The Grantchester Mysteries by James Runcie

The first episode of  'Grantchester' was aired on Australian television last night, which sent me off  to discover more about the television series I’ll be devoting the next five Saturday nights to.

'Grantchester' is based on The Grantchester Mysteries, a relatively new series of novels by James Runcie, involving a village vicar turned sleuth. Canon Sidney Chambers, ex-Scots Guards Officer, is the vicar of Grantchester, an English village near Cambridge, England. He is assisted in his investigations by Detective Inspector Geordie Keating.

Six novels are planned for this series, spanning the years 1953 to 1978. To-date there are three books available and one due for release in May, 2015. I love the retro look of the book covers, a style which seems to be very popular at present for books in the crime fiction genre.

I'm not sure how closely the television series follows the novels, so the following synopses may contain spoilers for those who have yet to watch the series.

Sidney Chambers and The Shadow of Death

It is 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II . Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is a thirty-two-year-old bachelor. Tall, with dark brown hair, eyes the color of hazelnuts, and a reassuringly gentle manner, Sidney is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot.Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney inquires into the suspect suicide of a Cambridge solicitor, a scandalous jewelry theft at a New Year's Eve dinner party, the unexplained death of a jazz promoter's daughter, and a shocking art forgery that puts a close friend in danger. Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty, but he nonetheless manages to find time for a keen interest in cricket, warm beer, and hot jazz--as well as a curious fondness for a German widow three years his junior.With a whiff of Agatha Christie and a touch of G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown, "The Grantchester Mysteries "introduces a wonderful new hero into the world of detective fiction.

Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night

The loveable full time priest and part time detective Canon Sidney Chambers continues his sleuthing adventures in late 1950's Cambridge. Accompanied by his faithful Labrador Dickens, and working in tandem with the increasingly exasperated Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney is called on to investigate the unexpected fall of a Cambridge don from the roof of King's College Chapel; a case of arson at a glamor photographer's studio; and the poisoning of Zafar Ali, Grantchester's finest spin bowler, in the middle of a crucial game of cricket. As he pursues his quietly probing inquiries, Sidney also has to decide on the vexed question of marriage. Can he choose between the rich, glamorous socialite Amanda Kendall and Hildegard Staunton, a beguiling German widow three years his junior? To help him make up his mind Sidney takes a trip abroad, only to find himself trapped in a complex web of international espionage just as the Berlin Wall is going up. Here are six interlocking adventures that combine mystery with morality, and criminality with charm.

Sidney Chambers and The Problem of Evil

Our favorite clerical detective is back with four longer mysteries in which Canon Sidney Chambers attempts to stop a serial killer with a grievance against the clergy; investigates the disappearance of a famous painting after a distracting display of nudity by a French girl in an art gallery; uncovers the fact that an "accidental" drowning on a film shoot may have been something more sinister; and discovers the reasons behind the theft of a baby from a hospital just before Christmas 1963. In the meantime, Sidney wrestles with the problem of evil, attempts to fulfill the demands of his faithful Labrador, Dickens, and contemplates, as always, the nature of love.

Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins 

The loveable full-time priest and part-time detective, Canon Sidney Chambers, continues his sleuthing adventures in 1960's Cambridge. On a snowy Thursday morning in Lent 1964, a stranger seeks sanctuary in Grantchester's church, convinced he has murdered his wife. Sidney and his wife Hildegard go for a shooting weekend in the country and find their hostess has a sinister burn on her neck. Sidney's friend Amanda receives poison pen letters when at last she appears to be approaching matrimony. A firm of removal men 'accidentally' drop a Steinway piano on a musician's head outside a Cambridge college. During a cricket match, a group of schoolboys blow up their school Science Block. On a family holiday in Florence, Sidney is accused of the theft of a priceless painting. Meanwhile, on the home front, Sidney's new curate Malcolm seems set to become rather irritatingly popular with the parish; his baby girl Anna learns to walk and talk; Hildegard longs to get an au pair and Sidney is offered a promotion. Entertaining, suspenseful, thoughtful, moving and deeply humane, these six new stories are bound to delight the clerical detective's many fans.


  1. The Grantchester series has been on American TV for the past month or so, though I've only seen the first episode (and recorded the rest). I enjoyed it. Although I haven't read the books, based on the synopsis of one of the stories in the first one, it stuck pretty closely to it.

    1. I enjoyed the first episode too. Looking forward to the others. I see a second season is planned.

  2. We had the last episode of Grantchester in the US last week. I saw and liked them all. I especially liked the 1953 costumes and sets.

    1. The costumes and sets are great. I can remember my Mum wearing some of those 1950s fashions.