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.
If you’ve read the Sam Shephard series, you’ll know all about Vanda Symon, New Zealand’s Queen of Crime. If you’ve not read them, please do, they are cracking. Faceless is jam-packed with suspense, utterly gripping and I promise you’ll clench all the way through. Certain bits I felt I stopped breathing altogether! And don’t get me started on the final few chapters… Billy is a vulnerable, homeless artist who turns tricks to fund her art. When Bradley, a stressed, middle-aged man picks up Billy, his frustration leads him down a path, and pushes him into acting to prove he’s not weak, he lashes out and kidnaps Billy. Pals from the streets, Max is forced to come out of the shadows to find his only friend, confront his demons and boy, he’s committed. Your heart breaks as you follow Billy’s ordeal and as her plight becomes more and more desperate. Symon’s powerful storytelling delivers an emotional rollercoaster of a thriller, and doesn’t let you go. You follow the jaw-dropping journey as the faceless street dwellers become real people and we understand what led them to the streets; a thought-provoking thriller that will have your heart racing.
With intense pace, an intriguing storyline, and fascinating characters, this is an incredibly readable crime thriller. When Sam Shephard starts to investigate a murder in Dunedin, New Zealand she soon realises that things aren't as obvious as they may first appear. This is such a fabulous series, with a vivid sense of place, great characters, and juicy crimes to solve, no-nonsense detective Sam Shephard often has to kick some serious ass. Do start with Overkill, and make your way through the series until you come to Bound, I’d advise starting at the beginning and reading in order just to enjoy the experience to its fullest. Sam appears to have mellowed just a tad, her relationship is evolving, but she is more than capable of standing up for herself when needed. The exchanges between Sam and her boss make me wince and then smirk if she manages to land a blow. Vanda Symon balances dramatic entertainment with penetrating storylines and Bound is another cracking and thoroughly enjoyable addition to a winner of a series.
Raw, honest, punchy and smirky, Containment, the third Sam Shephard book, continues the series in fabulous style. When a container ship spills its cargo on a New Zealand beach it sets in motion a series of events that puts Sam right in the middle of a whole heap of trouble. To have an understanding of Sam and what makes her just that little bit different, you really do need to start with Overkill and The Ringmaster. Vanda Symon has written a bold, gutsy protagonist who fights her way through life. Sam’s thoughts and feelings stamp her way all over this book, ready to kick and squabble just to keep her head above water. There is a relationship in the background, and that is where we see Sam’s vulnerable side (have to say that I wanted to settle her down for a good old chat on occasion). If you enjoy a quick-firing, fast-moving tale with a tight storyline then Containment could just be the very book for you.
A crime series you can really get your armchair sleuthing teeth into, Detective Sam Shepherd is back in her typical headstrong (oh so fabulous) style. I have quite simply adored the first two books in this award-winning New Zealand based series, which starts with ‘Overkill’ and is followed by ‘The Ringmaster’. A murder is linked to a travelling circus, and Sam wants in on the detective action. Cracking whip-fast action goes hand in hand with Sam telling her own story. Vanda Symon has the wonderful knack of conjuring Sam into being before my very eyes. I can hear her talking as plain as plain can be, her voice magically transfers from the page, straight into my head. Sam makes me flinch, smirk, even laugh out loud as she makes her way through life, I really do have a soft spot for her and would be more than happy to go out for a drink (perhaps just the one though). The author allows you to be several steps ahead of Sam, sometimes it is a case of waiting for her to catch up, which I found to be exceedingly entertaining! ‘The Ringmaster’ is an absolute beauty of a read, well-written, absorbing, and extremely enjoyable.
A rawly realistic, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining crime novel set in a small New Zealand town. Police officer Sam Shephard responds to reports of a missing person, when a body is found she discovers there is far more behind the apparent suicide than would first appear. The prologue is absolutely riveting, the first few sentences fell like a sledge hammer, nailing my concentration to the page. Sam is as fabulous as a main character could be, gutsy, down-to-earth, likeable, I could reach out and touch her feelings, empathise with her. Vanda Symon writes with a beautiful simplicity, not once overplaying her hand, she took me completely and entirely into the storyline. The Sam Shephard series has been on the New Zealand best seller list and shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel and I can see why. I highly recommend Overkill, it is powerful, cooly assured, and an absolute belter of a read. Books in The Sam Shephard Series: 1. Overkill 2. The Ringmaster 3. Containment 4. Bound Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
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 as it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide, and has to face the realization 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. She must find the murderer, and clear her name.