The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

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…

Usually on my blog, I do my own “blurb” for the book. You never know, someone might spot what I’m doing, prefer my blurbs, and get me a presitigious blurb-writing job. But on very rare occasions I reproduce the official blurb. And obviously this is one of those occasions. Because it doesn’t really represent the book.

The first two paragraphs are true enough, but it implies that this is a different sort of book than it actually is. The implication is that the “impossible initials” is an important part of the plot – and it really isn’t. The idea of the curse is a running theme throughout the book – in fact the nature of the curse is one of the more impressive aspects of the plot – but don’t head for this one based on the implied impossible crime.

The third paragraph though… there really isn’t any game playing here – it’s not that sort of story. The murderer has a plan and apart from one particular bit – more on that later – there’s not game playing. What we have is a decent police procedural with a protagonist who develops over the course of the book with some interesting things to say about some important issues.

It’s not perfect – the first half of the book dragged a bit for me, the second half being much more gripping, and I felt the suspects were a fairly indistinguishable bunch for the most part – but once it settles down, it’s a good read. As Meg’s background becomes clearer – the revelation of the secrets from her past are drip-fed through the story – she becomes a more relatable character, and her team develops nicely through the story. The finale (well, finales, sort of) is exciting, although an extremely odd use of the Monty Hall Problem seemed rather out of place – but at least it was given the correct solution – hurrah for Mathematics!

All in all, an interesting read, not going in the directions that the reader might expect but as a debut police procedural novel, this is definitely Well Worth A Look.

The Devil’s Dice is released the Thursday, March 8th from HQ, a division of Harper Collins UK.

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