It’s my turn on the BlogTour for The Devils Dice by Roz Watkins. The author combines her deathly scenarios with a controversial topic to create debate and a compelling read.
About the Author
Roz Watkins is the author of the DI Meg Dalton crime series, which is set in the Peak District where she lives with her partner and a menagerie of demanding animals. Her first book, THE DEVIL’S DICE, will be published by HQ (HarperCollins) in March 2018. It was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger Award, and has been optioned by ITV Studios.
Roz originally studied engineering and natural sciences at Cambridge, before studying patent law. She was a partner in a firm of patent attorneys in Derby, but this has absolutely nothing to do with there being a dead one in her first book. In her spare time, Roz clicker-trains her dog and horse, and likes to walk in the Peak District, scouting out murder locations.
Follow @RozWatkins @HQStories @HarperCollinsUK
Buy The Devil’s Dice
About the book
Detective Inspector Meg Dalton has recently returned to her Peak District roots, when a man’s body is found near The Devil’s Dice – a vast network of caves and well-known local suicide spot. The man’s initials and a figure of the Grim Reaper are carved into the cave wall behind his corpse, but bizarrely, the carvings have existed for over one hundred years.
The locals talk about a mysterious family curse that started in the times of the witch trials, and Meg finds it increasingly hard to know who to trust. Even her own mother may be implicated.
For Meg, the case is a chance to prove herself in a police force dominated by men, one of whom knows a lot more about her past than she’d like, and is convinced she’s not fit for the role. In a race against time, Meg finds her own life at risk as she fights to stop the murderer from killing again.
Guest Post by Roz Watkins
My inspiration behind DI Meg Dalton
People talk about strong female characters, but I just wanted my main character, Meg, to be like my female friends – principled and tough when challenged, but likely to choose a nice cuppa and a digestive biscuit over a fight with a deranged killer if given the choice. Of course, Meg isn’t always given the choice.
I knew that as a woman in a male-dominated profession, Meg would need to be pretty tough, but on the inside she’s suffering from imposter syndrome, like a lot of women. Although she sometimes lacks confidence, I tried to inject her with a wry sense of humour that will hopefully appeal to both sexes. The friends I’ve made in the Derbyshire police force often deal with grim and horrific scenes, and when you have to shake maggots out of your turn-ups on a regular basis, I guess you either see the funny side or fall apart.
Meg is a bit of a crusader at heart, and is often forced by the plot to champion causes that are close to me. My partner once described her as a younger, more kick-ass version of me with DM boots and a badge. I’m not sure if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult! She’s actually not naturally very kick-ass – and she’s a bit fat and has a limp – but she has a habit of getting into situations where she has no choice. (Her writer is a sadist.)
I was encouraged not to give Meg dependents, because readers get horribly stressed wondering who is looking after the dog or the children when the hero’s off slaying villains. But Meg loves animals so I gave her a relatively independent, overweight cat called Hamlet, who can now never die. Other authors have warned me never to kill a cat, and I don’t think I could bear to do it anyway, although I have no trouble killing off people. (Most of my victims to far seem to be middle-aged men. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I get a bit fed up of all the beautiful, dead young women that crop up in some crime fiction.)
One of my big annoyances with some TV police dramas is the necessity for their female characters to chase villains around in the latest pair of 3 inch Jimmy Choos, so I knew I didn’t want to make Meg into some super-glamorous detective. Hopefully she is a more realistic interpretation of a female police officer. I did want her to be bright, and was delighted when one reviewer described her as a “Geek Warrior Queen”. I couldn’t have wished for a better description.
I was amused by the juxtaposition of a crime committed in a cave in the middle of the Peak District in a solitary environment, and the weapon of choice being death by cake. Oh the sweet irony. If you’re going to die then cake is the way to go.
Watkins tackles a controversial issue in The Devil’s Dice, and when I say controversial it’s because it is generating a lot of discussion, even though it should probably go without saying. In the UK there is a campaign called Dignity in Dying, and they and their supporters, have been advocating for a change in the law.
People and/or patients who are terminally ill or suffering from an incurable degenerative disease should be allowed to choose to end their pain and suffering with the help of medical institutions and doctors. Euthanasia, assisted suicide or physician assisted suicide. Instead they are forced to go overseas to countries where it has been made legal, and die alone in strange surroundings without the comfort of home or family members.
On top of the costs of a foreign assisted suicide any person travelling with the patient has to adhere to certain rules and regulations, so they are not charged with assisted manslaughter when they return to their home country. It is tragic, especially when you take into consideration how many countries have already worked assisted dying into their legal system.
DI Meg Dalton is forced to consider this very question in her own family. Her mother is caring for her grandmother, and both of them struggle with the care and the fact her grandmother would rather die than be kept in a state of constant misery and pain.
Watkins explores both sides of this contentious issue, which includes the religious argument of it being against God’s will. Suicide is a sin. It weakens society’s view on the sanctity of life, aids the slippery slope towards involuntary euthanasia and getting rid of undesirables or the fact it might not be in the patient’s best interests. Valid points of view, but none of them take the lucid arguments of people into consideration, who are quite capable of making decisions for themselves.
Watkins presents a main character who is vulnerable, actually pretty darn accident prone and always in the middle of some kind of violent altercation. She is driven by anxiety and fears, and has to deal with sexism and harassment at work on a daily basis. Overall more of an anti-heroine, which makes her more meaty.
It will be interesting to see where the author takes Meg, given a little more direction. Eventually those anxieties and her past will have to be dealt with. The lone wolf with flaws combined with unusual scenarios and deaths, what’s not to like?
Buy The Devil’s Dice at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.