This collection of short crime stories combine together to create a book that is intriguing and doesn’t waste much time. 

Having been made into a hugely successful ITV programme, it is clear from the first few pages of James Runcie’s novel why it has become so popular. The unlikely crime fighting duo of a disgruntled Inspector and reluctantly involved vicar works perfectly as their combined differences in attitude and approach seem to get things sorted in a pragmatic way.

Of course, having a selection of short stories in one book mean that the reader is given barely an opportunity to get to know many of the characters involved aside from the most central ones who move from one story to the next. It also means that everything in the plot is kept relatively straight forward and to the point – even in the murder story.

But on the other hand, it means that the quality of the writing has to be equally sharp and straight to the point – which Runcie’s is. The style is very grounded and straightforward, making points by using very few words, which isn’t a easy thing to do.

There is also a great energy and pace the further you get into the book and before you know it have reached the end. Filled with plenty of variety in the types of crimes that Sydney and Geordie have to solve as well as the different approaches to unraveling the crime, it is engrossing and enjoyable to read.

As for the characters themselves, Sydney Chambers thanks to his actual profession has a moral conscious that makes him pause for thought and allows him to think for theories that offer a different perspective of crime that might seem obvious at first. Meanwhile, the long suffering Geordie Keating has certainly a more practical approach to solving crime, drawing on his experience that can make him stubborn and set in his ways. All the other characters can feel as though they are more adaptable according to circumstance.

For all those who have enjoyed the ITV series, you might want to consider reading the books themselves for a little more insight into the two main characters. Well worth a read.

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death is available to buy on Amazon now. 

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