The Good Dog, Simon Rowell
THE GOOD DOG is the third novel featuring DS Zoe Mayer and her service dog Harry. The background to why Mayer has Harry, and some of the back story about why a new partner is working with her is in both of the previous books, and touched on enough here to give new readers some hints as to what's gone on. Seriously though, this is a series that really deserves following. Mayer is a strong character, Harry is fantastic, and the stories in both previous novels (THE LONG GAME and WILD CARD), as well as this one, are strongly plotted and elegantly executed.
Here, Mayer and Harry are sent to the summit of Mount Macedon - an icon in the Victorian landscape - after a body was found at the foot of the well known cross that towers above it. This is after shots were heard in the night, but it's Harry that finds the dead man, Piers Johnson's, lawyer Antony Peterson, in the scrub, dying as he's found. Both men have been shot, but the discovery of the gun with Peterson doesn't ring true. There's a lot more about the scene that's setting off doubts in Mayer's mind though, and the pressure to solve the case only gets more intense, as Peterson's teenage daughter is kidnapped off the street near her home, and things start to get very odd indeed.
Since the commencement of this series I've been singing it's praises. The characters that Rowell has developed - Mayer, her partners, the work colleagues that switch around based on each case, are believable, with realistic flaws and minor superpowers. Of course, the presence of Harry is a fascinating aspect. His role as Mayer's service dog, helping her to deal with the trauma of past events, could be said to extend to the reader's reactions and feelings as well. It doesn't hurt that the author is a great lover of animals, adhere's strictly to the "no harm to any animal" line in the sand for many crime fiction readers, creating an entity in these novels that can be trusted, and in this case actually assists, with a couple of vital investigation / discovery elements.
Interestingly for something that's basically a police procedural novel by design, the balance between plot and character is pitch perfect, especially given Mayer's backstory is complicated, and the inclusion of Harry calls for reactions to him, and by him throughout the novel. In all of the series entries so far the scene switches around - from the beach in THE LONG GAME to the Murray River in WILD CARD, and now the iconic mountain in THE GOOD DOG. The scene setting is always strong, as is the story's connection to the place, and nearly always, the victim's past as well as their present.
If you're new to this series, read them all, you won't regret it. If you're champing at the bit for this latest instalment, it's due out today (30th January, 2024). As with all of them so far, this means the wait for the next outing has commenced.
After gunshots echo through the summer night on Mount Macedon, Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer and her loyal service dog Harry race to the summit at first light. What they find looks like a grisly an alleged fraudster named Piers Johnson, and his lawyer Antony Peterson, both dead from bullet wounds, a gun lying nearby.
Something about the scene doesn't stack up. There are plenty of suspects, but no one seems to be telling the truth. Zoe's instincts are ignited, as the pressure to find and charge the culprit becomes intense. And that's when Peterson's teenage daughter Sarah is snatched off the street. The Good Dog is Zoe's toughest assignment yet, a murderous conspiracy of greed, deceit and violence. She knows that Harry may be her only chance to crack the case.