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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Last Wednesday night I had the privilege to attend Vanda Symon's book launch for her fourth Sam Shepard detective novel, BOUND. It was a lovely evening out, hosted by Dunedin's own fabulous University bookshop.

Many of the reveiws I'd read said how un-put-downable this latest edition was and how they'd stayed up until the wee small hours because they just had to keep reading. So in spite of the fact that I was dying to read my new book, I decided to put it away until I had a few days off work which I could devote to Sam's latest adventure.

That day was today.

I shooed my kids out the door, ate breakfast, checked my email then curled up in my comfy chair with my feet up and opened the book. I took my nose out from between the pages only long enough to eat, do a bit of house work, help kids with homework, chat to a friend who stopped by, do some shopping and cook tea.

I finished BOUND this evening.

Evidently I was immersed!

Bound was a very enjoyable read. I was hooked from the first page and loved the twists and turns that complicated the plot.

I'm something of a fan of Vanda's (I now have all four of her books and all sighed by her. lol!). It has been fun watching Sam's character grow and mature and also to see Vanda's talent increase with each new book she has written.

Bound was a effortless, exciting read. The characters are so well drawn; genuine, flawed people. And of course, as ever, Dickhead Johns is fun to hate. Sam's feisty personality leaps off the page and her love of Dunedin is wonderfully evident.

I've no doubt that fans will in time come to Dunedin simply to visit the places that Vanda's characters go. The Fix for coffee. The Nova cafe. The Chinese Gardens. Marlow Park (the park by the beach, which my kids affectionately call "the Dinosaur Park"). Maybe even the police stations ...?

Here's the blurb for Bound:

A home invasion shocks the nation.

A man is murdered, his wife bound, gagged and left to watch.

But when Detective Sam Shephard scratches the surface, the victim, a successful businessman, is not all he seems to be. And when the evidence points to two of Dunedin's most hated criminals, the case seems cut and dried ... until the body count starts to rise.

Meanwhile, Sam is in big trouble again ...

So what next? Vanda is taking a break from Sam's adventures to write a dark thriller set in Auckland which is set to come out next year. So while I can't wait to read this new book, I hope maybe one day we'll get to see more of Sam.

If you haven't read Vanda's books, Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, I urge you to give them a go.

If you have, what do you think and which one is your favourite thus far?


  1. I enjoyed the first three, each in their own way, so I wouldn't like to pick a favourite. How lucky to have your books signed!

  2. I know! :)

    While I enjoyed them all, I think The Ringmaster and Bound are probably my favourites.

  3. Nice review Ruth. Glad you enjoyed the book - I thought it was terrific.

    All four in the series are good-to-great crime novels, but for me BOUND is probably the best yet. Coin toss between the rawness and vitality of OVERKILL and the slightly more polished RINGMASTER for next best...

  4. Thanks Craig. I enjoyed your interview/review of the book too.

    I think I found Ringmaster more chilling because of the close-to-homeness factor and as a result it was my favourite. I love the polish and twists of Bound so I can't pick between the two.

  5. Great review Ruth. I'm halfway through Bound and enjoying it. I've always said Ringmaster was my favourite. It's the elephant episode that does it! But that might change once I've finished Bound.

  6. Great to see you at the launch - thanks for coming along. True to the spirit of Sam we went to Nova for dinner afterward!

    Glad you enjoyed the book - even if it hijacked your day (-:

  7. I was a willing victim of that hijacking Vanda ;)

  8. In a nutshell. Pen and Craig both. I was hijacked by Overkill but adored the Bound. Oh, and isn't it cool to count Vanda as a mate. She had to come to school so I could interview her and the kids were enthralled 'Can you get her back here to talk to us?' They asked.

    Of course. Lucky things! Imagine having Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham or Val MacDaimard popping in to talk to your students.