Date With Justice by Julia Chapman: Clever, cosy and refreshingly original – book review –

Still reeling from the unmasking of a crooked property tycoon who cast a long shadow over the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, the small town of Bruncliffe finally has a chance to celebrate.
Date With Justice by Julia ChapmanDate With Justice by Julia Chapman
Date With Justice by Julia Chapman

The marriage of two popular townsfolk has brought welcome smiles but there’s trouble afoot for private investigator, and now undercover Met detective, Samson O’Brien and his chalk-and-cheese partner in the Dales Detective Agency, Delilah Metcalfe.

Delilah’s brother, Will Metcalfe, is under suspicion of murder and it would seem to be an open-and-shut case... unless Samson and Delilah can dig deep to discover who the real culprit is.

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Welcome back to drop-dead gorgeous Bruncliffe, the not-so-sleepy Dales town where murder, mystery and malice are only ever a heartbeat away. Date With Justice is the ninth novel in Julia Chapman’s brilliantly entertaining Dales Detective Agency series which stars the irresistible Samson and the delightful Delilah, owner of the Dales Dating Agency.

These enchanting whodunits are a hot favourite with readers seduced by the stunning scenery, ingenious plotting, superb characterisation, and Chapman’s fine line in earthy Yorkshire wit.

In our return to Bruncliffe, the Dales Detective Agency is on the brink of closure following Samson’s return to his position as an undercover operative for the Met in London, and his relationship with Delilah is under pressure.

And their woes are only multiplied when ecologist Ross Irwin – who is set to make a pivotal decision on a contentious local planning application – is found dead, leaving the finger of blame pointing firmly at Delilah’s volatile older brother, Will Metcalfe.

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It’s known that an argument between the two men over an ecology report for planning permission got out of hand, and farmer Will, who was seen pinning Irwin to the wall during a heated conversation at the recent wedding, has a notoriously hot temper.

But Delilah won’t accept Will is guilty and neither will Samson. Dropping everything, he returns to Bruncliffe to help prove Will’s innocence. But as the two detectives start investigating, they unearth more than they bargained for... and soon realise that the price of justice can be very costly indeed.

There is a timeless charm to Chapman’s writing as the simmering relationship between Samson and Delilah plays out against intriguing mysteries, a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, and the rolling hills and rural delights of the Dales.

Chapman pens her stories with the lightest of touches but there is still a layer of gritty reality beneath the wryly funny double act of Samson and Delilah, and the now familiar, down-to-earth residents of Bruncliffe.

Clever, cosy and refreshingly original, Date With Justice is a quintessentially Yorkshire reading treat and best imbibed with a cup of hot tea!

(Pan, paperback, £9.99)

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