When the official investigation into the murder of a respectable local businessman fails to add up, and personal problems start to play havoc with her state of mind, New Zealand’s favourite young detective Sam Shephard turns vigilante…
[ About the Book ]
The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.
The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And when another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.
[ My Review ]
Bound by Vanda Symon is book 4 in the bestselling Detective Sam Shephard series and will be published in original paperback with Orenda Books on March 18th. Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed, two previous books in this series (The Ringmaster and Containment) I was really looking forward to reading Bound and it certainly did not disappoint. Described as ‘a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural‘, Detective Sam Shephard is an authentic character in every way, extracting great empathy from readers for her no-nonsense approach to policing and for her own personal battles in her private relationships. Set in Dunedin, the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, Vanda Symon always places her readers right into the setting, with her wonderful descriptions of place. Sam Shephard is a fabulous feisty protagonist perpetually exhausted, perpetually fighting the fight to be accepted in a predominantly male workforce. Her relationship with her boss is toxic and he wastes no time in showing his general disinterest and disgust in her presence. Her once time friend and colleague, Smithy, has changed since a previous tragic incident that left another colleague dead. He is slovenly, disrespectful and challenging Sam in ways she hadn’t experienced before. He is less amenable to her and is making his attitude known. Sam is well peeved off but she is a policewoman first and foremost, meaning justice and truth must prevail against all else.
When Sam is called to a house in the remote area of Seacliff she is very unprepared for the scene awaiting her. It’s eleven-thirty at night and the journey to the home in question is bumpy, dark and quite sinister. At the house she is met with the very heavily blood-spattered gruesome sight of a local wealthy businessman, John Henderson, slain and his wife, Jill, now extremely traumatised, having been gagged and bound, almost suffocating. Their young teenage son, Declan, made the horrendous discovery, raising the alarm. No trace of evidence left behind, just death and devastation. Who was John Henderson? Why was he the target of such a malicious crime? Jill Henderson is immediately hospitalised, clearly in pain and in shock after the experience. Why would anyone so callously murder her husband? She admits to a vague knowledge of some of his more nefarious activities but cannot comprehend who would want him dead.
As the team get to work on the case, information begins to trickle in and Sam soon realises that this murder is a lot more layered and complex than originally thought. Her colleagues see a more cut and dried outcome but Sam is unsure. Something smells. Something is off. With her usual tenacity and ability to dig deeper, Sam goes on a solo run in her search for the truth.
Sam’s personal life comes under serious pressure when her Dad is moved to a hospice. His days are numbered and Sam is distraught at seeing her father so weakened, a shell of the man she once knew. Her mother and herself have a very dysfunctional relationship and Sam carries enormous guilt as her workload ramps up, allowing her less time to spend with the family. Yet, for Sam, the increase in casework is almost therapeutic in other ways, distracting her from her pain, were it not for the deliberate digs and quips coming from her boss. He is relentless in his bullying attitude toward her but she will not be broken by him, raising a respectful eyebrow from a few colleagues.
Vanda Symon’s books contain short chapters which make for a very snappy reading experience. Once started it is very difficult to put these books down as the reader races through the chapters at speed. Bound is an exciting page-turner packed with lots of nasty and devious characters, all depicted excellently by Vanda Symon. I mentioned in a previous review that there is an old-school Hollywood noir style to this series of books and it carries through in Bound. The dialogue between all the cast is sharp and fast with black humour and wit evident, even in the darker moments. Sam Shephard carries a very heavy load determined to prove her worth in a job where she is constantly undermined. She is driven, she is strong and she is dogged in her pursuit for the truth.
Bound is a very engaging read with a wonderfully plotted tale that keeps the suspense rolling right to the end. Sam Shephard is not without flaw, making her an intriguing protagonist, as it is in her quirks and imperfections that we feel the authenticity of her character. A really enjoyable series, these are books that I always look forward to reading, confident in Vanda Symon’s ability to transport me to Dunedin and its surrounding landscape. Bound is a sure-fire recommendation from me, so do please dive in and let me know how you get on!
[ Bio ]
Vanda Symon 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 climbed to 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.
Twitter ~ @vandasymon