Six loosely connected stories featuring that mid-20th-century Cambridge sleuth Canon Chambers.
Still uncertain if he’s ready for marriage, Cambridge canon Sidney Chambers enjoys his weekly backgammon games at the pub with Inspector Keating, his daily walks with his faithful Labrador Dickens, his frequent luncheons with wealthy, beautiful Amanda Kendall when she’s down from London, his jaunts to Germany to moon over his soul mate, widow Hildegard Staunton, and his hobby, deducing whodunit and why when others are stumped. A don’s misstep off the roof of King’s College in “The Perils of the Night” makes him wonder why anyone would murder a man who was going to die anyway. “Love and Arson” reminds him that people sometimes burn places down to get rid of dead bodies. “Unholy Week” finds him scrutinizing salacious magazines for clues to a bathtub fatality. Racism comes to the fore in “The Hat Trick,” which will be mostly incomprehensible to those readers not conversant with the game of cricket. The bachelor vicar dispenses matrimonial advice to a bigamist in “The Uncertainty Principle.” A spy passes a message to him in “Appointment in Berlin,” in which he’s incarcerated by the Stasi before finally committing to a life together with Hildegard.
Less engaging than Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death (2012), but still a sharp portrait of scholarly rivalries that makes room for a riff on jazz in a Mozart score and a grim reminder of East and West Germany as the wall was going up.