Expectant by Vanda Symon

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Exectant by Vanda Symon and to wish the author a very happy publication day. I love the Sam Shephard series and this is an absolute cracker. My thanks to Orenda books for the advance copy for review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invite. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 16 February 2023
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

A pregnant Sam Shephard investigates the murder of an expectant mother in Dunedin, as it becomes clear that the killer is ready to strike again … Queen of New Zealand Crime, Vanda Symon, returns with a shocking, twisty new Sam Shephard thriller…

The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

My Thoughts

Wowsers. This books starts in the most dramatic way. The discovery of a dying women would be traumatic enough, but to discover that the victim was pregnant when she was attacked adds a whole new layer of urgency and jeopardy to an already emotive case. The opening scene may not be over gratuitous, although it is certainly graphic enough, and it really packs a punch, setting readers up for what will be a race against time to catch a murderer before they strike again. It’s doubly poignant for Detective Sam Shephard as she is only weeks away from having her own child, which only increases her determination to see justice for the murdered woman and her family.

I love this series. Sam Shephard is such a wonderful character, full of determination and bravado, down to earth and as witty and sarcastic as you could ask for. She has an acute sense of right and wrong and is completely set on seeking justice for those who can no longer obtain it for themselves. Her relationships with family echo that of so many of us and the familiarity breeds and extra kind of kinship with her as a character. With her personal life about to go through some major changes – her best friend and roommate moving out and the impending arrival of Baby Shephard, you’d think she might start to relax and take a back seat, but fear not. That’s just not in her make up and she is as delightfully embroiled in this case, much to her superiors annoyance, as she would ever be.

There is an emotional core to this book, touching as it does on the subject of murder, infant trafficking, and abduction. As she investigates Sam looks back to some of New Zealand’s previous infant related crimes, highlighting the various motives that may be behind the murder. It is one of those cases that when the final reveal comes it is hard not to feel a modicum of sympathy towards the perpetrator, even if their actions can never be condoned. It’s definitely a story that will give you pause for thought, especially if a parent, and the turmoil and pain that is evident in the victims family is perfectly captured on the page, enhancing my need to read on if only to see justice done. The case is not black and white though and those shadows, the wisps of grey that unfurl and envelop the ending, make for a perfect conclusion to the story. It’s dramatic, pulse-pounding and full of tension – just the way we like it.

If you’ve never read any of this series before then you have missed a treat. Vanda Symon encapsulates that wonderful Kiwi humour of hers in stories which are emotional, tense, dramatic and just bloody good fun to read. Start at the beginning to see the full progression of Sam as a Police Officer and as a character, and to better understand the entanglements and traumas that the major characters have endured along the way. That and because it’s too good a series to miss out on any of it. This does stand well as a standalone case, full resolved within the pages, so if you just want a taster of what the series is about, you can drop in right here. One thing is certain, it’s most definitely recommended by me.

About the Author

Vanda Symon lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. As well as being a crime writer, she has a PhD in science communication and is a researcher at the Centre for Pacific Health at the University of Otago. Overkill was shortlisted for the 2019 CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award and she is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel for her critically acclaimed Sam Shephard series. Vanda produces and hosts ‘Write On’, a monthly radio show focusing on the world of books at Otago Access Radio. When she isn’t working or writing, Vanda can be found in the garden, or on the business end of a fencing foil.

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