Sidney Chambers and the Forgiveness of Sins

James Runcie (Bloomsbury)

If you’re acquainted with the Grantchester Mysteries, chances are you’ve already devoured this fourth installment in the series, which features the Anglican vicar and amateur detective Chambers (now the Archdeacon of Ely); his German wife, Hildegarde (a superb pianist); and now their daughter, Anna, as well. Runcie is the son of the late Robert Runcie, former Archbishop of Canterbury, so he knows the territory well. Here, as in G. K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, the deepest theological questions are handled with a light touch but never trivialized. The series began in the 1950s; we’re now in the mid ’60s. Don’t read too fast!

The Speechwriter

Barton Swaim (Simon & Schuster)

It would be hard to find a better book in this year leading up to the 2016 election than Swaim’s memoir. Swaim worked for South Carolina governor Mark Sanford from 2007 to 2010. His account is unlike the usual political insider’s story. For one thing, it’s better written, funnier too, blessedly concise, and free of huffing and puffing. But in the end, the joke is on us: We get what we pay for.

Operation Long Jump

Bill Yenne (Regnery History)

This is one of the strangest books I’ve read in a long time. The cast of characters is huge, the narrative jumps here and there with abandon, but I found it utterly absorbing nonetheless. Operation Long Jump (Unternehmen Weitsprung) was a plan hatched by German intelligence to assassinate FDR, Churchill, and Stalin when they met in Tehran from November 28 to December 1, 1943. That alone is a compelling subject, but along the way, Yenne sheds considerable light on German ...

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