Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie

Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation by James Runcie --- 315 pages

In this fifth installment in his Grantchester Mysteries Series, Sidney Chambers has been promoted from the vicarage in Grantchester to the position of Archdeacon of Ely, but still in the familiar environs of Cambridgeshire. The book opens with his family and friends gathering to celebrate Sidney's 46th birthday, an occasion somewhat tempered by an attack of toothache and the looming prospect of Lent. Busy with his ecclesiastical duties and his family, Sidney nevertheless still finds time to assist his friend Inspector Geordie Keating with his investigations.

The world is changing rapidly: Sidney has arrived at the "Swinging Sixties," when it seems every long-established rule or tradition is being questioned, and the social order turned upside down. 

In the six stories that make up this book, Sidney must not only solve mysteries but also come to grips with changing notions of what constitutes both crime and sin, conventional beliefs and new modes of spirituality, and the political and social disillusionments of the Cold War, not just among his parishioners but even among his closest friends and family.  There are also intriguing encounters with current events and pop culture, such as the Apollo 11 flight to the moon, the rock group Pink Floyd, and an up and coming young actor named Ian McKellan. 

The Grantchester of the novels has diverged in some significant ways from the Grantchester of the popular PBS television series, and if you are a fan of both it's rather like watching two alternate versions of reality unfolding side by side. There's more action and suspense in the televised Grantchester; but the novels have their own more ruminative charm.

Click HERE for the review from Kirkus.

Click HERE for the review from Publishers Weekly.

Click HERE for the review from the Historical Novel Society.   

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