An Interview with James Runcie

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Image shows covers of The Grantchester Mysteries books

With the return of the ITV drama series Grantchester this month, we're delighted to feature an interview with the author of the Grantchester mysteries, James Runcie, on our podcast this month. Interviewed by our Director of Commissioning and Editorial a few years ago, was Sidney Chambers actually based on the author's father, the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie? And what is the author's connection to the real life village of Grantchester? The Sidney Chambers books are an appealing combination of the social history of mid-1900s Britain, intermingled with crime and the author describes his books as a whydunnit as much as a whodunnit. Of course the ITV drama series has now said goodbye to James Norton as Sidney Chambers, with a new vicar, William Davenport now solving crimes alongside DCI Geordie Keating. But for any Calibre members keen to get another dose of Sidney, we're excited to announce that the author's most recent book, The Road to Grantchester, that he discusses at the end of the interview, will be making its way into the Calibre collection shortly.

James Runcie Books in the Calibre Collection


Canvey Island (7260)

While Len and Violet glide across the dance floor, Violet's husband George dwells on the war of almost 10 years ago. Back at Len's home his wife and young son are fighting for their lives in the flood that almost engulfed Canvey island in 1953.

The Colour of Heaven (6533)

In Venice in 1295 Teresa Fiolaro finds an abandoned baby. She calls him Paolo and raises him among the glass-makers of Murano. A local painter recognises his talent for distinguishing colour and tone, and sends him on a quest for the perfect blue.

The Discovery of Chocolate (6130)

Diego de Godry arrives in the New World in search of treasure - he finds love, chocolate, and the elixir of life. Denied by his lover, he and his dog Pedro search the world to recapture what he first experienced in Mexico. His search is a journey through time and the history of chocolate.

East Fortune (11278)

As the three Henderson brothers – Jack, Douglas and Angus – head toward their childhood home in East Fortune for their annual summer gathering, they steel themselves against sibling rivalry, parental expectation and the vulnerability that comes with being with those who know you best.

Sidney Chambers and the Dangers of Temptation (11390)

Archdeacon Sidney Chambers is beginning to think that the life of a full-time priest (and part-time detective) is not easy. So when a bewitching divorcee in a mink coat interrupts Sidney's family lunch asking him to help locate her missing son, he hopes it will be an open and shut case... Book 5 of the series.

Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins (11085)

The loveable full-time priest and part-time detective, Canon Sidney Chambers, continues his sleuthing adventures in 1960's Cambridge. Sidney is adjusting to married life and gaining more experience in his job. But things don't always go smoothly and he finds that he has to deal with sins and the forgiveness of them - his own and other people's, almost on a daily basis. Book 4 of the series.

Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night (10669)

The loveable full time priest and part time detective Canon Sidney Chambers, working in tandem with the increasingly exasperated Inspector Geordie Keating, are called on to investigate a series of suspicious events starting with the unexpected fall of a Cambridge don from the roof of King's College Chapel. Book 2 of the series.

Sidney Chambers and the Persistance of Night (13705)

It is May 1971 and Archdeacon Sidney Chambers is walking in a bluebell wood with his daughter Anna, when they stumble upon a body. Thrust into another murder investigation, Sidney discovers a world of hippies and psychedelic plants, where permissive behaviour seems to hide something darker. Endeavouring to fit his clerical duties around the demands of sleuthing, Sidney continues to reflect on the divine mysteries of love, life and faith.

Sidney James and the Problem of Evil (11084)

The loveable full-time priest and part-time detective, Canon Sidney Chambers, continues his sleuthing adventures in 1960's Cambridge. As well as attempting to stop a serial killer who has a grievance against the clergy, Sidney wrestles with the problem of evil, attempts to fulfill the demands of Dickens - his faithful Labrador, and contemplates, as always, the nature of love. Book 3 of the series.

Sidney James and the Shadow of Death (10200)

Sidney Chambers, vicar of Grantchester and honorary canon of Ely Cathedral, is an unconventional clerical detective. He can go where the police cannot. Together with his roguish friend, inspector Geordie Keating, Sidney discovers that being a detective, like being a clergyman, means that you are never off duty. First book of the series.

And coming soon....

The Road to Grantchester

It is 1938, and eighteen-year-old Sidney Chambers is dancing the quickstep with Amanda Kendall at her brother Robert's birthday party. No one can believe that there could ever be another war. Returning to London seven years later, Sidney has gained a Military Cross and lost his best friend on the battlefields of Italy. The carefree youth that he and his friends were promised has been blown apart and Sidney must decide what to do with the rest of his life. But he has heard a call: constant, though quiet, and growing ever more persistent. To the incredulity of his family and the derision of his friends, Sidney must now negotiate his path to God: the course of which, much like true love, never runs smooth

Image shows covers of books by James Runcie