Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
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.
Overkill is the first book in a New Zealand crime series, published by Orenda this September. This book is a classic police procedural with an original twist: the main detective is actually one of the suspects. I read this book pretty quickly, as I finished it in a couple days. Overkill was smart, fast-paced and, something I’ve really come to appreciate: everything made sense and nothing felt out of place. This was a very staisfying read and, above all, a solid crime novel perfect for fans of the genre.
From the tense prologue, -so scary!- to the last few pages where the main character makes an important decision regarding her life, I was always incredibly hooked and wanting to know more about the mystery. The book took a direction I honestly didn’t expect and although it’s not usually a topic I’m interested in, I believe the idea for this novel was rather original.
My favorite aspect about Overkill by Vanda Symon, is, hands down, the main protagonist, Sam Shephard. It usually takes me a few books to warm up to detectives in crime series, but I loved Samantha right from the start. She’s not your usual tortured detective: she’s fun, she’s human, relatable, and she’s not afraid to admit she makes mistakes. I thought she was super likable and I would definitely read many more books featuring her investigations.
The remote setting was also a key ingredient and I had never read book set in New Zealand. Overkill has made me curious about this country. It’s so far away from mine that it seems like it could be another planet, but I’d love to visit it someday, it seems like such a fascinating area.
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.