THE LONG GAME by Simon Rowell (Text, August 2021)
The steady stream of good quality Australian releases in 2021 continues with Simon Rowell’s very enjoyable The Long Game.
I missed Rowell’s Ned Kelly Award nominated first novel, The Echo of Others, but his second book is terrific!
The story opens with Detective Sergeant Zoe Meyer of the Victorian police returning to duty following an unexplained incident. On her first day back, accompanied by a service dog, she is assigned a murder case involving the stabbing of a local surfer in a house not far from Portsea beach. A obvious suspect is quickly identified and arrested, but Zoe is not convinced, and as she digs further into the case she senses that something is terribly amiss. Isolated by her colleagues, Zoe finds herself under threat and in danger.
The Long Game is a highly polished piece of crime fiction. Rowell has a naturally engaging narrative style and the story flows smoothly from beginning to end. Although there is not a lot of action at the start, Rowell maintains a tight grip on the reader’s attention with some clever plotting and an interesting storyline. Once underway, the plot unfolds at a steady pace and the ending brings some good shocks and genuine tension. There are a couple of coincidences, but these do not detract from what is a very finely constructed book.
Zoe is a credible, interesting character with a good backstory, that is eventually revealed, and her personal life does not overly intrude into the dynamics of the investigation. In fact, all the characters are carefully crafted and nicely fleshed out. The story is also enhanced by Rowell’s real gift for believable, unadorned dialogue, and the banter between the members of the investigation team rings true, as does the interactions between the police and the various witnesses and suspects. Overall, the police work is convincingly conveyed and adds interest to the story.
The Long Game is a very entertaining crime novel that is elevated above much of the competition by its easy flowing style, nicely limned characters, vivid descriptions of Melbourne’s beachside suburbs and strong sense of credibility. I really enjoyed it.
Four to four and a half stars out of five!
The Long Game was released by Text Publishing in Australia on 3 August 2021 and is available in the United Kingdom on Kindle. Thanks to the publishers and the Canberra Weekly for an advanced copy of the book.