Wednesday 14 August 2019

Guest Review: Date With Poison by Julia Chapman

Date with Poison is the brilliant fourth novel in Julia Chapman's Dales Detective Agency series.
Spring is in the air in Bruncliffe but not everyone is filled with the joys of the season.
Samson O’Brien of the Dales Detective Agency is being questioned by the police about a murder, with the truth about his policing past about to be brutally exposed. And with Bruncliffe turning on Samson, his business partner Delilah Metcalfe finds herself in the impossible position of defending him to her friends and family.
Then Delilah’s nephew, accused of being under Samson’s influence, runs away from home and a frantic search begins. And with attention turning to Nathan, only a local vet is paying attention to a worrying spate of canine poisonings happening throughout the village.
Bruncliffe is turning toxic and with suspicion raining down on him, Samson knows he has to ask Delilah for help. Can she forgive his transgressions and help him so that they can find Nathan and the poisoner, or has the poison already spread too far?

Review: How delightful to be transported back to the Yorkshire Dales and to revisit the exploits of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe in this fourth Dales Detective Agency mystery from Julia Chapman. I have read and enjoyed the other three books in the series, and have been looking forward to the publication of this new instalment. Although part of a series, this story can be perfectly well read as a stand-alone. However, readers of the previous books will no doubt enjoy, like me, meeting up with familiar characters and settings.

In this story, Samson and Delilah become involved in a dash against time to find out who is apparently trying to poison the dogs of the little town of Bruncliffe and surrounding farms. However, the case is complicated by the fact that somebody appears to be out to ruin Samson’s precarious standing in the town by trying to frame him for murder, revealing something of his mysterious past with the Metropolitan police and suggesting that he has begun drawing his godson into his supposedly wicked ways. Even Delilah is having second thoughts about trusting Samson. Can the pair possibly solve the puzzle of who has it in for the poor local dogs and why, and clear Samson’s name into the bargain?

I loved this story from start to finish and can highly recommend it. As I expected, it had me hooked from the very first page and kept me guessing to the very last. Julia Chapman always includes such genuine Yorkshire characters with amazing names in her stories. Of course, I am always rooting for Samson, so I feel more warmth for the people of the town who see the good in him; I am hoping that we will learn more about what went wrong in his career with the Metropolitan police in due course. There is always an element of danger rumbling just under the surface for Samson and Delilah, due mainly to property developer Rick Procter; it sounds as though we may be hearing a lot more from him in subsequent books in the series. Of course, one of the main attractions of these stories is the marvellous setting in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, so well captured by Julia Chapman’s writing that the reader can easily imagine themselves relaxing in the town of Bruncliffe or strolling through the fells. I am already looking forward to book 5 in the series, wondering if we are going to find out more about Samson’s past and how his relationship with Delilah will develop.

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