When this book was chosen as the Waterstones Lisburn Reading Group ‘book of the month’ for February 2018, it was not a book I expected to enjoy and certainly not to the extent I did.
It is what is referred to as a cozy crime novel comparable to M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin stories or Rebecca Tope’s stories set in the Cotswolds; all with plots which would grace any Midsummer Murders story.
The two major characters in the story are Samson and Delilah. Samson is a former London policeman returning home to the Yorkshire Dales under a cloud of some kind. Delilah is a fairly recent divorcee who has set up a dating agency which is beginning to, but not quite yet, pay its way. The Dales Dating Agency needs some major financial input which unexpectedly comes from the Dales Detective Agency who rents office space from Delilah.
The plot centres on the fact that clients who have been coming to the dating agency ‘speed-dating’ evenings are being murdered. Despite an initial antipathy between them - the result of appalling behaviour by Sansom in the past - the two eventually solve the murders.
These major characters are well drawn, as are the others in the story. As this is the first book in a series set in Bruncliffe in the Yorkshire Dales, quite an amount of space is given over both to minor characters and a description of the village and its surroundings. Julia Chapman does a great job of uncovering the Yorkshire landscape for the reader.
It was also a wonderful change to read a crime novel without a horrific rape scene in the first chapter.
I do have to say that I just cannot get my head around middle aged sheep farmers speed dating and I’d rather the main protagonists had other names - maybe Adam and Eve?
However, all in all, a combination of well portrayed characters in a delightful setting with an excellent story line makes it highly like I’ll read Julia Chapman’s next offering.