Regular readers will recall me mentioning the gatherings for authors and book bloggers that take place in Stoke. Organised by Kerry Parsons and Steph Lawrence (click their names to check out their blog sites), they’ve provided a great opportunity to meet up informally and chat about all things book related. Obviously, those events are on hold for the time being, but hopefully we’re getting closer to the time when they can restart.
With any gathering of this kind, one of the great advantages is the opportunity to meet new people. Last time I went, as my partner and I arrived at the hotel reception, a first timer was there and wondering where to go. I knew that feeling. We chatted with her as we made our way through to where everyone was meeting and it transpired my partner and the newcomer knew each other – though only online. This new acquaintance was Roz Watkins. It was a name I was vaguely aware of, probably through reading blogger book reviews. Although I chatted with Roz a little, I didn’t get to spend as long with her as I’d have liked. Still, I’d thought, perhaps we can talk more at the next event…
There’s always a degree of curiosity when you’ve met an author you haven’t read before so, back home, we bought her first book. Personally, I prefer to read on Kindle, but my partner would rather stick pins in her eyes – or spend an evening with a teenager (choose your own form of torture) – so a paperback it was. I know I should have just downloaded my own but I’ve got Scottish blood in me and I live very close to Yorkshire… Anyway, the lack of a digital version meant it took a while for me to finally get round to reading The Devil’s Dice, the first in the Meg Dalton series.
It’s worth commenting here that this novel was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger. And I make that point because I could completely understand why. When I did eventually pick the book up, I wasn’t feeling overly enthused about reading (sacrilege, I know, but I go through those phases). The prologue piqued my interest, though. It was short, yet threw in lots of teasers for what lay ahead. And then we were into the first chapter and, within a few pages, I was already aware of the bait being dropped, stuff that raised questions – about the plot and the characters – all of which just compelled you to read on. There were clues there – about why the victim had died, but also about Meg herself – all triggering the imagination to come up with ideas about what they all meant and where they’d lead us. Did I get any of them right? I don’t think so. I might have headed in the right general direction with some, but I didn’t nail anything exactly.
As ever, I won’t say anything about the plot here – I don’t want to run the risk of spoilers. What I will say is The Devil’s Dice is a very accomplished crime novel, written with the confidence of a seasoned author. And Meg Dalton is a character I want to read more about, so I’m looking forward to reading the next in the series, and I suspect I’ll need to overcome my miserly leanings and download my own copy.
If you’ve missed this treat of a book and want a copy yourself, I’d strongly recommend getting down to your local independent bookshop. These are becoming fewer all the time, so they need our support. If there isn’t one handy or, like me, you are a complete Kindle convert, click on either of the following links:
If you’re curious as to why I’m suggesting Hive for the paperback, you can read my post on the subject here.