Julia Chapman

Date With Poison

"A very enjoyable addition to this addictive series."


It is March in Bruncliffe, in the Yorkshire Dales. Though winter hasn't yet completely loosened its grip, things should be looking up. But they're not. Samson O'Brien of the Dales Detective Agency is being questioned about a murder, and his time as an undercover policeman with the National Crime Agency in London, and his subsequent suspension from the force could be exposed. Not only that, his partner in the Dales Detective Agency, Delilah Metcalfe, now appears to have given up on him. Then, in the school locker of Nathan, Delilah's nephew, a small tin filled with ketamine (a class B drug, banned in the UK), is discovered. Is Nathan doing drugs? He denies he had anything to do with it, and when no one believes him he runs away onto the moors. As Samson isn't liked in Bruncliffe, suspicion falls on him as being the dealer. But that's not the end of the troubles that are besetting Bruncliffe. Someone is poisoning dogs in the town, laying tainted sausages at various points so that the dogs will eat them. Herriot Ellison, the local vet, is worried that a dog may eventually die. Who could be doing this, and why?

Samson, meanwhile, has to attend a hearing in London about his case. Should he attend, or should he join the search party out on the moors looking for Nathan, and possibly jeopardise his career? Everything is finally resolved, though some important issues still hang in the air, no doubt being resolved in the next Bruncliffe book.

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This is the fourth book in the Dales Detective Agency series. There is no murder as such to be solved, but the plot has many strands to keep you guessing as to the identity of the dog poisoner right to the end (and the way the culprit is unmasked is superbly done). Perhaps some of the dialogue is slightly overwritten, but this is a minor criticism in a book that is difficult to put down. One wonders however, how long Julia Chapman can keep the sub-plot of Samson's suspension and the subsequent investigation of his activities in London going. This situation will have to be resolved before it becomes a clichÄ— that interferes with the storylines. A very enjoyable addition to this addictive series.

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