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.
I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the Overkill blog tour. Overkill by Vanda Symon was published by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is the first in a new crime series featuring PC Sam Shephard.
I have travelled the world thanks to my literary choices over the years; it’s something I love to do. Reading about a place far from home is always interesting and exciting – a different way of living, different cultures. Until recently I had not managed to make my bookish way to New Zealand. Australia, yes. New Zealand, no. However, thanks to Overkill I can now add a New Zealand stamp to my literary passport as this delightful piece of crime fiction is set in Mataura.
I am a huge fan of books set in small, close-knit towns. The claustrophobia, the suspicion, the uncomfortable feeling you get as the characters start to realise that you can’t trust anyone. The small town feeling Vanda Symon conveys in Overkill is wonderful. The residents of Mataura have all been mucking along quite nicely together for years. Then the body of a young mother is discovered in the river; the suicide note left behind confirms she couldn’t face life any more. But PC Sam Shephard’s gut is telling her differently, something is wrong. Before long Sam is investigating a murder. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s the main suspect in her detective colleague’s eyes. Can Sam solve the murder and clear her name…?
I loved Sam. She’s so wonderfully human, so normal. She has a chequered history with the victim’s husband which hangs precariously over her head throughout the entire investigation. Her conflicted emotions and her self-deprecating manner made her all the more likeable. I was also very fond of her flatmate and best friend, Maggie who stands by Sam when others don’t. The writing and the narrative had a wonderful Kiwi flavour to it; it felt very real and I was pleased to see Sam wasn’t dressed up to be something she wasn’t. She’s tough, resilient and doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty. She certainly needs to be tough as the only police officer stationed in Mataura!
Would I recommend this book? I would. Sam is a very likeable character who will appeal to many readers and Symon’s honest, no-nonsense writing brings her gloriously to life. If you’re looking for thrills and spills a minute then maybe Overkill isn’t the book for you. But if you’re wanting a cleverly woven mystery with characters who shine through then it’s well worth a read. Claustrophobic, delightfully mysterious and a with a fierce female lead you can’t help but like. I can’t wait to read the next book in the Sam Shephard series!
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an eARC of Overkill. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.
Overkill by Vanda Symon was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 6th September 2018 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats (please note, some of the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | BookDepository | Goodreads |
Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.
A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.
As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.
And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.
Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.
When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.
Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.
Biography © http://vandasymon.com/