Last year, around the time when Downton Abbey’s fifth season came out, my wife and I watched the short six episode season of Grantchester (also on Masterpiece). I have been looking forward to the show’s eventual second season when I saw that the book was on sale.
(Still $3.85 for Kindle Edition, and $3.99 for the audiobook with the purchase of the Kindle Edition.)
Sidney Chambers is a young parish priest in Grantchester, a small town on the edge of Cambridge. It is 1953 and the world is returning back to normal after WWII. Sidney is trying to find his way in the world and eventually finds that he is good at finding trouble. His friend Inspector Keating soon realizes that Sidney is good at getting information from people that would not talk to the police and can connect disparate pieces of the puzzle together to find the criminals.
Overall this is a good book. It is more of a story of a pastor that is working through his calling and who happens to keep coming across murder and crime than a true cozy mystery book. There are hints of a young Father Brown, but the focus is not on Sidney’s wisdom but his perceived inadequacy. He seems to be good at solving mysteries, but he wants to be good at (and satisfied with) leading a church parish.
My main complaint is that it feels more like a collection of short stories rather than a cohesive whole. And there is the problem that I have watched the first season already, so actual stories are roughly the same as in the first book. I alternated between the audiobook and the kindle book and enjoyed both. It is not an earth shattering series and not as well developed as Inspector Gamache or Bruno Chief of Police. But I like the character of Sidney Chambers so I will pick up the next (there are currently four books in the series, with a fifth expected in June.) And I do like that the series takes Christianity and Sidney’s calling seriously.
As I was looking around after I finished the book, I saw that the author is the son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury (Robert Munchie, who held the post from 1980 to 1991). Archbishop Runchie (like Sidney Chambers) was former officer in WWII and a parish priest outside of Cambridge.