Simon Rowell introduced detective Zoe Meyer and her service/therapy dog Harry in 2021’s The Long Game. That book saw Zoe returning to work after a traumatic event that also made her slightly famous. But the focus of the book was not that event but rather, Melbourne based detective Zoe and her team investigating a murder on the Mornington Peninsula. It felt like the introduction to what could be a long running series if, following this introduction Rowell could give Zoe something meatier to investigate.
Wild Card sees Zoe (and Harry) back in action, once again in regional Victoria, with her team investigating the death of Freddie, a local bikie at Echuca on the banks of the Murray River. The complicating factor is that Freddie lived in Moama, on the other side of the river, which is the border with New South Wales so Zoe has to work with a fairly unco-operative police force and a senior policeman who has historical ties to the victim. But soon another body is discovered and Zoe and her team find themselves uncovering more secrets in the middle of a gang war.
The Long Game felt like an episode of a police procedural TV drama and Wild Card continues in this vein. Zoe’s trauma, which was almost her defining feature in the first book, is fading into the background but still occasionally trips her up and gets her recognised. Zoe’s team are competent but not particularly memorable. Harry the dog continues to essentially provide colour and movement but adds little or nothing to the story except possibly as a way to draw in dog lovers. And the solution to mystery itself, involving playing cards, corruption and small town connections, is fairly easy to spot.