A local lad returns to Yorkshire to investigate threats to his clients, human and ovine.
On leave from the London police, Samson O’Brien (Date with Death, 2017) wants to make a go of Dales Detective Agency in his native Bruncliffe. He’s eager to help Clive Knowles of Mire End Farm find his lost Ralph, at least until Samson discovers that Ralph is a ram. But he’s not sure that he prefers Alice Shepherd as a potential client. Although Mrs. Shepherd is incontrovertibly human, her mind isn’t what it used to be. And her complaints of dark doings at Fellside Court retirement complex—missing scarves, stolen cufflinks, and a shadowy figure who stalks the halls at night—seem at least as likely due to incipient dementia as to any actual threat to the elderly residents. Samson changes his mind when Mrs. Shepherd suddenly dies. Although Alice had high blood pressure and the coroner declines to do a post-mortem, Samson fears she may have been right in her suspicions. With the support of his spirited young landlady, Delilah Metcalfe, whose Dales Dating Agency shares an office building with his, Samson begins to question the other Fellside residents, starting with his own father. When Joseph O’Brien sold his farm to local developer Rick Procter—for far less than its true value, in Samson’s opinion—Joseph received a small apartment at Fellside as part of his payment. So it’s only natural for Samson to step up the pace of his filial visits and take the opportunity to chat with his pa’s neighbors, too. Samson’s latest case moves along nicely the tale of the black sheep of Bruncliffe returned home to make amends to his former neighbors, especially the Metcalfe clan.
Chapman’s second entry positions her well in the world of village-life detection, with just enough puzzle, just enough romance, and more than its share of wacky villagers.