Review: ‘Grantchester’

John Thomas

Sometimes people would rather confer with a priest than a policeman. That certainly seems to be the case in the Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester, England.

When a man is found dead in his office with a gun in one hand and a note begging forgiveness in the other, it’s easy for Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), with his gruff, methodical manner, to declare it a suicide. No further investigation is needed. No one in the village would disagree with him.

There is one resident, however, who feels this death is not suicide but murder–the man’s mistress. Rather than reveal her suspicions to the police, she calls on the young vicar, Sidney Chambers (James Norton). With his kind face, caring demeanor and gentle smile he patiently listens to her story and becomes convinced she could be correct.

He decides to pay a visit to Keating who, after hearing his story, is very dismissive of him and his ideas. “What does a vicar know about crime?” he muses to himself as he escorts Sidney out of his office.

Sidney won’t let go and returns to police headquarters the next day with some compelling evidence. His information was gathered under “priest/parishioner” confidentially. This time Keating is a little more receptive and slowly begins to realize there may be truth to what Sidney is suggesting.

The two set out to investigate further–the methodical and the intuitive working in tandem. Their probing proves it was in fact a murder. They celebrate their success bringing truth to light and criminals to justice by having a pint in a pub.

A barking dog wakes Sidney from a sound sleep. Rushing outside to investigate, he sees smoke coming from a nearby house. He dashes over to find the father and children safely outside but not the mother who is still inside the house. Sidney finds her sitting calmly in the parlor surrounded by flames and smoke. He finally coaxes her outside; the family is not sure how the fire started–perhaps ashes from the hearth?

Days later the father is found dead. No one has seen anything, no weapon has been found and, above all, no reason for the death. It’s most unlikely the two events are connected, but they could be. Sidney and Keating set out once more to investigate.

Their diverse crime solving strategies work again to discover the truth: the tangled connection between the two events, their causes discovered and the perpetuators brought to justice. Time for another pint.

Barely finishing their second pint, a fellow police officer dashes into the pub to inform Keating that a policeman has been found dead on a bridge. Backgammon and pints put aside, the investigative team rush to the scene. No doubt, at the end of this investigation, they will have earned another pint and game of backgammon.

This is a “Must See” for crime solving taking place in a charming English, countryside village. The 50s period is beautifully documented in the sets, props, costumes and dialogue. Faith and force can work together–intuition is often useful. As a bonus, each episode includes a timely and comforting message by the vicar to his audiences.


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