Expectant by Vanda Symon

Today Mandie taking a look at the latest book in the Sam Shephard series from Vanda Symon, Expectant. I read and reviewed the book earlier this year for the tour and you can read my thoughts here. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source: Owned 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…

Mandie’s Thoughts

I have really been looking forward to getting reacquainted with Sam Shephard just to see what case she finds herself in the middle of this time and if she can manage not to get on the wrong side of her bosses for once. 

The book opens with a young boy out with his friends who comes across a woman who has been fatally attacked. What is initially less evident is that at the time of the attack she was pregnant but there is no sign of the baby. Sam is initially the officer who questions the boy but as she is heavily pregnant herself her bosses are keen to keep her as far away from the case and the murdered woman’s family as they possibly canby assigning her to desk duties and background checking. Sam being Sam is not happy about this and does everything she can to stay on the case and under the radar whilst doing it.

I think that Sam struggled with this case more than any other as it made her more aware of what she was about to embark on and made her question if she was even ready to be a mother and how she would ever keep her baby safe. That being said her sense of humour/fun and sarcasm were still there in full force and her interactions with her mother gave some of the lighter times in the book. We get to see more of Sam the person rather than Sam the detective and its nice to see her flaws and understand what is behind some of them, and what’s not to love about someone who gets asked if she was shouty Sam or sweary shouty Sam (makes her someone I can relate to)

Well Vanda Symon certainly takes you on quite the rollercoaster with the latest instalment of the series. The subject matter at the heart of the book may seem a little dark and at times unpalatable but it is handled with care so that by the end of it you even feel a little sorry for the lengths that the killer went to and the reasons why. It doesn’t excuse what they did but I could imagine myself in their shoes and the desperation they felt. Once again I was transported to Dunedin and reminded of my love of Toffee Pops (the New Zealand version are way better than the British version in my opinion) and I cant wait to see what happens for Sam and her career now that her priorities may have to shift somewhat

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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