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The Devil’s Dice (DI Meg Dalton, #1)
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Book Club Selection > Spoiler Discussion (Apr 2019) Group Read - The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

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David Gooch | 3958 comments Mod

This is a spoiler thread for April Group Read: The Devil’s Dice, by Roz Watkins

Post in here if you wish to comment on the book and discuss details that may spoil or give away important or pertinent details for those who haven't read or finished the book yet.

Christina (chrissieml) | 105 comments I was quite keen to read this book, being a Stephen Booth 'fan' and a Peak District child. Comparisons with the King of the Dark Peak are going to be inevitable, which is probably doing a grave disservice to Mz Watkins.

For the first few chapters, the first person narrative irritated me, but I eventually got over that. Then the Curse, and the 'flawed detective with Something Nasty in their past' came to the fore. I found myself begging please, not supernatural Derbyshire. Anything but that.
Thank goodness, the author steered us away from that with the principle theme of euthanasia and hereditary diseases, and anti-abortion etc religious fervour. Meg's grandmother echoed my own father with her plight of being bedridden, and her complaint that if she were a dog she'd have been put down by now. I confess a tear was shed at that point.
On we went, gathering evidence, and giving name-checks to real places in the Derbyshire Dales as we drove up and down the A6, with a side journey up Via Gellia and a visit to the Nine Ladies on Stanton Moor (not to be confused with Devon's Nine Maidens) to west of Matlock. All plus points for me.

Spoiler: the explanation of Huntington's Disease had me musing for a few minutes about the apparently drunk down-and-outs I used to see around London, and wondering if they were not drunk after all, but suffering from undiagnosed chorea.
The book wraps up with an explanation of the Something Nasty that happened to Meg, along with other side incidents along the way. This was a treat for me as these things are often left to spin out over several books in a series - possibly because the author hasn't worked out what the underlying case was yet. In this case it was strongly connected to the plot point of suicide vs murder.

In conclusion - a good detective story with special interest for Derbyshire-philes. The nature of the caves means they are limestone and therefore White Peak - or anywhere else in the UK actually. Mendips (Wookey Hole) and the Yorkshire Dales are other potential locations.

Main gripe- a metal chain has been fastened to a cave roof for 400 years (how?) and is not only still in situ (!) but also not corroded by the constant water filtering through the limestone and regular flooding after rain, so it is still strong enough to support a person? Sorry, that's the point where my 'suspension' of belief went twang! It still got my top marks of 3 stars.

(note to the curious - I very rarely give 4 or 5 stars to a book. To qualify for that, it has to be special enough for me to trouble myself to buy a quality hardback version that can live on my bookshelves for decades, available to return to as and when I please. Very few fall into that catagory nowadays. The best you can hope for is that I liked it, or that it was an okay read.)

David Gooch | 3958 comments Mod
I am afraid this disappointed me a little.
I was annoyed at the way some chapters just ended and never came back to them the worst being when they interviewed Felix with his solicitor, they have him worried and say they know he pushed the guy off the roof. The solicitor asks for a moment with Felix. It stops there middle chapter with an asterisk and jumps to the evening with Meg and they never go back to the interview....what happened then?
Then there is the premise that the culprit is killing to stop the disease which I would have gone with if it was assisted suicide but it wasn't in most cases I got the impression it was murder. I can't believe someone would go around murdering someone to stop a disease in a family they surely would have asked them what they wanted.
I could go on with things that bothered me in this book but I'd write an essay and it isn't worth it.
On the positive some of the characters were good and the writing style was ok as was the descriptions of the places. That got it three stars as it's a first novel and only because I was feeling kind, in my mind it is a two star book.
I won't be reading the second book based on this one.

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