About Me

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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Thursday, 7 March 2019

"The Devil's Dice" by Roz Watkins

A debut crime thriller.

DI Meg Dalton starts a new job on the murder squad of a police force in the English Peak District. The body has eaten a cyanide-laced cake while sitting in a cave reading stoic philosophy. Is it suicide or murder? And how can there be a picture of the Grim Reaper carved into the cave wall, together with the initials of the dead man, which has been covered by plant growth for years?

A classic mystery with a thriller ending.

Watkins writes some beautiful descriptions of the setting:

  • “Fields sprinkled with disgruntled-looking sheep and edged with crumbling dry stone walls. A mist of evidence-destroying drizzle in the air.” (C 1)
  • “Georgian buildings crowded around a cobbled marketplace like teeth that needed braces.” (C 19) 
  • “A bunch of fluffy chickens marched over and gave me a bit of a talking to. They seemed to have something important on their minds.” (C 8)

She can also encapsulate mannerisms:
  • “I noticed my toes were curled in my shoes as if I was clutching the floor with them.” (C 3)
  • “I could smell the lie as it slithered out of my mouth.” (C 10)
  • “Jai flicked his head around briefly, then reverted to staring forwards in the manner of men forced to get naked near each other.” (C 40)
She has taken a typical group of characters and given them a new spin: 
  • The protagonist is a loner who lives off junk food and has demons in her background. She is attacked and injured at least three times during the book. Inevitably she is taken off the case but continues to investigate on her own.
  • Her 'partner' cop is Jai. He is a lapsed Sikh going through a divorce. He fidgets a lot. He too has vulnerabilities and he is a dreadful driver. In moments of extreme danger he is in the background but will lend a helping hand (literally) at the last moment.
  • Craig is the cop who gives her grief and seems to be angling for her job. He is racist and sexist and generally obnoxious but easily crushed by a witty riposte.

Other great lines:
  • “She judged other women according to a formula involving their husband’s earnings divided by their clothes size.” (C 18)
  • “It wasn't Imposter Syndrome after all. I really was incompetent.” (C 34)
  • “You're sweating like a paedo in a Santa suit.” (C 2)

March 2019; 328 pages

My wonderful wife bought me a subscription to Books and Beer; each month I receive a crime book and some cans of beer. The other titles I have received so far are:
    • Most Wanted by Robert Craik: a fast-paced thriller set in California
    • Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth: a stunning tale of crime and revenge, of temptation and sin, of evil and redemption set in 1880s Queensland and as gritty as only the Australian Outback can get.
    • Snap by Belinda Bauer: a brilliant story about a young lad who, having become a burglar in order to survive, discovers his mother's killer.
    • Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic: a murder mystery set in Australia in which the PI is deaf
    • The Mongolian Conspiracy by Rafael Bernal: classic Chandleresque Mexican noir
    • The Closer I get by Paul Burston

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