The Granchester Mysteries by James Runice so far consist of three volumes:
- Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (2012)
- Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (2013)
- Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil (2014)
(The series will have six volumes overall and the fourth volume this coming May.)
The series takes place in Grantchester, a village in Cambridgeshire, England, during the 1950’s. Canon Sidney Chambers is the clergyman for the village of Grantchester, but besides his typical clerical duties, he somehow becomes, reluctantly, an amateur detective. With his best friend Inspector Geordie Keating and his trustful Labrador, Dickens, Sidney Chambers helps solve crimes that continuously happen in Grantchester. The police uses Sidney Chamber’s clerical status as a way for them to get information they usually could not obtain themselves. With his amateur detective sleuthing added on, Sidney is never off-duty.
This is different from most mysteries I have read, mostly due to the format of these volumes. While most British mysteries are a continuous narrative, primarily focused on just one crime. With The Grantchester Mysteries, you combination of different mystery puzzles for the price of one. This format goes back to the classic format of publishing mystery stories, such Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown. A lot of people may not be accepting of this new format, but I found it very refreshing.
The Grantchester Mysteries was adapted into television series that showed on ITV in the UK and PBS in the US so the first volume was predictable and well-known to me. But as I started reading the second and third volume, although the short stories were simplistic, I enjoyed the mystery puzzles, allowing me, the reader, to solve the crime myself. With this innovative narrative, it actually kept my attention. Although I do like a in-depth mystery, I also prefer different mysteries combined into one. This way the narrative unnecessarily does not have to drag on.
If you like your mysteries to be continuously consistent and not have different stories combined then this is not the mystery series for you. However, if you like a unique amateur detective with a splash of social history and comedy all tied together, then this mystery is perfect for you. You will not be disappointed.