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The Devil's Dice

Hardback edition released 08/03/2018

by Roz Watkins

Thriller and Suspense Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Crime and Mystery eBooks of the Month

LoveReading Expert Review of The Devil's Dice

March 2018 Debut of the Month

The first in the ‘DI Meg Dalton Thriller’ series is an addictive, absolute treat of a read. Meg recently moved forces and is now based in Derbyshire, she is thrown in the deep end when a lawyer is found dead in a cave and a sinister game of cat and mouse is initiated. ‘The Devil’s Dice’ was shortlisted for the 2016 Crime Writers Association Debut Dagger Award (for unpublished writers), so my expectations were high, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The first few pages set my thoughts fluttering, and throughout this tale a ghostly shadow hovers over the pages. Roz Watkins allows humour to enter at just the right moments, and has created a fabulous main lead. While Meg does have her fair share of problems, and a certain vulnerability too, she really grew on me. As I read, I set my mind free, to delve into the pages, to ponder, to speculate. The Devil’s Dice’ is just so readable, this is a thoroughly modern tale with a teasing strange connection to the past, and a towering cliff hanger of an ending… hopefully there will be many more stories to come.

Liz Robinson

The Devil's Dice Synopsis

A white-knuckle crime debut introducing DI Meg Dalton, perfect for fans of Broadchurch and Happy Valley. This game can only end in murder.

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...

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780008214616
Publication date: 8th March 2018
Author: Roz Watkins
Publisher: HQ an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Collections: 100+ Female Led Crime Fiction,
Primary Genre Thriller and Suspense
Other Genres:
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The Devil's Dice Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

This book is an excellent read - I found it hard to put down!

DI Meg Dalton wants to impress and to feel that she lives up to the expectation of those who have appointed her to a new job in a new area. The story begins with an apparent suicide in a cave in Derbyshire. Meg’s instincts make her feel that there is more to this case than is obvious. She is shown into the cave by a local policeman who investigated a suicide some time ago when a girl hung herself there. The latest victim is a partner in a local business and lives in a house which is locally thought to be cursed. Meg’s investigations seem to put her in danger, but during her work she finds new links which could mean that her own family could be targets. 

Another member of the victim’s family is found dead, suggesting even more strongly that this is a murder investigation and when Meg does not disclose something that could implicate her own Mother she is suspended from the case. Two further members of the victim’s family go missing and Meg begins to realise what the curse could be and how the connections are being made. The final scenes are exciting and breath-taking.

Throughout this book there is a sense of threat which is really well written and the story moves along at a good pace. I will certainly look for further books by this author.

Kathy Howell

A real page-turner of a supernatural murder mystery where nothing is quite as it seems.

DI Meg Watkins has recently transferred to the Derbyshire to be nearer her mum and grandmother. Her first case is the mysterious murder of a patent lawyer whose body is found in a cave in the peak district. Carved into the wall by his body was the image of the grim reaper along with the dead man’s initials. Though these were carved over a hundred years ago. Meg, and her partner Jai’s investigations open up the supernatural theories of a curse in the area and the cave. It soon becomes clear that someone knows much more and when more bodies turn up, it’s clear it is more than an ancient curse killing the locals…

The snippets of Meg’s backstory and how these applied to the case were cleverly constructed. I enjoyed the building relationship with Meg and Jai, and their banter. Meg’s complicated relationship with her mum and her gran added an extra dimension. Meg is a real tenacious character. Intelligent, witty and strong but with a real appreciation of her own flaws. 

This was a great read. A proper page-turning thriller. I enjoyed every twist and turn. I liked the dark and sinister edge of the historical curse, the eclectic cast of characters and the setting of the peak district (sideways rain and all). A brilliant debut and I look forward to further investigations with DI Meg Watkins.

Nicola Kingswell

Easy reading and intriguing thriller with characters full of fun and a sense of reality about their lives.

DI Meg Dalton has moved from Manchester (the reason slowly revealed through the course of the story telling) to the seemingly quiet and innocent world of her home town in Derbyshire.

When a man is found dead in a remote Derbyshire cave, Meg is thrown into a world of local gossip with talk of devil worship, ancient Greek myths and so on.  Did the man commit suicide or was there something more sinister about his death? Is the home of the murdered man truly haunted and were the deaths of former residence really suicide or again, more sinister.

I really grew to engage with Meg and her glorious sense of irony enhanced by her growing relationship with her fellow investigating Jai and her conflicts with the irascible Craig.  The story was also enhanced by the slow revealing of what had happened to Meg during her time in Manchester and just how did she injure her foot?

