Date With Death
I bought this at The Little Ripon Bookshop, I think - anyway, I brought it home with me from last year's Yorkshire Holiday in the summer, and only now got round to reading it.
"Date With Death" is the first book in the "Dales Detective Series" by Julia Chapman. I had not heard of her until I bought this book, but will definitely look for more of the series - even though it took me a while to get into the story.
"Date With Death" introduces the reader to the (fictitious) small town of Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales. Other places mentioned in the book are real, and the atmosphere in Bruncliffe reminds me of small market towns such as Helmsley, Leyburn or Richmond.
The main characters are called Samson and Delilah - and in a rather predictable way, after they are off to a bad start at their first encounter, circumstances force them to work together, and chances are they will eventually renew their old friendship.
Old friendship, because Samson was born in Bruncliffe but went away to work with the police force in London, while Delilah never left. Throughout the book, there are hints (and bits and pieces come to light as the story moves on) of dark days in Samson's past as well as the reasons for his return to Bruncliffe.
Anyway, now he is back in his hometown and looking to make a living as a detective. At the same time, Delilah is working hard to overcome the emotional and financial impact of her recent divorce, trying to keep two businesses running to make ends meet. One of those businesses is a dating agency.
When Samson is asked to investigate into the death of a man whose mother can not believe it was suicide, and the man turns out to have been signed up with Delilah's agency, working together to solve the mystery becomes unavoidable. Two more men die under suspicious circumstances, and the lives of others are threatened - all of them connected to the dating agency.
Someone both Samson and Delilah care for becomes a suspect in the cases. Will they be able to clear their friend's name, overcome their own difficulties with each other and keep Delilah's business from failing?
As I said, it took me a while to get into the story. I liked the place, but I found the family issues (real or imagined) of Delilah left me cold, as did Samson's behaviour towards some of his old friends. I did like Delilah's dog, though, and Samson's Dad. My favourite character was Seth Thistlethwaite - last but not least for the sound of his name -, and elderly resident of Bruncliffe and the most sensible person in the book.
When I go back to Yorkshire this year, I will look for the next two books in the series.
Julia Chapman is Julia Stagg. You can find out more here on her official website.