Cut To The Bone (2020) by Roz Watkins

Violet Armstrong, an internet celebrity, famed for promoting meat, barbecuing wearing little more than just a bikini, has disappeared. She had been volunteering at the local abattoir, but disappears during the nightshift. Her car was still there but as for her – well, there are some very hungry pigs on site, ideal for disposing of a body without much of a trace…

DI Meg Dalton has her own worries – her grandmother has recently died, her father has come back into her life while her mother is planning a trip to El Salvador – but soon the case has to become her number one priority. With animal rights vigilantes on the rampage, and a murderer whose plans are far from over, Meg will find that secrets will always come to the surface, no matter deep they are buried…

Book three of the Meg Dalton series – following The Devil’s Dice and Dead Man’s Daughter – but I don’t think you have to read them in order, but to get the full force of the various traumas in Meg’s life, you possibly should. And that’s the only negative I’ve got about this one, something that often bugs me. There’s another event that happens in this one that I haven’t intimated at, but let’s hope for a bit of light in her life next time round.

Putting that to one side, Roz Watkins continues to astound me with her ability to juggle seemingly disparate plot strands into a coherent whole. Oh, I didn’t mention the Pale Child, a local spirit (?) who if you see it, basically you’re doomed. Violet saw it shortly before her disappearance. Oh, and she was searching for her mother, a woman who denies she ever had a child. And as for her father…

Anyway, the plot ricochets all over the place until we get to the tense finale, and again it’s a sign of the quality of the writing and the plotting that one aspect of the finale which had to potential to come across as a touch on the silly side, doesn’t due to the fact that everything to justify it had been put in place earlier in the tale. It’s like introducing the gun in chapter one that’s going to be fired in chapter three. Only with… well, that would be a spoiler.

The other thing worth noting, given the subject matter, is that the text never gets preachy in the vegetarian-vs-omnivore debate, laying both sides of the argument for the reader to make a judgement, should they care to.

So, another first rate mystery-thriller in this series. But let’s hope for a little light in Meg’s personal life next time.

Cut To The Bone is out tomorrow – June 25th – in the UK. Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for the review copy.

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