Today it is my great pleasure to be celebrating our Year of Orenda by sharing my thoughts on the latest Sam Shephard book from Vanda Symon, Containment. I am loving this New Zealand set crime series and loving the protagonist too. My thanks to publisher Orenda Books for providing an advance copy of the book, and to Anne Cater or Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s the important bits you all need to know:
About the Book
Dunedin’s favourite young police officer Sam Shephard is drawn into a perplexing investigation when a series of shipping containers wash up on a sleepy New Zealand beach, and a spate of unexplained deaths ensues…Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.
Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.
What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…
As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…
You know that feeling when you find a book that just pulls you in? That one more chapter kind of vibe that takes root and just won’t stop growing? The one more more chapter that suddenly becomes another five or six … or the whole book. Whatever. That was me and this book. I lost a nights sleep reading this book as whenever I thought I was going to put it down, I couldn’t, and didn’t.
It’s not that this is a fast paced, high action kind of read. It’s not. There is a sort of shoot out situation at the end, that will leave readers shocked no doubt, but it’s not that kind of a book. What it is, is a book that is equal parts mystery and mayhem. Both funny and a little bit stomach churning. Quite un PC as it turns out, but not in a overly offensive way (although the sensitive amongst you may want to check those sensibilities at the door before reading.)
The book opens in relatively dramatic style. A container ship carrying a whole host of items belonging to businesses and individuals alike, takes a wrong turn and winds up getting beached, losing much of its cargo in the process. This leads to an almost riotous amount of looting, which in turn sees our hero of the hour, Sam Shephard, getting herself into a whole heap of strife. The chapters are both funny and serious at the same time, a few surprises along the way keeping all of law and order’s finest on their toes.
The beached ship and the new rehomed bounty is only part of the problem though and it isn’t long before Sam finds herself tasked with a whole new assignment – attending the recovery of a body. From the sea. As you can imagine, this is not the most pleasurable of tasks and there are moments here that both made me grimace and chuckle as I could see them playing out. As Officer in charge of the body, Sam is set to play an integral part of this investigation, and it is finding our the whos, whys, hows and wherefores that really sees the centre of this investigation take hold.
I love the characters that Vanda Symon has created, especially Sam. She is quick witted, practical, down to earth and very, very funny. She’s kind of at sea (no pun intended) in her job, find ing her in a position that many officers coveted but which was a fast track opportunity for her. This means she lacks the support internally that other officers may be afforded, especially from her boss. I love the colourful use of language that the author employs to describe the relationship between DI Johns and his team, often finding myself sniggering and laughing aloud at the references I could very much relate to.
Once again we are treated to the brilliant friendship between Sam and her flatmate Maggie. They bounce of each other really well, Maggie pulling Sam up and calling her out when she is being an idiot. From a work perspective she has Smithy for that, but he is a little distracted this time around with his own set of personal issues to deal with. Sam’s not immune to persona problems either, and the way in which the author contrasts the highs with the lows for Sam is pitch perfect. Her confusion – fear almost in some cases – feels authentic and very relatable, cementing her as one of my favourite characters.
I love the way that the author uses language to capture the setting of Dunedin and it’s surrounds. I could picture the place very clearly as I read, from the city scapes, the squalid student digs and out to the opulent homes of Aramoana. It all made me feel like I was there. Now I’ve never been to New Zealand, may never make it out there, but a part of me was transported through the words. The sense of place was prominent, as well attitude of the characters who inhabit Sam’s world.
I read this book so quickly and I have no regrets. It’s a great story and a great addition to the series. The more I get to know Sam, the more I like her and all I have left to say is more please!!!
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.
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Books in the Sam Shephard series: