The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is the second book in the Sam Shepard series, the previous being the wonderful OverKill. I enjoyed that book a lot but liked this one much more. Sam has moved with her friend to Dunedin and is a detective with the local force. She had a run in with her new boss before she started and he is determined to make her suffer. But, she has the backing from others in the team, he is one of those people who always needs someone to bully.

Sam is such a likeable character, I think one of the reasons I like her so much is because she is completely normal. She drinks, sometimes heavily, eats the wrong food, makes mistakes, has amusing dreams and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She has a great relationship with her father but a difficult one with her mother. Every time her mother featured with her ‘frosty nostril’ it made me smile. I could picture the scene so clearly.

Even though the main investigation concerns the murder of a university student, there is also a very sad investigation that involves a circus and a series of threats to Sam. But none of them dominate the story. It is Sam’s personality, the way she approaches each of the cases and her new position that the novel focuses on. And it works brilliantly. I hope that the rest of the series will be published by Orenda, I’m hooked. 

Overkill by Vanda Symon – Blog Tour Review.

Overkill Cover

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.

My Review

One of the reasons I enjoy fiction from this part of the world is because the characters are so brutally honest and refreshing, Shep does not disappoint and she is one of my new favourite heroines.
She is loyal, hardworking, determined,rash, pedantic but she is also quick to react, not always in the best way and at times her own worst enemy. The only person who understands her and manages to calm her down is her flat mate Maggie. I was longing to ask her just to step back a little, to calm down and see the predicament she was placing herself in. But she also made me laugh, especially with the way she talked to people who alienated her.
The prologue was one of the most chilling parts of the novel, it is one that I can still feel the desperation of the victim weeks later. The character has only a small part in the novel obviously but the shock of the murder is evident throughout the whole novel.
I could imagine this small town very easily, a town full of hardworking people who were desperately clinging to its last big employer. How many towns are like this across the world now? It is also a town that appears to thrive on gossip and when things go wrong for Shep everybody knows.
I read a lot of crime fiction and sometimes work out easily who the killer is and I had no idea why somebody wanted Gaby dead. I think that this is because the reasoning for the crime was completely different to every other crime fiction book that I have read. And it is utterly believable.
This is the first book in the series and I hope that the others will be published soon.

Overkill Blog Tour Poster-1