Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night : Sidney Chambers

  • by James Runcie
  • Narrated by Peter Wickham
  • Series: Sidney Chambers
  • 10 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

1955: Canon Sidney Chambers, loveable priest and part-time detective, is back. Accompanied by his faithful Labrador, Dickens, and the increasingly exasperated Inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney is called to investigate the unexpected fall of a Cambridge don from the roof of King's College Chapel; a case of arson at a glamour photographer's studio and the poisoning of Zafar Ali, Grantchester's finest spin bowler.
Alongside his sleuthing, Sidney has other problems. Can he decide between his dear friend the glamorous socialite Amanda Kendall and Hildegard Staunton, the beguiling German widow? To make up his mind Sidney takes a trip abroad, only to find himself trapped in a web of international espionage just as the Berlin Wall is going up.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good writing, but weak mystery, and awful reader

This is a collection of six short stories, each of which stands on its own, though there are some connections between them, and some characters are present in each story. The protagonist is, of course, Sidney Chambers, a Church of England canon in Grantchester, a bucolic village close to Cambridge University. Sidney's sideline is criminal investigation, via his friendship with Cambridgeshire policeman Geordie Keating.

Sidney is a mild-mannered man, but there is some spice to his life. He has two women in his life: Amanda, his longtime close friend, and Hildegarde, the German widow who he met in the first volume in this series, when her husband was murdered. In this volume, the stories range from the murder of a Muslim grocer to a close shave for Sidney when he visits Hildegarde in Germany just as the Iron Curtain is ringing down.

Author James Runcie is the son of Robert Runcie, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s, so he comes by his interest in churchmen honestly. In the website about the Sidney Chambers series, he writes that he plans to have six novels in the series, beginning in 1953 and ending in 1978, writing about a period in which there were vast changes in English society.

Runcie's strong suit is his ability to evoke the feel of the village and the university in the 1950s, so soon after the war's end. The book should be a rewarding experience for those who reading for atmosphere and storytelling. The avid mystery reader may be less pleased, because the crimes tend to be solved in a burst of exposition. There isn't the seeding of clues that allows the careful reader to figure out the whodunnit.

Avoid the audiobook! The reader, Peter Wickham, is terrible at women's voices. In particular, he makes Amanda sound like a little old woman, when she's supposed to be a wealthy young society woman.
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- Maine Colonial 🌲

Watch the TV series instead

I watched, and loved, the British series Granchester on PBS. I can't wait for more. I had great hopes for the book but they weren't met. BBC has taken a mediocre book and created a wonderful TV show. This book is actually a set of short stories with continuity of the main characters and themes. Sidney Chambers is so different from the James Norton TV character, and I couldn't warm up to him. He is flat and unengaged. In his late 30s, Sidney is naive and a bit of an air head. In the final story of the book, he treats being arrested in East Germany like a couple days at camp.

In the book, Sidney is very involved with a college in Cambridge, which is more of the focus than the village of Granchester. Because the dons are involved, several of the stories relate to college politics and involve chemistry and physics. One story goes so much into detail about how cricket is played that the mystery gets lost in the game. As someone who is not familiar with the game of cricket, I had no idea what was going on for most of the story.

The narrator did a good job except for one of the female voices. Amanda's voice is grating and annoying.
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- Marie

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-01-2013
  • Publisher: Isis Publishing Ltd