I’ve been watching the Grantchester series on Masterpiece lately, so I decided to read the first book the series is based on. Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is really a collection of six short stories. They are light cozies about a mild-mannered Anglican vicar who gets involved in mysteries. In fact, if you’ve been watching the TV series and have been bothered by the darker aspects of Sidney’s character, you will not find any evidence of them in these stories.
Just after World War II, Sidney Chambers is a vicar in the village of Grantchester and also lectures in nearby Cambridge. He is young and well-meaning, his biggest faults being a tendency to get distracted from his duties and a certain lack of organization.
The first story explains how he gets involved in detecting. After presiding at the funeral of one of his parishioners, Stephen Staunton, who apparently committed suicide, Sidney is approached by Pamela Morton.
Morton is certain that Staunton couldn’t have killed himself. However, she doesn’t want to go to the police with her doubts, because she is a married woman who was having an affair with Staunton. She tells Sidney that they were planning to run off together in the new year and asks him to discreetly make inquiries.
Sidney’s friend Inspector Geordie Keating is not happy to find Sidney making discreet inquiries. But Sidney is able to identify Staunton’s killer using clues about his taste in whiskey and a code in his datebook.
Of course, Sideny is surrounded by colorful characters, especially his crotchety housekeeper and his intellectual curate Leonard. If you like cozies, you will probably enjoy this series.