Don’t anticipate this will be quite as addictive as I find the Rebus series of books, for example, but I truly do hope that this is a first of many books following further DI Meg Dalton cases and look forward to re-engaging with the very appealing Meg.

Phylippa Smithson

A (Derbyshire) debut worthy of your time. Really enjoyable and clever.

The dedication to this novel reads as follows: 'For my parents. Thank you for your support, encouragement, and advice on how to kill people' and I thought, this sounds like my kind of family, bring on the book.

DI Meg Dalton has recently joined the local force in Derbyshire after some unexplained 'issues' back in Manchester. She has to confront her past, prejudice from her new colleagues...oh and a murder in a cave in the middle of nowhere which seems to have been predicted over a century ago by whoever made the carvings of the Grim Reaper in the cave wall. 

This was a really enjoyable and clever debut from Rob Watkins. I loved the way she wove the history of the Labyrinth and the cliff house into the story and I liked that Meg's own issues weren't necessarily from the traditional book of detective flaws. I've also developed a slight crush on DS Jai Sanghera so I'm hoping there is a sequel underway so I can continue to indulge this. Fingers crossed! 

Nikki Whitmore

A satisfying and enjoyable debut about a Peak District Detective's investigation of a grisly murder, a local curse, witchcraft and suicides. Well-paced and entertaining.

An enjoyable debut with a likeable, slightly flawed, self-deprecating main character DI Meg Dalton.  Set in the Peak District, Roz and her sidekick Jai, investigate the death of a man found in a local cave under suspicious and peculiar circumstances.  Their investigations take them to his home perched on the edge of a quarry, and an apparent curse on the families that have lived there, as well as to a local subterranean world linked to a dark history of witchcraft and suicides. 

The story was the usual fare of a crime thriller with twists and turns, red herrings and a variety of suspects and although it bordered on the extremely unlikely at times, it managed to just about stay on the right side of ridiculous.  Meg and Jai doggedly stayed on the case, despite a whole of raft of things being thrown at them and a certain amount of menace was maintained, especially a nightmare inducing description of a pot-holing search incident which made me shudder.  Although the curse was not quite what was expected, I thought that the real explanation was quite clever and whilst the reason for the murders may have been rather far-fetched, the underlying messages were quite moving. 

Altogether a read which kept up a good pace and enough interest before reaching a satisfactory conclusion.  I'd definitely look out for another.

Sharon Wood

The twist and turns make it a compelling read, cleverly steering the reader into a labyrinth of deceptions and lies. An intelligent and fast moving story. A cracking debut novel.

High up in a cave house in the Peak District lay a dead lawyer, with deep scratches on his face and smelling of almonds.  A philosophy book lay nearby.  DI Meg Dalton brushes the ferns clinging to the cave walls near the body and sees an image of the Grim Reaper, hooded, with a grinning skull seemingly standing over the dead man as if it had attacked him.  Underneath hewn into the rock was the dead man’s initials.  The carvings had been there for over a hundred years.

Newly transferred to Derbyshire, DI Meg Dalton needs to succeed and prove herself amidst a team of sceptical and cynical police officers – who are disbelieving in her claims of murder, not suicide. It doesn’t help that the locals consider the cave to be haunted and the dead man’s family house is cursed.  Delving deeply, Meg finds herself embroiled in a devout and godly group, a deadly GPS related treasure hunt, a euthanasia ring, a mentally ill homeless ex-Cambridge man and domestic violence.

The murderer is on to her and Meg strives to solve the case whilst closely avoiding death herself.

The twist and turns make it a compelling read, cleverly steering the reader into a labyrinth of deceptions and lies.  An intelligent and fast moving story interspersed with haunting interpersonal details, making it seem real and frightening. 

Helen Clark

An excellent debut novel. This was a real page turner which was difficult to put down. Roz Watkins is a talent to watch out for.

It is always exciting reading a debut novel - will this be a new author to add to my long list of best loved authors or will it be a one hit wonder?

It did not take very many pages to discover that this was definitely a new talent to watch. 

Meg Dalton is an intriguing character and little by little we are fed snippets revealing her past and what brings her to a new job in a new place.  She is thrown straight in to a puzzling murder case, whilst trying to work with a new team.  She is either extremely accident prone or very unlucky! She is fortunate to have a loyal and capable second in command who is prepared to follow her sometimes unorthodox methods. 

The storyline is compelling and has some very unexpected twists and turns.  The powers of superstition, age old rumours of witchcraft, together with rumours of a local curse are very much a part of the lives of some of the local villagers.  

