Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death (2012)

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. James Runcie. 2012. Bloomsbury. 400 pages. (Grantchester Mysteries Series #1)

Canon Sidney Chambers stars in six cozy-mystery novellas set in Britain around 1953-1954. There are six mysteries to be solved; some mysteries include a dead body, others do not: in some it's a case of jewelry theft or kidnapping. Though there are six separate mysteries to be solved, there are a handful of characters whose lives we follow from story to story. Readers get to know the people closest to Chambers, and we also get to see into his personal life. There are two women that intrigue him: the first the widow woman introduced in the first story; the second is a glamorous, sparkly woman introduced in the second story. Amanda, the second woman, gives Sidney a Labrador--a dog he names Dickens.

For readers who enjoy cozy mysteries, cozy historical novels with plenty of detail and well-drawn characters, Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death is well worth considering. I didn't love all six stories. But I can easily say that I LOVED about three or four of them. The stories are all different from one another. It was easy to love Sidney Chambers.

My favorite stories were "The Shadow of Death," "A Question of Trust," and "A Matter of Time."

"The Shadow of Death"
Canon Sidney Chambers had never intended to become a detective. Indeed, it came about quite by chance, after a funeral, when a handsome woman of indeterminate age voiced her suspicion that the recent death of a Cambridge solicitor was not suicide, as had been widely reported, but murder. (1)
"A Question of Trust"
It was the afternoon of Thursday 31 December 1953, and a light snow that refused to settle drifted across the towns and fields of Hertfordshire. Sidney was tired, but contented, after the exertions of Christmas and was on the train to London. He had seen the festival season through with a careful balance of geniality and theology and he was looking forward to a few days off with his family and friends. (82)
"First, Do No Harm"
One of the clerical undertakings that Sidney least enjoyed was the abstinence of Lent. The rejection of alcohol between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday had always been a tradition among the clergy of Cambridge but Sidney noticed that it neither improved their spirituality nor their patience. In fact, it made some of them positively murderous. (148)
"A Matter of Time"
It was the seventh of May 1954 and Sidney had, at last, perfected the art of boiling an egg. (218)

"The Lost Holbein"
Locket Hall, with its grand E-shaped exterior of Ham Hill stone and mullioned windows, had been built at the beginning of the sixteenth century and was one of the finest stately homes in the vicinity of Cambridge. (282)
"Honorable Men"
Sidney was talking to himself again. 'Vanity, vanity, all is vanity, saith the Preacher,' he muttered as he walked towards the Arts Theatre for the first rehearsal of a modern-dress production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. (331)
The second novel in the series, Sidney Chambers and The Perils of The Night, will be released in May 2013.

Read Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death
  • If you love mysteries
  • If you love cozy mysteries
  • If you love historical fiction set in Britain (1950s)
  • If you enjoy character-driven novels
  • If you like novellas
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

4 comments:

Amy Yingling 12:23 PM  

Becky I will have to check those out for the cozy mystery challenge I am participating in, thanks for a great suggestion!
Amy Yingling
The Crafty Book Nerd

Chris Howard 2:38 AM  

Oooh, this sounds pretty good and I LOVE that cover :D Has a very old book feel to it :)

samantha.1020 8:31 AM  

This sounds like a really interesting read. Thanks for sharing as I might have to pick this one up at some point :)

Elizabeth Tierney 4:56 PM  

I read this book last year and I agree with all your comments. Don't you think it's interesting that within one year three authors (GM Maillet, CC Benison, and James Runcie) would publish books with priests as their main characters??

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP