“The Body in the Dales” by J.R. Ellis – Book Review

As a bona fide anglophile, books set in England always appeal to me. My mother was a war bride and I still have a lot of family in the ‘old country’. I’ve read all of the James Herriot books and love the Yorkshire area. The setting, and the fact that this is a police procedural, is what attracted me to this book.

As with many traditional mystery stories, the novel opens with the discovery of a body. The man was found deep in a cave called “The Jingling Pot“. He was not equipped with caving gear, and since there had been a team of cavers in that location just a few days previously, it was a mystery why they had not found him sooner. He had been dead for over a week. The victim is identified as Dave Atkins, a local rogue and financial speculator. He was an unpleasant man who was not liked by many – a fact that leaves the police with no shortage of viable suspects.

Tasked with solving this puzzling murder are the West Riding Police team of DCI Jim Oldroyd (an experienced local man), DS Andrew Carter (in his late twenties, who has been newly transferred to Yorkshire from the Met in London), and DS Stephanie Johnson (a local girl with a traumatic background).

This case is specially perplexing as Atkins’ body was found some two hours into the cave system, parts of which were extremely narrow. It would be VERY difficult to transport a body through the cave. Also, it would have been near impossible for one person to do this on their own.

Road across a Yorkshire moor such as which Oldroyd and his team would have traveled many times during their investigations.

Many of the suspects they encounter in their investigations are experienced cavers, some of them are even on the cave rescue team. It would seem that local knowledge is the key to solving the case.  Motives are many, but HOW and by WHOM was Atkins murdered?

The police team in this novel were very engaging. The older, experienced DCI Oldroyd, the younger city man, Andrew Carter, and the attractive though troubled local girl, Stephanie Johnson. I enjoyed their interactions, and thought their characters were well-rounded. They came across as very ‘real’ people.

As I mentioned earlier, the setting is one of my favourites. The Yorkshire Dales holds an endless fascination for me. The plotting was reminiscent of the traditional mysteries of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, etc. This made a nice change from the more convoluted thriller plots I’ve been reading recently. Written like a perplexing puzzle, the novel appealed on that level as well – I can never ignore a good puzzle.

The ending of this whodunit was tied up neatly. Nothing far-fetched, just believable, sound police work. The coppers displayed keen observational skills and some astute knowledge of human nature.

To my knowledge, this is the first of three novels featuring this police team and I intend to read them all. Recommended!

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Thomas & Mercer/AmazonUK publishing via NetGalley. This review is my way of saying thank-you.

NOTE: This title was previously published under the title: “The Body in Jingling Pot“.

J.R. (John) Ellis is an Oxford graduate and has had a long career teaching English. He has always been fascinated by the paranormal and by mysteries, conspiracy theories and unexplained crimes.
His love of his native county is deep and the settings of his Yorkshire Murder Mysteries within Yorkshire’s varied landscapes are important. He believes the element of puzzle is essential to crime fiction and his novels contain a double mystery: the standard “who dunnit?” but also “how dunnit?!”
His novels display a vivid sense of place and a compelling mystery! His characters, both innocent and guilty, are mostly ordinary people.
He is a member of a writers’ group which has inspired him to write poetry and various forms of short fiction. Besides being a writer of crime fiction, ghost stories, and biography, he also likes to garden, walk, run, drink real ale, and listen to classical music. He lives in Leeds.

Visit J.R. Ellis on Twitter

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
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5 Responses to “The Body in the Dales” by J.R. Ellis – Book Review

  1. Harrogate Police HQ is North Yorkshire, not West Yorkshire!
    As is Skipton.
    However, I did enjoy the book especially being an ex North Yorkshire Bobby.


    • Creative licence? LOL I’m impressed that you liked it being an ex Bobby. I live in Canada so would not notice such an error. My first cousin’s husband was a Yorkshire policeman. Though he is now retired… Peter Burkitt.


  2. carhicks says:

    Nice review Lynne, where does this one fit into the series? I always enjoy your graphics, they make the book come alive.


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