My turn on the Overkill blog tour today. This fabulous book has made it’s way over from New Zealand. Thanks to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books and Anne Cater for inviting me to take part. My blog buddy today is Mart over at beardybookblogger.wordpress.com so feel free to check out his post. Before I give you my review, here’s the blurb.
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.
Well, I always think a sign of a good book is how difficult it is to put down. I read most of this book while at the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival, in the middle of the night. Right from the opening paragraph, I was gripped –
The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die there were no harbingers, omens or owls’ calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited Death in.
The tension continues through the Prologue and doesn’t let up until the end of the novel. Sam Shepherd is the lone police officer for Mataura, a small town in New Zealand. Like other small towns, it’s affected by financial difficulties, loss of employment and secrets that crisscross their way across town like telephone wires. Sam Shepherd needs to tap into some of those wires to find out the truth.
Of course, the investigation doesn’t run smoothly (there’d be no drama if it did) and Sam is bumped off the case and suspended when it’s revealed that the victim was the wife of Sam’s former lover. So she has to put herself in danger as she hunts down the vicious killer.
I’m amazed that this is a debut novel. It’s incredibly well written, creating atmosphere and tension in equal measure. Sam Shepherd is a fabulous character, always determined to do the opposite of what she’s told, whether it’s her parents, or her boss, or her friend Maggie. I loved the slice of New Zealand life that Vanda Symon serves us, right down to the Toffee Pops biscuits (I want some of these!).
When I get gripped by a book, it’s sometimes hard to pin down what that special ingredient is, what it is that keeps me reading. In this case, I think it’s the chilling prologue. It had such an impact on me that I had to know who was responsible for Gaby’s murder. The best news about this book is that it’s the start of a series. There are more Sam Shepherd novels to come and I, for one, can’t wait.
You can buy Overkill here.
Vanda Symon (born 1969) 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 hit 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.