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 said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer … and clear her name.
I loved loved loved this book! It is exactly the kind of thing I adore to read – great setting, great atmosphere and a kick-ass leading lady. The opening chapter completely and utterly chilled me to the bone, and seeing as I read it during the big 2018 heat wave, that is a feat that needs to recognised! Vanda Symon opens with a murder, it’s cold blooded, horrifying and utterly, utterly chilling. I think what made it even more body shuddering for me, was the fact that the victim, Gaby, has a daughter a little younger than my son, who witnesses the whole thing. It was one of the best openings I have ever read.
I always enjoy the ‘crime in a small town’ theme so this was another big tick for me. Mataura is a small farming town in New Zealand, everyone knows everyone, the residents have been there for years and years, and a murder scandal sends ripples of disbelief and accusation through the town. PC Sam Shephard is the sole-charge police constable and her single mindedness to find the killer, is a very endearing quality. I liked Sam a lot, she doesn’t take any crap from the locals, she is respected, and is good at her job. I really liked the relationship between her and her flat mate, Maggie. I really hope we see more of this in the next book.
The atmosphere Vanda Symon has created is superb. You feel claustrophobic, hemmed in by the Mataura residents. You can almost taste the distrust that starts to move around the town when it becomes clear there is a killer amongst them. And that only builds when Sam has to fight to clear her own name.
This is book one in a series and I cannot wait to read more. Vanda Symon has brought us an outstandingly written crime novel. Beautiful writing, fantastic plotting, plenty of red herrings (I love a good red herring) and a sassy, honest, endearing heroine. I enjoyed every second of ‘Overkill’ and I highly recommend it.
‘Overkill’ is published on the 6th of September in paperback by Orenda Books. A big thank you to Team Orenda for my reading copy and to Anne Cater for inviting me on the blog tour. Make sure you check out the other ‘Overkill’ stops!