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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 sinister; and discovers the reasons behind the theft of a baby from a hospital just before Christmas 1963In 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


10 thoughts on “Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil The Grantchester Mysteries #3

  1. says:

    After his lackluster sopho effort Sidney Chambers and The Perils of the Night author James Runcie than redeems himself with the third book in the series Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil comprises four novellas In the first “The Problem of Evil” someone is ritually murdering vicars in the Grantchester area and Inspector Geordie Keating turns to his friend Canon Sidney Chambers for help The mystery is riveting but as with all Grantchester novels Sidney spends as much time pondering philosophical and theological tenets — including of course the theological obstacle that the problem of evil throws up — as he does contemplating the hows and whys of the murder Yet the novella never bogs down in this surprising page turnerIn “Female Nude” Sidney helps to recover a painting stolen during the distraction provided by a disrobing French blonde in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge Both the painting — The Trapeze by post Impressionist Walter Sickert — and the museum really exist Aided by his childhood friend the flighty art historian Amanda Kendall Sidney comes up with a plan to prove the case against the thief In “Death by Water” the titular death — the drowning of a supporting actor during a film shoot — first presumed to be an accident turns out to be murder Sidney pressed into a bit part in the movie a film version of Dorothy L Sayers’ The Nine Tailors nice homage is on hand for the drowning With his inside knowledge of the film and its actors and crew Sidney is able to determine both perpetrator and motive Lastly in “Christmas 1963” Sidney helps to recover a newborn stolen out of the hospital To tell any would be to ruin this fine story Let’s just say it’s a merry Christmas for all — including Sidney and his new wife the independent but patient Hildegarde Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil won’t appeal to mystery fans who want a thrill ride of a novel; however for those who like their cozies served up with some thoughts about philosophy morality and human nature — yes I’m talking about you fans of Dorothy L Sayers Laurie R King and Agatha Christie — then James Runcie has brewed just your cup of tea with Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil


  2. says:

    I was inspired to read this by the new PBS series Grantchester The first two books in the series weren't immediately available at the library so I started with the third set in the early 1960's about 10 years after the TV series I was surprised to find that it is not a novel but is a collection of four stories each about 80 pages long and each involving the solution of a crime of some sort not always murder Apparently all the books are like this I was also surprised to find a pervasive air of gentle kindly benevolence throughout reminding many reviewers of the Mma Ramotswe books by Alexander McCall Smith It seems entirely appropriate since the author is the son of the late Archbishop of Canterbury; but there is only the barest hint of that spirit in the TV show In this one Sidney Chambers has risen to the position of canon in the Church of England and he happens to attend both the dedication of the new cathedral at Coventry and the funeral of CS Lewis in Oxford In the most entertaining story he is also dragooned into playing the role of Rev Theodore Venables in a new movie version of Dorothy L Sayers's Nine Tailors He is resented by the other actors for being an amateur hired only because he is a friend of the director and taking the role away from a deserving professional But of course murder ensues so Sidney turns out to be essential after all The characters are well drawn the writing graceful the humor never mean spirited But the theological considerations of the title problem are pretty light weight and the mysteries as mysteries are only so so Still a very pleasant read


  3. says:

    The fact is that I am not as well read and well aware of the books out there as I would like to be And blogging about books have given me an opportunity to discover than I normally would have My recent discovery of The Grantchester Mysteries is all thanks to Bloomsbury India who sent over a review copy of the third book in the seriesSidney Chambers is not a professional detective In fact he is a vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral However with his uniue position in the town and access to so many families he manages to solve crimes with a bit of help from the town inspector Geordie Keating This particular installment offers its readers with four standalone short stories First is ‘The Problem of Evil’ where Sidney looks into a serial killer with a grudge against clergymen The second story titled ‘Female Nude’ deals with the disappearance of a painting while a nude woman made for a perfect distraction The third in line was ‘Death by Water’ a case where an actor accidentally drowned but it turned out to be a murder case Finally ‘Christmas 1963’ tells us how Sidney manages to solve the case of a parishioner’s missing babyThe thing that I realized right off the bat is that Sidney Chambers is not our regular fictional detective He is a clergyman whose insight to people and their lives is one of the strongest points he has He is not a conventional protagonist and as such the stories also vary in terms of the cases he solves From playing the role of clergyman in a movie to his love for jazz music small and insignificant details make up the character of Sidney Chambers It is indeed a refreshing change to read about Sidney Chambers and his adventures Also since it is set in a uaint little town in early to mid twentieth century there are no complex forensic details While it may sound a little bland after all we are so used to reading about the complexities of forensics in any sort of case these days it is another aspect of the series that I seriously liked Coming to the plot they were pretty simple and straightforward and any mystery aficionado would be able to guess the who and what factors However the stories have been presented in a manner that there is much of other things that a reader gets out of the book For instance the culture at that time the mentality of common people etc The author has kept his language and narration style simple in order to compliment his plot and charactersOverall I loved the book for its simplicity I will be sure to hunt out the previous books in the series and also look up the TV series based on these books


  4. says:

    This installment is perhaps the most emotional of the series so far I enjoyed seeing of Sidney and Hildegard together I loved the passage where Sidney is detailing how long it takes Hildegard to get ready to leave the house


  5. says:

    Honestly I like the Masterpiece series Grantchester which is based on these books better than the actual books But these are still enjoyable pleasure reading for a mystery buff Like the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency these include a fair amount of philosophical musing about people's motivations but in this series the philosophizing has a markedly religious bent This only makes sense since the main character is a canon in the Church of England but it's something to be aware of if you don't want a dose of God in your mystery novels


  6. says:

    I took my time sinking back into Sidney’s Grantchester and loved every moment There was an excellent plot arc in each story alongside an excellent structure to the overall volume Exploring Sidney and Hildegard’s first years as a married couple the struggles they faced with cost of living rising and the loss of a very dear friend


  7. says:

    Theoretically I should love everything about this series I love the ITV show which in my opinion deserves the same acclaim as Sherlock; I adore Cambridge and Grantchester; I admire Runcie's work on the JK Rowling documentary and am fascinated by his father's Archbishop of Canterbury background Not to mention the stunning book jacketsBut it's time to admit that I simply don't like these books that much Not only do they lack the themes of race and sexuality that make the TV show so fascinating as a portrayal of 50s England they are also stylistically flat The narration is didactic than expository over explaining aspects of English life or unsubtly incorporating pop culture history lessons Moreover as opposed to the stirring tumultuous relationship between TV Sidney and Amanda The Problem of Evil is dominated by book Sidney's extraordinarily insecure and possessive wife Hildegaard whom one cannot help but wish victim to one of the mysteries


  8. says:

    This is my third Grantchester books and the book seemed dreary and uneventful I felt the book contained too much preaching and not enough action for a mystery I have decided to give James Runcie a rest and not continue the Grantchester mysteries for a while Runcie provokes religious and life searching uestions which would be better served in a different genre In this book Sidney seems caught up in his own problems and feelings such as he a good pastor or a good husband or a good man I felt cheated and wondered where did the real Sidney go Maybe the next book will be better but this reader will read other books before returning to Granchester


  9. says:

    I read this book much too uickly I simply adore the characters and have become uite attached to them to the point of being heartbroken when something difficult happens to one of them I want to be furious with the author for it but I forgive him because of the wonderful things that followed The mysteries in the book are fine nothing earth shattering but certainly not boring But the characters are like old friends and make these books irresistible I'm off to purchase the next book in the series


  10. says:

    uite very interesting and evocative captures the period very well and features interesting discussions on the nature of evil