I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I hope to throw in the occasional US or NZ author. I'm starting with Roz Watkins' very accomplished debut, The Devil's Dice:
Roz Watkins, March 2018, 368 pages, HQ, ISBN: 0008214611
THE DEVIL'S DICE introduces DI Meg Dalton who has moved back to Derbyshire from Manchester after some personal issues.
Meg is called out to the discovery of a body in a small, reputedly haunted cave. The body is that of a local, male, patent lawyer and it looks like poison is the killer. Investigations into the deceased reveal that his personality had changed over the last few months and so suicide can't be ruled out.
Meg and her sergeant, Jai, proceed to investigate further, interviewing relatives and work colleagues. Meg has trauma in her past and the nature of this is slowly revealed over the book. Her mum is a carer for Meg's bed-ridden gran and this is an added pressure when Meg is busy on a murder case.
THE DEVIL'S DICE, a debut, is an absorbing book full of many layers - both the mystery side of it, bringing in local legends and the landscape, and Meg's personal life both as a child and current. It builds to not one but two dramatic set pieces
I very much enjoyed this book. I really liked Meg, she is humorous and likeable, with a diet of choccy biscuits and a cat called Hamlet. Her sidekick seems quite fond of her too... The plot is unusual and not one that could be easily guessed. It's a real page-turner with Meg getting into regular, serious scrapes though she is not one of those energiser bunny types and it takes its toll. And of course there is a well evoked Derbyshire setting which includes real places such as Matlock, alongside a fictional town.
The sequel, DEAD MAN'S DAUGHTER, is out next April and I'm really looking forward to it.
It's not overt but I checked with the author and I have been able to add Meg to my short list of vegetarian sleuths.