You can’t go wrong with a cosy mystery in my book… There are a few series which I return to time and again, including the two which are under discussion today.
First up is Sidney Chambers and The Forgiveness of Sins by James Runcie. This series is the basis for the ITV crime drama Grantchester, although if you read the books you will know that Sidney’s personal life is very different to that which is portrayed on screen.
As usual, Sidney is struggling to balance family life with being a priest and part-time detective. However, he also has a new job as archdeacon and his best friend is getting married. In this collection of short stories, Sidney must uncover if a musician was murdered or killed accidentally by a piano falling on him, and if the man who comes to his church confessing his guilt over killing his wife is telling the truth. The story which moved me the most was the one in which the author addresses the abuse of male and female teenagers by the clergy; their words will make your blood boil. This is the fourth book in the series, and I am heavily invested in Sidney’s life by now and am eagerly planning to get my hands on the next book.
Another character who I have grown to love is Lady Emily in Tasha Alexander’s Dangerous to Know, the fifth book in the series. Emily and her husband Colin are staying with his mother in France, when Emily comes across the dead body of a girl brutally murdered in a fashion similar to the victims of Jack the Ripper.
This novel, set in 1892, examines how women were expected to behave in Victorian times, which readers in 2017 will find uncomfortable. Emily is a character designed to appeal to modern audiences and who strains against society’s expectations. There is friction between Emily and Colin, and I found myself berating Colin for his treatment of Emily. She has lost her baby and nearly her life; she is haunted by her gruesome discovery of the dead body; yet her husband and mother-in-law expect an apology from her for her change in behaviour as she grapples with her emotional distress. I wanted to shout at Colin in fury!
Do you have any favourite historical characters?