I kept seeing advertisements for a series on the BBC called Grantchester which is all about a vicar who is a part-time detective. After watching the first season, I knew that I needed to read the books that inspired the show. I waited until I made my way through all the ones that are currently out so I could do a masterpost with my review of the series as a whole. Let's do this!
Word on the street (Wikipedia) is that the author, James Runcie, only has one more book planned for this series so this is a great time to get caught up before its release. Each book includes several mysteries other than the one which gives the book its title. It follows Sidney Chambers right after the end of WWII when he has recently become the vicar of Grantchester. Right from the start the reader is made aware that Sidney is not your typical man of the cloth. For one thing, he enjoys whiskey at the pub with his friend Geordie who is a police detective. For another he is massive fan of jazz and sees nothing wrong with going to a boozy club on his day off to enjoy the sultry songs (and the singers). He is also struggling between two opposing sides of his personality because Sidney is a part-time sleuth. The theme running throughout all of the books is this push-and-pull between what Sidney believes is his duty to his flock and his yearning to be where the action is. He justifies his actions as a detective by saying that as a clergyman it is his duty to involved in the lives of his parishioners. It's a shaky argument which pretty much everyone points out to him. Runcie makes some considerable leaps through time between some of the stories so be prepared for that. I found it somewhat jarring because I'm used to mystery series such as Agatha Christie's where the characters can feel like they're living in a bubble. If I had to complain about anything from this series it would probably be that the tone borders on being sanctimonious at times which I felt didn't track with how I viewed the character and so it didn't fit as the tone for the narrative. However, if you want to get outside of your head and sit back with a mystery on a cold night this winter then I recommend you give Runcie's Grantchester Mysteries a shot.
The books in the series:
- Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
- 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