Overkill by Vanda Symon (Sam Shephard Book 1) | Book Review ( @vandasymon @OrendaBooks ) #Overkill #NewZealandNoir

Published by Orenda Books

Available in Ebook and Paperback (6 September 2018)

272 pages

Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Welcome to the blog tour for Overkill which I am sharing today with the lovely Lainy from So Many Books So Little Time.  Do pop over to her blog to see her review. My thanks to Orenda for the paperback copy to review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the tour invitation.


|   About the Book   |


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.


|   My Thoughts   |


I’ve read crime thrillers set in many different countries, but until now, none that have been set in New Zealand. Visiting the country has been on my bucket list forever but until I can achieve that, reading a book set there is the next best thing!

The prologue to Overkill had me in bits, it was just so chilling and calculated in its execution – literally! I just can’t imagine what would go through your mind in those circumstances. That has to be one of the strongest beginnings to a crime story that I’ve read and I’m delighted to say that the rest of the story had me just as hooked.

The town of Mataura is one of those places where everybody knows everyone else and their business. Until the death of Gaby Knowes the worst crime that police constable Sam Shephard had to deal with was cattle rustling. However the death of Gaby was devastating for the small-knit community and for Sam personally.

Sam’s past association with Gaby’s husband Lockie very much goes against her and although she tries to be impartial in her professional capacity, she can’t help having preconceived ideas about Gaby’s life and what led to her death. It was her reactions and feelings that made her so believable and more human than just a character on a page. Lockie may have been in her past but even though she is investigating his wife’s death, she still can’t just switch off her feelings for him. Unfortunately for her, her superiors believe her to be a suspect and she is treated like a pariah by most colleagues and many of the townspeople.

The one shining light in Sam’s life was her friend and housemate Maggie.  Maggie was an absolute star and gave Sam support and sympathy when she needed it and a kick up the bum at other times. We could all do with a friend like that!

Sam is a tenacious and stubborn character and despite being officially off the case, she wouldn’t give up and decided to carry out her own investigations, feeling that as she knew the people and area, she would have an advantage over the neighbouring police team that had been brought in. There were times when I thought she was being especially reckless and foolish in pursuing a particular course of action and I was almost shouting “noooo don’t do that you silly woman”.

The characterisation was excellent – even for those playing a minor role and the sense of place was atmospheric and easily imagined. I could easily see in my mind the track roads leading to remote farms (– far too remote for my liking). After reading, I Googled ‘Mataura’ and there are some fabulous images of the river and surrounding landscape.

As you would expect from a crime thriller, there are surprises in store and one or two wrong garden paths. I had a few suspects in mind at various times but there were certain areas where I was way off beam. I think it’s fair to say that Overkill is not your run of the mill crime thriller!

Overkill was a fabulously gripping read and as the first in the series, it’s got off to a fine start. This will be a series I will be keen to follow.



|   Author Bio   |


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.


Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook    Amazon UK   |   Goodreads


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