Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil
Charming Canon Sidney Chambers returns in his third outing as the priest who dabbles in detecting. Now a married man, he must juggle a new home life, his clerical duties, and his amateur sleuthing. Runcie’s technique in all the Chambers mysteries so far has been to tell discrete but interconnected stories within each book, so the reader gets four to six mysteries for the price of one. The first installment began in 1953; this latest takes us to 1963.
In this outing, the stakes are higher for Sidney. Both his wife and the church higher-ups would prefer he kept to just one job, and his superiors suggest he could be moved from his cozy Cambridge parish to somewhere less comfortable. Although church mysteries can be viewed as cozies, that kind of control over a career is a reminder that the church can be implacable. Sidney, his wife Hildegard, and other assorted characters are completely compelling. The mysteries, although well-told, take second place to the unfolding of the relationships. Sidney had met Hildegard, a German, in his first adventure when her first husband was murdered. By the end of this book, their family has changed further. Runcie has contracted for a series of six novels, wonderful news for Sidney’s fans.