‘Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death’ By James Runcie

ChambersI saw part of an episode of the PBS Mystery (presumably, originally a BBC thing) of this, which is why I decided to download it onto my Nook for my trip to Thailand. My mother loves British mysteries, but I never got beyond Sherlock Holmes and a couple of Agatha Christie stories.

Well, this is not a novel. Really, it’s a chronologically arranged short story collection. I’m guessing each episode of Grantchester Mysteries is a story from this or another Sidney Chambers story (who is an Anglican priest for the Grantchester parish).

The stories are okay. The landscape and time period (early fifties) done in broad strokes, rather than vivid ones. I’m still not sure what, if anything, makes this dude a good detective.

Also, a couple of things ate at me. In one story, I felt a little horrified by the ending. Did we establish that a doctor was probably giving patients extra large doses of morphine to euthanize them unwillingly and did we then decide that we’d probably (by means of surprisingly secular sermon) convinced him not to do that again and then walk away from it?

And did a priest give disturbingly blase answer to how he was able to deal with having shot people in WWII (before he was a priest)? While we can all agree that Nazi Germany absolutely had to be stopped, I expect my men of God to feel, at the very least, a little squeamish about any taking of human life, no matter how morally justified. Maybe that’s just me.

I probably won’t read any more. I suspect it’s a decent or perhaps even better than average genre book. But it’s not in my preferred genres, so I’m unwilling to cut it the slack I might to a science fiction novel.

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