Book review: Date With Malice by Julia Chapman

Date With Malice by Julia Chapman
Date With Malice by Julia Chapman

When malice is afoot in the Yorkshire Dales, there is only one double act which can save the day… Samson and Delilah.

Welcome back to the entertaining Dales Detective Series, Julia Chapman’s captivating mix of murder, mystery, stunning scenery and a fine line in Yorkshire humour.

Chapman – the pseudonym of Julia Stagg, author of the popular Fogas Chronicles set in the French Pyrenees – has finally shaken off her wanderlust and is now using the stunning backdrop of her new home in the Dales as the inspiration for rural whodunits brimming with charm and wit.

Date With Malice is the second book set in Bruncliffe, a fictional town in the shadow of real-life Malham Cove, where two wonderfully ill-assorted lead players, Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe, and a sparkling cast of down-to-earth Dales folk are proving an irresistible combination.

At the tender age of 29, Delilah Metcalf – website creator and owner of the Dales Dating Agency – has two businesses in debt, a bank manager on her back and a trouble-making tenant who shares her office building in her home town of Bruncliffe.

Delilah’s family history is sewn into the fabric of the hills and dales, and she is well aware that local ‘black sheep’ Samson O’Brien, owner of the Dales Detective Agency in her next door office, has returned to the town under a cloud after a 14-year absence.

But when Alice Shepherd arrives at the detective agency one December morning, convinced that someone is trying to kill her, Delilah is soon drawn into the case even though Samson dismisses Alice’s fears as the ramblings of a confused old lady.

But after a series of disturbing incidents at Alice’s Fellside Court retirement home, Samson begins to wonder if there is something to her claims after all and with Christmas just around the corner, he is thrown into a complex investigation, one that will require him to regain the trust of the Dales community he turned his back on so long ago.

Against the backdrop of a Yorkshire winter, Samson and Delilah must work together if they are to uncover the evil threatening the elderly residents of Bruncliffe, an evil that will come perilously close to home.

Chapman delivers on every level in this intriguing murder mystery… a big helping of recognisable small town life, a suitably menacing air of malevolence, an undercurrent of suspense, lashings of Yorkshire wit and a seductively simmering relationship between handsome Sansom and the delightful Delilah.

These are classic murder mysteries… beautifully written, cleverly plotted and with all the warmth and tastiness of a steaming hot mug of Yorkshire tea. Cheers to the next adventure!

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)