Book Review

The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

the devil's dice

A SHOCKING DEATH

A lawyer is found dead in a Peak District cave, his face ribboned with scratches.

A SINISTER MESSAGE

Amidst rumours of a local curse, DI Meg Dalton is convinced this is cold-blooded murder. There’s just one catch – chiselled into the cave wall above the body is an image of the grim reaper and the dead man’s initials, and it’s been there for over a century.

A DEADLY GAME

As Meg battles to solve the increasingly disturbing case, it’s clear someone knows her secrets. The murderer is playing games with Meg – and the dice are loaded…

A white-knuckle crime debut introducing DI Meg Dalton, perfect for fans of Broadchurch and Happy Valley.

The Devil’s Dice is the first novel to feature DI Meg Walton, and I already know that I need to read more novels featuring this character.  I warmed to her immediately, at least partly for her flaws that make her seem like a completely normal person.  She’s a bit overweight, but not quite concerned enough about it to cut out cake and junk food.  She’s worried about her mother who is, in turn, struggling to take care of her own mother, and while she wants to help more, she has little time or money to assist in any way.  On top this, she’s relatively new to the Derbyshire police force having recently moved from Manchester, with all the trials and the need to prove oneself that such a move entails.  Meg comes across as being a very normal person, with the usual concerns – big and small – that life throws at you, and this makes her extremely relatable.

Meg’s latest case initially seems quite straightforward.  Peter Hamilton, a patents lawyer, is found dead in a cave in the Peak District, and all of the evidence points to suicide.  Meg isn’t convinced, and, in digging a little deeper, finds several potential motives and suspects galore.  Just I was settling in for an intriguing but not-too-complex mystery, Watkins throws you in at the deep end without warning, and the novel becomes much more complicated in the best possible way.  I loved the complexity of the case, which weaves together multiple seemingly disparate threads to create a very compelling novel, and one that I had no chance to figuring out before the denouement.  As with the very best crime novels, all of the clues were there, I just wasn’t able to join the dots successfully.

The Devil’s Dice is set in Derbyshire, which is an area that I know very well, and I thought that Watkins captured it brilliantly.  It’s a fantastic area in which to set a crime novel, and I loved the inclusion of the Peak District as well as the surrounding towns and villages.  Eldercliffe – where much of the action takes place – is fictional, but I have a strong suspicion as to the town that inspired this location – it seemed very familiar to me.  Derbyshire is an area that is rife with folklore, and while I think that many of the myths and legends featured in the novel were of Watkins’ own invention, they fit in perfectly with the area.

The Devil’s Dice is a fantastic start to what promises to be a great series, and I can’t wait to read the second DI Meg Dalton novel, Dead Man’s Daughter.

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