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
K.J. Charles
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
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
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Quote that I am still thinking about: "How we love determines how we live." ...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
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
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
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.
Perhaps this novel didn't have as much depth to it as the recently published prequel but it still kept me engrossed. This is definitely a character driven novel and one cannot help but root for the fictional Sidney Chambers during his quest to become a better person and also to solve the occasional mystery. ...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
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
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
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.
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 stories,
3.5 stars

I started watching the show a couple of years ago, but then stopped once characters started having affairs. I was told that this does not happen in the books, so I gave it a go. I enjoyed reading this, but it was something I could put down since it is rather slow moving. It contains six mysteries that happen over a years time. Sidney is a likable character and I liked Amanda much more in the books than the show. Overall, I liked it and may continue with the series...or I may not.

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
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
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
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
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
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 book.
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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.

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)

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