A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a book I was reading which I had picked up while on holiday in Derbyshire. I like to buy novels set in areas I’m visiting; although the plots may be varied, exciting, intriguing, mysterious – and the characters engaging and believable, it’s when the landscape and the setting becomes a character in itself and part of the plot that I really, really enjoy a book. I feel as if I learn something about the place, like a tourist reading a guidebook, and I learn something about the skill in writing location which I feel I’m not very good at.
The book I mentioned, which I was halfway through reading was ‘The Devil’s Dice’ by Roz Watkins. This is what I wrote:
The main character is Meg Dalton, a very believable Detective Inspector who is tasked with solving a truly perplexing and very odd mystery. I’m really enjoying the book, there’s a humorous tone which doesn’t detract from the drama, believable characters, and various narrative threads which weave together. I am running the risk of reading it too quickly because it’s so gripping, but I’ve discovered there are two more books in the series, so I know what I’m going to be reading next!
This is what the blurb says:
– 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…
As I mentioned, I feared I would read it too quickly because it was so good – well, I did, staying up far too late, then sitting up in bed half the following morning because I was completely gripped. I also mentioned there were two other books in the Meg Dalton series, ‘Dead Man’s Daughter’ and ‘Cut to the Bone’ – and yes I have read both of them too.
The characters in the books, not just the police officers investigating the crimes alongside Meg, are well drawn, realistic and vivid. However, in each of the books there is a larger cast, equally well written, of victims, their contacts and connections, witnesses and Meg’s own family, friends and cat who are often drawn into the plot. They are so realistic, so believable, so ordinary and yet so interesting that when things happen to them it ramps up the tension and makes it impossible to stop reading, even though matchsticks are required to keep your eyes open!
However, it is the way Roz uses Derbyshire and the way she describes the locations and settings which are crucial to the drama as well as being interesting in themselves, that I really admire. I must make more effort!! I must be more aware of my mental images of the locations my characters wander through – they are vivid to me, I must make them more vivid to my readers!
Here is a link to Roz’s page: https://www.rozwatkins.co.uk/