It is my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour today for Overkill by Vanda Symon. Today marks the books paperback birthday so happy publication day to you. I think this has to be one of the first books I have read from a New Zealand author but it most definitely won’t be the last. A big thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join in and to publisher Orenda Books for providing an advance copy for review. Here is what the book is all about.
About the Book
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 aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.
There are some books that you know are going to be so, so easy to read. The ones that from the very first page just draw you in and hold your attention so that before you know it you are flying through the book and eating up the story like candy. Overkill by Vanda Symon is one such book and before I even know what hit me I was half way through. There is something so fluid, so natural, about the style of writing that it was like having a conversation with a friend and I was invested from the off, wanting to know what had happened, why and how the heck our heroine, Sam Shephard was going to prove it.
The story itself is set in small town New Zealand and so inevitably everyone know everyone else and the lone Police Officer in town, Sam Shephard, has history with the husband of missing wife and mother, Gaby. History of the intimate kind and history which she doesn’t initially declare to her bosses, something that will come back and haunt her after the young woman’s body is discovered washed up on the banks of the river. Soon labelled as a prime suspect, Sam finds herself on the wrong side of the law and forced to take matters into her own hands. What follows is a twisted case of lies and cover ups which could cost Sam not only her job, but her life.
I really liked the character of Sam Shephard. She was down to earth, in true New Zealand style, but also intrinsically human. Caught between the need to do right by her job, she also harbours deep feelings about Gaby’s husband, Lockie, and deep resentments towards Gaby which are played out throughout the book. You know she will never cross the line in terms of her actions, but you also know that a part of her would be satisfied if she could find just that small nugget of evidence proving that Gaby was less than perfect. She’s a woman in a tough situation but more than a match for anything thrown her way. The story is told in first person from Sam’s perspective and the narrative style is what really helps drive the action onward. Because Sam is so likeable you want to see her do well and you feel the impact of her occasional vulnerabilities as surely as Sam herself would.
It’s hard to say much about the story without giving things away. The prologue is tense, hard to read at times and will have your heart in your mouth, and it did leave me wondering where the story would lead from here. I certainly didn’t expect the journey I was taken on and yet it is entirely fitting for the setting. There are moments of great tension as well as the slower times of calm and tranquility you might expect from the country life. The author has captured the essence of the setting perfectly, and I really felt as though I was travelling across the country with Sam, feeling every rut in the road and seeing every inch of tree lined river bed. She has also created some memorable characters to add texture, and tension, to Sam’s world. Certainly the ending leaves a whole host of possibilities for how this series will continue and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
If you would like to grab a copy of Overkill for yourself then it is available from the following retailers:
About the Author
Vanda Symon is the best-selling author of four Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction novels, published in New Zealand, including Overkill (Penguin, 2007), The Ringmaster (Penguin, 2008), Containment (Penguin, 2009), Bound (Penguin, 2011), and the stand-alone psychological thriller, The Faceless (Penguin, 2012). She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel. Her books have also been published in Germany.
Author Kate Mosse has said: ‘Vanda Symon’s fast paced crime novels are as good as anything the US has to offer – a sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip roaring stories with a twist. Perfect curl-up on the sofa reading.’ Crimewatch has described Vanda as ‘part of a new wave of Kiwi crime writers… Symon’s talent for creating well-rounded characters permeates throughout’.
Vanda is the producer and host of Write On, a monthly radio show on matters literary on Otago Access Radio, and she also reviews books for National Radio. She is very involved in the New Zealand writing community, having been chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and is currently the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand. Vanda also has participated in celebrity debates, acted as speaker, reader or chair in literary events and festivals in New Zealand and Australia, and toured with The New Zealand Book Council’s Words on Wheels.
Vanda has a professional background as a pharmacist and has recently completed a PhD in science communication, examining the communication of science through crime fiction.
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