It is a difficult task for the team to find a way forward and Meg discovers that her own mother may be involved in some way.  Suddenly things start to become clearer! 

Linda Haw

‘The Devil's Dice’ is no ordinary police procedural and certainly stands out from the crowd. It's a very twisty mystery, with plenty of cliff-hangers and a clever thought-provoking plot.

On starting The Devil's Dice, I thought the book was going to be a straightforward police procedural. But this is no ordinary case and certainly stands out from the crowd. It involves supernatural curses and the mysterious death of a lawyer, found in a Peak District cave. 

DI Meg Dalton is a strong feisty protagonist with lots of attitude. A risk-taker prone to injury and with plenty of flaws, she definitely doesn't play by the rules. And this often gets her into trouble with her superiors and colleagues. As Meg tries to solve the case, everything begins to feel a little too personal, bringing back memories of tragedy in her own family's past.

The Devil's Dice is a very twisty mystery with plenty of cliffhangers, particularly in the last 100 or so pages. I read the final chapters in one sitting, barely moving, and found myself holding my breath as everything was revealed through several action-packed scenes in a very chilling setting. 

Overall, I thought The Devil's Dice was a fun and easy read, with a clever thought-provoking plot. I'm looking forward to the next Meg Dalton book.

Victoria Goldman

A good debut novel kept recent with the use of geocaching! Likeable characters, good storyline but a bit like a rollercoaster ride, parts that were fast and thrilling, others slower and drawn out.

A good debut novel.  It was a good plot with likeable characters but a bit drawn out with a disappointing ending!  There were times in the book when the plot thickened and it became a real page turner but then lost momentum.  I like how the story was kept recent with the inclusion of geocaching and set in a very scenic part of Great Britain.  The ending was slightly disappointing.

Julie Evans

A gripping and involving debut, with a central character I would like to see more of.

This is the first in a very promising crime series. Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently arrived in the Derbyshire Peak District, following problems in her previous posting in Manchester and a career break. We gradually learn what these were and the reasons. Written with a great sense of humour in her internal monologues, she is a complex character, one I could easily relate to and, though her insecurities may have got a bit much for me at times, they were part of a realistic portrayal of her character. The supporting cast – her colleagues, in particular her sergeant Jai, and the families of the murder victims – are also well-rounded. The premise, a local curse associated with a cave system and one family’s house, is atmospheric and used to explore some deep issues in a series of satisfying revelations. These issues are sensitively explored – without giving spoilers – in a way that is informative and generally balanced, while being fully part of the story and enhancing rather than detracting from the tension. A gripping and involving debut, with a central character I would like to see more of – I’ll definitely look out for the next by Roz Watkins.

Alison Layland

Introducing DI Meg Dalton, who despite her seemingly crippling lack of confidence plunges in “where angels fear to tread” and often suffers for it ! Like a clever “whodunit” ? You’ll enjoy this!

This is the first book based on the character of Meg Dalton, a detective inspector with the Derbyshire police. Newly transferred to the Peak District due to personal circumstances she is at once thrown into the mystifying case of a patent lawyer found dead in a cave. Beside him is an image of the grim reaper next to his own initials, both scribed over a century earlier. Although I  liked the way the author plunged straight into the action and accompanying mystery and suspense, I cannot say I warmed to the character of Meg at all at first. However as we learned more about her and her relationship with both the other members of her police team, and her family,  I began to thaw. She exhibit’s a delightful sense of humour at times and despite her seemingly crippling lack of confidence plunges in “where angels fear to tread” and often suffers for it ! I didn’t take to any of the male policemen at all, even though  Roz has done an excellent job of introducing her characters  during the complicated plot of this first book and  I hope there will be others to come in which the various personalities develop. There are many  twists and turns in the plot and anyone who likes a clever “whodunit” will certainly enjoy this. 

Gillian Wilmott

The Devil’s Dice is so cleverly written by debut author, Roz Watkins. The clues are ingeniously hidden throughout the story. I can’t wait for the next DI Meg Dalton novel. I’m definitely hooked.

The novel starts with a man’s murder in a cave house in the Peak District shortly followed by the arrival of DI Meg Dalton. She’s started a new job and is eager not to mess up. The dead man lived in a cursed house whose previous inhabitants committed suicide. Everyone thinks the dead man also committed suicide as he’s been acting erratically recently but Meg has her doubts. I loved the wit and sarcasm of Meg who is fighting her own demons. The banter and work relationship between her and Jai made me laugh. 

