Date With Death by Julia Chapman – review

Published by Pan Macmillan

Publication date – 9 March 2017

Source – own copy

Samson O’Brien has been dismissed from the police force, and returns to his hometown of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales to set up the Dales Detective Agency. However, the villagers aren’t that welcoming to a man they see as trouble.

Delilah Metcalfe is struggling to keep her business, the Dales Dating Agency, afloat as well as trying to control her wayward dog, Tolpuddle, when Samson’s first case – a supposed suicide – takes an unexpected turn, and a trail of deaths lead back to the door of Delilah’s agency.

With suspicion hanging over someone they both care for, the two feuding neighbours soon realize that they need to work together to solve the mystery of the dating deaths. But working together is easier said than done . . .

Delilah Metcalfe is struggling to make ends meet. The bank have given her six months to start to pay her debts as her dating agency barely makes enough to pay mortgages on her home and business. So she is keen to accept a tenant for her spare office. Until she realises it’s Samson O’Brien, childhood friend turned foe, who has returned home to start a detective agency. It also doesn’t help that two of Delilah’s clients have died. When Samson is hired by the mother of one of the dead clients, it soon becomes apparent to the pair that there is a killer in the Dales town. Can both of them set their differences aside to find out who?

The story opens with the return of black sheep Samson, and hints at a past that may be construed of tragedy and misunderstanding. As the story progresses people begin to form different views of the long-lost son of a drunken farmer and he begins to make friends, not least with Delilah.

This is the first in the Dales mystery series and sets up the town and characters beautifully. There are some characters who the reader will want to recur, others we’d rather not but they balance out the cast well, and hint at future possible storylines. There’s a mixture from young to old, interfering to down right unpleasant.

The setting is great. Small town, surrounded by beauty that can become bleak, it has all the makings for many a secret to be discovered, or protected at all costs. The reader can easily imagine the hulk of the surrounding hills and the vast swathes of green fields, tended to by farmers and dotted with sheep. They can get mildly out of breath imagining walking up the narrow town streets and peering in at the pub window with it’s curmudgeonly landlord behind the bar.

The mystery itself is intriguing. What do the dead men have in common? Why would someone be targeting Delilah’s clients? The pair have to figure out what connects them before any more people are hurt or killed.

This is a book that has sat on my shelf for a few years, waiting to be read. I always say there are no use by dates on books. I picked up Date with Death at the right time and it was lovely to be whisked away for a cosy crime, with a pair that have the promise of working well together.

This is a great introduction to what promises to be a lovely series. I’m looking forward to reading more.

You can buy a copy of the book here.

(This is an affiliate link so I may earn a small amount should you purchase through it. You can also buy Date with Death at your local independent bookshop.)

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