Welcome to the Dragon's Pen, the blog of an aspiring kiwi author ... chatting about reading, writing, querying and publishing

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reviewing Murder

And now for something completely different! I've been reviewing a few YA fantasy books lately and I thought it was time for something new.

So today we get a taste of murder, mystery and mayhem.

I'm a little nervous and more than a bit excited because this is the first time I'm reviewing a New Zealand author. Not only does Vanda Symon hail from the same country I do, she actually lives in the same fair city!

Earlier this week I worked a couple of night shifts. During the wee hours of the night and in the weary days in between I read Vanda's first two novels Overkill and The Ringmaster.

Vanda is an immensely talented writer. Her voice - and I think this is where Vanda shines - manages to capture and portray the evasive "unique kiwi voice".

The books are written from the the perspective of Sam Shephard, policewoman, and set in modern day Southland, NZ. I quickly fell in love with Sam's character. She is gritty, opinionated, ballsy and a shamelessly a woman. She wants justice for the victims of injustice - they aren't just bodies - she cares about them about their stories, who they were and how they came to die. She gets angry - furiously so at times (a note of caution: she does swear a bit). And sometimes she cries (I cried with her). She is thoroughly human and thoroughly "kiwi" and I loved her for it!

Sam really resonated with me. She felt so real. Though she's a character in a book she feels like a friend and I can't wait to read Containment and the next book in the series (So, hurry up with the fourth one Vanda!). You can visit Vanda's website here or check out her blog here.

From Blurb: When the body of a young mother is found on the banks of the Mataura River a small rural community is rocked by her 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 duties she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands to find the murderer and clear her name.

The Ringmaster
From the blurb: Death is stalking the Southern City of Dunedin. And what role does the visiting Darling Brothers Circus have to play? 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 investigations there when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens. Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin.

I haven't yet read Containment, this is on my list of books to read in the New Year. Can't wait!

So if you like a good mystery story I highly recommend Vanda Symon's books: Overkill, The Ringmaster and Containment (at all good bookstores now!).

1 comment:

  1. I have also just read Vanda's wonderful first two novels. And I agree they are brilliant. The character Sam is so real, so Kiwi, so believable. Vanda also does our city proud. I love the comment about Dunedin having schizophrenic weather.
    Like you Ruth I am keen to get stuck into Containment and hope that Vanda has many more of these stories to tell.