Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (Grantchester #2)
by James Runcie
Bloomsbury USA, 2013. 356 pages. Mystery.
In his second installment of 6 stories following the life and criminal investigations of Canon Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester, Runcie delves more deeply into the political, social, and academic world of Cambridge of the late 1950s. Beyond solving crimes, Sidney also has to investigate his own heart and feelings about two very different women: his good friend, the socialite Amanda Kendall and Hildegard Staunton, an intriguing German widow. Through it all, Canon Chambers' charismatic relationship with his parishioners, his sympathetic manner, and his faith all serve to open doors to him that are not available to the police.
I got on to this series through Masterpiece Theater's Grantchester series that premiered this January. While the BBC made several changes that are not in the books, I assume to add more drama, I have found the books to be very dramatic on their own merits and have a good combination of excitement and introspection. These are very peaceful stories, in spite of the sometimes terrible things that are happening to people. This book was particularly interesting in its description of Cold War Germany, especially in the final story where Sidney travels into Russian-controlled East Germany on a visit to Hildegard. The writing is open and honest, which makes it a joy to read.