A Year of Orenda – Overkill by Vanda Symon

Today Mandie takes over once again to share her #YearofOrenda thoughts on Overkill, book one in the Sam Shephard series by Vanda Symon. I read the book way back in 2018 and you can read my thoughts on it right here. Before we hear Mandie’s thoughts, here is the all important book data:

Source: Amazon

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.

Available from: Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books

Mandie’s Thoughts

Overkill is the first book in the Sam Shephard series by New Zealand Author Vanda Symon. Sam is the sole charge police officer in Mataura, a small town where everybody knows everybody. Normally there is nothing too serious for her to investigate but this all changes when the body of the wife of her former boyfriend turns up in the Mataura river and Sam finds herself a suspect in her murder.

A no-nonsense kind of character, who is aware of her flaws and shortcomings (no pun intended), you can’t help but like her. You sense the struggle she has between her feelings for her ex Lochie and how quickly after their split he got together with his wife Gabby and conducting a professional investigation into what happened. She is only human and would dearly love to find out that Gabby was not as perfect as she seemed. As Sam digs deeper into her life however, she realises that in her jealousy she may have misjudged her.

Sam is certainly driven by her sense of what is right and doing a good job. Even when both her career and her life are on the line, she takes nothing lying down and her feisty attitude quite often puts her in the firing line with the higher-ranking officers (some of her altercations had me chuckling if I am honest) but ultimately it is also what helps her.

As much as the book is about Sam and is told from her point of view, I found that I loved the character of her best friend, flatmate and sounding board Maggie. She has an answer for every situation and thinks nothing of pulling Sam up on her attitude if she thinks it is warranted. Their banter and friendship really help ground the book and make it just that little bit more than a police procedural.

By the end of the book I had really come to love Vanda’s writing style as she captures the New Zealand way of life on the page. The book may not be fast paced but it engages the reader right from the start so that you find yourself wanting to turn just one more page to see how the investigations will progress. There is a really good mix of humour, engaging characters and tension and this is why I raced through the book in a couple of days leaving me both happy in the knowledge that the second in the series was already on my kindle for me to start and a real craving for Toffeepops.

About the Author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Books in The Sam Shephard Series

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