Julia Chapman

Date With Malice

"...a finely crafted novel, with many red herrings and clues..."


Samson O'Brien has come back to the Yorkshire Dales village of Bruncliffe, having been dismissed as a police officer with the National Crime Agency in London. Here he has formed the Dales Detective Agency, his landlady being Delilah Metcalfe, who runs the Dales Dating Agency from the same address. It's coming up to Christmas, and Alice Shepherd, who lives in the Fellside Court retirement home, pays him a visit, asking him to investigate a series of mysterious happenings in the court. In the absence of any evidence of wrongdoing, Samson is dubious. But when Alice is found dead (was it a natural or unnatural death?), he begins to take an interest. This is compounded by two further accidents (or were they accidents?).

There are questions aplenty. Is the Fellside Court's beautiful, blonde manager Ana Stoyanova, all she seems? Is she Bulgarian or Serbian? What of the mysterious pill box? And what of Samson's other case - the disappearance of a prize tup from Clive Knowles' Farm? Who took it? Where is it? And finally, when will Samson and Delilah finally realise that they're attracted to each other?

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This, the second in the Samson and Delilah series, is a finely crafted novel, with many red herrings and clues scattered throughout its pages. It could be looked on as a 'cosy', though the bleakness of a cold, wet Dales winter and the fears of the Fellside Court's residents as things unfold give it a very 'un-cosy' edge. Julia Chapman is the nom de plume of Julia Stagg, author of the popular Fogas Chronicles, a series of mysteries set in the French Pyrenees. Her writing is lucid and to the point. She lays out her clues fairly, teasingly mingled with some red herrings, and she leaves the door open at the end of the novel for further investigations by Samson and Delilah. In fact, the third in the series, 'Date With Mystery', will be published by Pan Macmillan soon.

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