Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation – James Runcie

The Yearly review of the latest Granchester Mysteries hereby commences, and once again I am glad to say that I was able to borrow this book rather than spent a lot of money on the hardback. This time Derby libraries came up with the goods, and I did not even have to order it….

Once again, this is the story of a priest in Cambridgeshire who spends a large amount of his waking hours solving mysteries, getting dragged into people’s lives in a way that no priest would in real life….He is now in Ely, which makes for less than likely situations in which he gets drawn into in Cambridge.  The highlight of this book for me is the student party held on the banks of the Cam during Mayweek: but once again there is barely a crime and what nefarious activity there is peters out on the last page of the chapter. Not so much mysteries as mildly interesting events occur in this book. James Runcie may be a prolific writer, but he is no Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle. Either there is a crime which is obviously not going to be solved, or the perpetrator wanders off unpunished. Even in the case of the undeniable murder, the murderer is so obvious that I lost interest.

The worst chapter is set in East Germany. I became so confused about who was supposed to be who, who dies and what anyone does about it. There is jealousy and politics; at least I think there was, but I lost interest.This book is not about the temptations or trials of being a priest in the middle of the twentieth century. It just goes into long bits about Sidney muttering to himself about whether he loves his wife or whether he is still in love with Amanda….If you want something a little nearer, Rebecca Shaw in her romantic sagas involving the perfect Peter the priest are at least more fun.

In other words, I thing that this is definitely a case of where the tv series is better than the novels.Better characters, better settings, and some real mysteries. Borrow this book if you can, but I would suggest there are better books to read out there.

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