The long game by Simon Rowell

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If you are after an easy-to-read and compelling mystery, then The long game may just be the book for you. Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer has returned from leave only to be thrust into a murder case. A local man, Ray Carlson, has been found dead, a kitchen knife in his chest. With her partner Charlie Shaw, she chases up all the obvious clues and makes an arrest, but her intuition and desire for the truth makes her delve deeper into the case and possible connections.

Rowell has cleverly twined two mysteries together and both kept me reading to the end. Not only is there the mystery of who killed Ray Carlson, but the information about the trauma that sent Zoe off on leave left the reader wondering what happened, and why she returned with a service dog, Harry, to help her get through the day.

Zoe is a determined and very organised detective, who is not prepared to take the easy way out and convict the most obvious suspect. She wants answers to questions and her quest for the truth makes for compelling reading as she follows up on her suspicions, even though she is not supported by other detectives in her unit. There are lots of twists and turns and some surprises as she hunts down the killer, going into danger with no back-up.

It was fascinating to read about the role of a service dog in helping a person overcome anxiety and Harry features as a main character, obedient, intelligent, and heroic. He also provides some clues as to the veracity of some of the emotions of witnesses and dog lovers are sure to appreciate this aspect of the novel.

Lovers of Australian mysteries like Kill shot by Garry Disher and Scrublands by Chris Hammer will appreciate the setting of the Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne, and hope that Zoe and her service dog Harry, appear in another novel.

Themes: Mystery, Service dogs, Murder.

Pat Pledger