It is May 1971 and Archdeacon Sidney Chambers is walking in a bluebell wood with his daughter Anna and their ageing Labrador, Byron, 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. This is the first of many disturbing secrets that Sidney unearths: a celebrated photographer is accused of rape; a priceless religious text vanishes from a Cambridge college; and Sidney's own nephew goes missing.
Endeavouring to fit his clerical duties in around the demands of sleuthing, Sidney continues to reflect on the divine mysteries of love, life and faith, while wrestling with the earthly problems of parish scandals, the challenges of parenthood, and a great loss.
This book answered some questions for me about what happened in the previous books I missed. I was surprised by the twists in the story and didn't get the closure I was looking for in the end. I hope there is more to this series.
...the stories in this collection are beautifully observed and the reader reaches into the heart of each one
James Runcie gets better with each book both as a story teller and as a man committed to his faith yet unafraid of asking question to explore the faith, beliefs or philosophy of his characters that I think most people ask either to themselves or ask of others.
The stories may not be long but they are dense as a Christmas cake. If you have read the previous books many of these characters are a renewed sighting or a continuation of these peoples lives, even if it is a fleeting glance. So it is in the readers' lives too.
If you are in your more mellow years this is a book to savour after dinner in your favourite chair, perhaps with a good whisky as Sidney would do.