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grantchester tv series

During my trip to Oxford last fall, I picked up a mystery novel at Blackwells: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death. (It was on the 3-for-2 table, and I love a good British mystery.)

Sidney is a young, jazz-loving priest living in Grantchester, a village just outside Cambridge, England, in the 1950s. As the book opens, he agrees to take the funeral of a man who ostensibly killed himself, but the dead man’s lover suspects foul play and begs Sidney to investigate. The local police inspector, Geordie Keating, isn’t too happy about this, but the two men solve the mystery together.

The book includes three more cases, which Sidney solves while dealing with his trenchant housekeeper, a new puppy, and his complicated love life. Every week, he and Inspector Keating meet at the pub for a pint and a game of backgammon, during which they solve the world’s problems and often reach new breakthroughs in the current case.

These books are leisurely, erudite, full of Sidney’s thoughtful musings on faith, crime and the nature of love (and Keating’s blunt but insightful responses). Some of the mysteries are much more intriguing than others, and Sidney can be frustratingly indecisive, but I like him and the supporting cast so well that I’ve read all three books in the series.

This winter, there’s a brand-new BBC adaptation of the series, called Grantchester, airing Sunday nights on PBS. I stayed up to watch the first episode (after Downton Abbey) a few weeks ago, and immediately fell in love. The hubs is usually skeptical of my BBC obsessions, but we watched the second episode together and now he’s hooked too.

The casting – particularly of Sidney, Geordie, and Sidney’s childhood friend Amanda – is fantastic. The jazz soundtrack is utterly bewitching, and the golden stone towers of Cambridge make a perfect backdrop for Sidney’s adventures. I love watching him dart around town on his bike, and the chemistry between Sidney and Geordie reminds me of Sergeant Hathaway and Inspector Lewis. And Dickens the lab pup has stolen my heart all over again.

This series is right in my wheelhouse: England, mysteries, philosophy, faith, witty banter and love stories are a few of my favorite things. If you’re a fan of any of the above, you might love it too.

(Image from pbs.org)

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