The title of Julia Chapman's debut mystery, Date with Death, doesn't do it justice. Neither does the book jacket. The title and cover make it appear to be a cozy mystery. It is not. It's a traditional mystery. It's meaty with great characters. Don't hesitate to pick it up because of the title or cover art.
Samson O'Brien always felt like an outsider in Bruncliffe, the village in the Yorkshire Dales. His father was the town drunk after his mother died. Then Samson left town abruptly, and the gossip started. It only grew worse when he didn't return for the funeral of his best friend, Ryan Metcalfe, when Ryan was killed in Afghanistan. Now that he's back, Ryan's sister, Delilah, welcomes Samson with a punch to the face. But, the laugh is on her. Samson is her new tenant, and Delilah, with two struggling businesses, is desperate for the money. No one in town believes that Samson's Dales Detective Agency will make it, though.
But, when a dead man's mother hires Samson, everything changes. She's convinced he didn't commit suicide. As Samson investigates, Delilah realizes the three dead men in town were all clients of her dating agency. Because she could lose her business to gossip, Delilah hires Samson to find a killer. And, what better way to do it than to use Samson as bait?
Bruncliffe is a village struggling with folding businesses. As the setting for this English village mystery, it's home to an unusual group of people. It's fascinating to watch the relationships and personalities in this town. Chapman skillfully sets the scene and introduces the characters in a new series, with hints of an ongoing mystery. Date with Death is an intriguing mystery that shows great possibilities for the future.
Julia Chapman's website is www.jstagg.com
Date with Death by Julia Chapman. Minotaur Books. 2017. ISBN 9781250109361 (hardcover), 384p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book for review for a journal.