This novel had me on my toes throughout. The clues, the evidences, the unsavoury suspects had me guessing continually. It was so hard to put down the Devil’s Dice. If this is Roz Watkin’s debut I can’t wait to see what delights await in the next one. Roz’s description of the setting puts you right in the middle of the story. I warmed to Meg straight away. Her flaws and persistence make her even more endearing. Meg’s backstory is dripped through the novel very cleverly and the hints at her troubled past make this story even more of a page-turner.

Reba Khatun

An excellent first book by Roz Watkins. The sharp quick grammar style wheels the reader along breathlessly through the story.

Meg Dalton the policewoman has a special background which aids the suspense in the story but lack of explanation does inhibit concentration.

Another well-known crime writer bases books in The Peak District and Roz Watkins could write a series every bit as good.

Less use of the formulaic man vs woman and higher management incompetence will help the refreshing style of the author improve stories further. More use of the humour in the dedication and author description will be another positive.

The storyline was built up well throughout and keeps interest until the end.

I am looking forward to reading more books by Roz Watkins.

Alan Brown

I loved this book. The pace of the story is great; it carries you along, revealing just the right amount of clues to keep your interest going throughout the book. I can’t wait to read the next one soon!

Set in the Peak District, this new crime drama follows the progress of DI Meg Dalton as she battles to solve a strange murder. The circumstances and the location of the body found in a cave are both mysterious and unnatural, and along with the atmospheric descriptions of the landscape of the Peak District, tensions are intensified. But DI Meg Dalton has her own ghosts to haunt her, and these are gradually revealed as the story progresses. Don’t imagine it’s all serious though, Meg has a lovely wry sense of humour, which is cleverly brought out in her day to day observations of life and the situations she finds herself in. It’s very easy to warm to her and feel a rapport with her character. This is Roz Watkins first book in a new crime detective series, and judging from the brilliant way it’s written, I’m sure that subsequent books in this series will be a success.

Lynne Morgan

This is a good new detective thriller with unusual twists. It is set in the Peak District giving it a different setting with its own problems, areas of bad communications and narrow twisting roads.

A dog finds a body in a cave in an abandoned quarry. Engraved on the wall behind him are his initials, only the engraving is very old.

DI Meg Dalton, newly attached to the local force, has a hunch that it is murder. Everyone else thinks it is suicide.

He is a patent lawyer. He and his partners all at University together. His wife a local doctor.

Does some of it date back to when they were at Cambridge?

Then more deaths occur, all connected. Does his house and the quarry carry a curse as some people try to infer? 

As she investigates there many strange and different strands all interwoven.

Meg, of course like all police detectives, has her own demons and a sense of being watched all the time.

Jocelyn Garvey

The Devils Dice is a great debut book from Roz Watkins. The story cleverly weaves in a murder mystery which is being investigated by DI Meg Dalton who also has a personal matter from her past that keeps cropping up and causing issues for her.

From the first chapter the scene is set and DI Dalton has to investigate a series of strangely linked suicides that lead to a mysterious curse and a possible murderer.

The book encourages you to read on and on and the killers identity isn't clear until the end.

Great debut and I look forward to reading the rest of the series when they are published. 

Ian Watkin

Roz Watkins Press Reviews

`A fabulous book. I can't wait to meet DI Meg Dalton again  B A Paris

`An outstanding debut. The Devil's Dice had me gripped from the start  Stephen Booth

`A fascinating debut with a deliciously old school mystery at its heart. I can't wait to see what Watkins does next!  Angela Clarke

`The Devil's Dice encapsulates the dark heart of the Peaks and enthrals the reader with its clever and compelling plot.  Sarah Ward

`Brilliant. I love Meg!  Lisa Hall

`Smart, atmospheric detective story with an unexpected topical twist  Adam Hamdy

`Really enjoyed The Devil's Dice - loved the supernatural feel and excellent resolution. What a copper!  Mick Finlay

`A humdinger of a debut - whip-smart and with a protagonist you're guaranteed to want to get behind  Mel McGrath

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780008438654
Publication date: 27/04/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008214647
Publication date: 24/01/2019
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008214616
Publication date: 08/03/2018
Format: Hardback

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About Roz Watkins

Roz originally studied engineering and natural sciences at Cambridge University, before becoming a patent attorney in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first novel. In her spare time, Roz clicker-trains her dog and horse, and likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations. I'm also a qualified hypnotherapist and an animal trainer, which gives me plenty of scope for planning creative murders. When I'm not writing, I help my partner run our holiday cottages near Wirksworth, ably assisted by a menagerie of demanding animals.  

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