Although this latest book by James Runcie is part of "The Grantchester Mysteries", Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love really has very little mystery in it. At least, not mystery as crime fiction readers think of it. The stories in this collection are really about the mystery of life.
Readers who follow the series know this is the sixth book in the series that has been turned into the Grantchester series on PBS. That series features Sidney Chambers and his friend, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating, and it's centered on crimes that can be dark at times. However, these stories are heavy on details of Sidney and Geordie's personal lives as well. Set from 1971 to 1976, this collection includes a murder, a missing teen, a missing book. There's a scandal at the church. And, there is a wealth of religious elements in it as Archdeacon Sidney Chambers contemplates faith, handles services, deals with a woman who wants more of a role in the church. There's music and family and friendship. Sidney spends a great deal of time contemplating his relationship with his wife. There's a surprising final chapter in this book that wraps up the series.
I was actually disappointed in this addition to the series. I haven't read the recent books, and maybe the books have been trending more towards religion and Sidney's personal life. But, that's not why I read the books. I'm looking for Sidney and Georgie to tackle crimes, and, if those crimes involve the mysteries of life, of personal relationships, that's fine. But, I wasn't expecting a book that focused on Sidney's religious and personal life with very few crimes.
I'd recommend Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love to Jan Karon's fans. This is a book about religion and faith. I wouldn't recommend it to readers looking for the next crime fiction collection.
James Runcie's website is www.jamesruncie.com
Sidney Chambers and the Persistence of Love by James Runcie. Bloomsbury. 2017. ISBN 9781632867940 (hardcover), 368p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received this book to review for a journal.