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The Dales Detective Agency – gentle murder mysteries set in the Yorkshire Dales

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Yorkshire has many links to the classic crime novel – as well as each year in July the Theakston’s Crime Writing Festival being held in Harrogate, it was also Harrogate’s Old Swan Hotel where Agatha Christie ran off to hide after faking her own death.

But, more recently I came across this lovely series of gentle crime novels by Julia Chapman, set in the fictional town of Bruntcliffe in the Yorkshire Dales. They highlight the joys and hardships of living in the Dales, plus each novel is expertly researched bringing the work of vets, auction marts and farming accurately to life.

Classed as Cosy Crime, the Dales Detective series follows the adventures of Samson O’Brien and Delilah Metcalfe as they solve crimes throughout the Yorkshire Dales. Samson a former under-cover policeman who is now suspended had left the town under a cloud fourteen years earlier returns and sets up the Detective Agency, renting office space from Delilah. She is recently divorced, struggling to keep her business afloat and has strong family ties to the area.

Over the series of books their relationship flowers as Delilah and her pet weimaraner Tolpuddle join forces to investigate thefts and murders, whilst at the same time their will they won’t they romantic attraction grows.

With Delilah’s local knowledge, contacts and IT expertise and Samson’s detective training they make a formidable pair.

The author Julia Chapman is the pseudonym of Julia Stagg, who has also written a series of books set in France called the Fogas Chronicles. She is well travelled having lived in Japan, Australia, the USA and most recently France before moving back to the Yorkshire Dales. Interestingly she is a keen walker and also when not writing spends her time out in the hills fell running – coincidently a pass-time her two main characters both enjoy.

When asked about what’s behind the growing success of Cozy Crime, Chapman explains “For me as an author, there are two key ingredients that make cosy crime beguiling. The first is the thrill of the mystery; the opportunity to decipher the clues without the distractions of bloodshed and brutality”

“And the second essential element? I like my crime with a dose of laughter”.

The novels are set in the Dales and the fictional town of Bruntcliffe is actually based upon Settle. But many of the other locations go by their real names and it is fascinating to read these novels actually knowing at first hand where the tales are set. I would love to see it made into a TV series to help attract even more visitors to the Yorkshire Dales.

If you fancy a good read and trying out the series start with book 1 – A Date with Death.

Then if you like it you can work through another six with one more on the way!

The Dales Detective Agency – Books in order

Date with Death (2017)

Date with Malice (2017)

Date with Mystery (2018)

Date with Poison (2019)

Date with Danger (2019)

Date with Deceit (2021)

Date with Betrayal (2022)

And soon to be released

Date with Evil (2023)


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