Author: Vanda Symon
Publisher: Orenda Books
Publication Date: 6th September 2018 (eBook 30th June)
This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About the book:
Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.
When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.
What I Thought:
Overkill was originally published in New Zealand back in 2007, but Orenda are now publishing the UK edition.
Overkill is set in the rural town of Mataura where Sam Shepard is the sole police officer in residence. Used to dealing with the odd drunken brawl and the occasional cattle rustling incident things become a little more serious when a missing person is found dead, and is further complicated by the fact the dead woman is the wife of Sam’s ex.
For me Overkill was a quick, but enjoyable read. I found the story to be well paced and interesting – I would say 90% of the crime fiction I read is set in major UK cities so the rural New Zealand setting was a nice change and appealed to the part of me that grew up in semi-rural Devon!
I found Sam to be a really interesting character – I loved her determination to do what she wanted and not just settle for the life her parents expected her to have. She’s also got a really feisty personality, and won’t take things lying down; occasionally this gets her into trouble especially where senior officers are involved! I’m really hoping to discover more about her in future books!
I also really hope future books still feature Maggie, she sounds like the sort of friend everybody needs, sympathetic when needed but there to pull you out of the self pity when needed – often with coffee and toffee pops (I have never experienced a Toffee Pop but they sound incredible and definitely something the UK should be importing!)
The only tiny thing I would change would be to have a little more of the aftermath. Without giving away any of the plot the epilogue, understandably, focuses on Sam. I would have loved to know a bit more about how the wider town were dealing with the aftermath, after all it’s a small place so it would have been interesting to know how the community were dealing with the fallout.
Would I Recommend?
I would! It’s a different style and pace to a lot of the crime novels I read which reflects the rural setting of Mataura but I enjoyed this introduction to Sam, I’m hoping Orenda will continue to publish UK editions of the Sam Shephard series!
About The Author
Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.
A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.
As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.
And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.
Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.
When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.
Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.
Connect With Vanda
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As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?