Book Review

Dead Man’s Daughter by Roz Watkins

She was racing towards the gorge. The place the locals knew as ‘Dead Girl’s Drop’…

DI Meg Dalton is thrown headlong into her latest case when she finds a ten-year-old girl running barefoot through the woods in a blood-soaked nightdress. In the house nearby, the girl’s father has been brutally stabbed to death.

At first Meg suspects a robbery gone tragically wrong, but something doesn’t add up. Why does the girl have no memory of what happened to her? And why has her behaviour changed so dramatically since her recent heart transplant?

The case takes a chilling turn when evidence points to the girl’s involvement in her own father’s murder. As unsettling family secrets emerge, Meg is forced to question her deepest beliefs to discover the shocking truth, before the killer strikes again…


I absolutely loved the first novel in this series, The Devil’s Dice, and couldn’t wait to get back to Meg Dalton and her team in this second novel.  Based on the first novel, I was expecting a clever and complex mystery and I wasn’t disappointed.

Meg’s latest case begins with the report of a young girl running through the woods, her nightdress stained with blood.  Upon finding her, Meg discovers that the girl has no memory of how she came to be in that state, yet it soon becomes more complicated as they find girl’s father stabbed to death in his bed.  So begins a difficult case that becomes increasingly convoluted as Meg and her team uncover more information.  I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery here, in which everything seems to point to the young girl having stabbed her father to death, with little evidence to the contrary.  There was an element to the plot that was quite unusual, and while I don’t want to get into it in detail, it strays into pseudo-science territory.  This can sometimes be a little off putting – for me, at least – but in Dead Man’s Daughter I thought that it was handled brilliantly.  Meg is suitably sceptical in the face of mounting evidence which matched my own views, and I thought that it was a fantastic idea to use in the plot.

This latest case couldn’t have come at a worse time for Meg, as her grandmother’s ill health has reached the point where she would like to end her life now rather than go on suffering.  It’s a heart-breaking situation, and yet Meg and her mother try to honour Meg’s grandmother’s wish, making arrangements to travel to Switzerland.  With some leave pending, Meg cannot let this case go on as she’ll be expected to see it through to the end.  Of course, such a decision is sure to divide opinions, and this leaves Meg and her family open to some abuse once the word gets out.  I really like the way that Meg’s personal life is used as a backdrop to the narrative.  In both novels, she has come across as being a realistic character, flawed and with issues in her personal life as well as those she encounters through her work, making her a brilliant and well-balanced character.

These novels are wonderfully dark in tone, but very enjoyable. Derbyshire and the Peak District once again serve as the perfect backdrop, with the folklore and geography used brilliantly, and with additional elements created by Watkins that blend in seamlessly. I can’t wait to read the third novel in the series, Cut to the Bone, which is available in hardback now.

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