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.
I have become a huge fan of Vanda Symon’s books over the past three years, so I am delighted to be one of the blogs launching the tour today for the latest book in the Sam Shephard series, Bound. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for giving me a place on the tour and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
After following Sam through the preceding three books in the series and watching her as she has grown and matured in her life, both in and out of the police force, she has become a bit of a friend now and I am always keen to catch up with and see what she is up to. Well, in this latest instalment, things are kicking off on every front for her.
The book opens with a particularly brutal crime which seems to be firmly tied to some unsavoury underworld bigwigs. However, it all seems to have come together a bit too conveniently for Sam’s liking, and she has her doubts about the way the investigation is going. Knowing Sam as we do by now, she never opts for the easy route and can’t keep her doubts to herself, which sets her on a collision course with most of her colleagues, particularly her boss, DI Johns, with whom her relationship just gets worse and worse. The scenes between feisty, take-no-crap Sam and the cantankerous boss are some of my favourites in the book.
At least Paul always has her back, and their relationship seems to be going from strength to strength. I have to admit, through the author’s descriptions, I have slightly got the hots for Paul myself but things are getting more complicated for Sam in that area of her life too. Then, throw in her father’s illness, her fraught relationship with her mother, the decline in her old partner Smithy … poor Sam has anything but a quiet life in any quarter at the moment. Thank heavens for Maggie!
I thought this book was fabulously plotted from start to finish. The crime was brutal and baffling, and it was a joy to watch things unfold to reveal all, which did not end as I thought it might. Vanda’s writing is smarty and snappy, with short chapters that keep you reading and reading at pace, with no time to even take a breath, it is fairly relentless which keeps it exciting. The clues are there to the solution if you pay attention, but it is fiendish enough to keep you guessing, and there are plenty of surprises at the conclusion to reward the effort of reading to the end (which is no effort at all, to be fair) and leave you panting for the next book to see how certain aspects pan out.
Vanda is a really clever writer. Her plots are ingenious and gripping, her characters living and breathing and she creates a real sense of place, which will make you dying to hop a plane to New Zealand as soon as possible. Sam is a proper, imperfect, relatable, warm and admirable person to carry the story, you really care about what happens because of her. I only have one complaint. I now have to wait a whole year for another Sam Shephard book, which is tortuous. Write faster, Vanda, please. Faster, faster!
Bound is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 4 March, and you can buy a copy here.
The book is taking a month-long blog tour, so do make sure to follow along:
About the Author
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 has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.
Connect with Vanda:
Facebook: Vanda Simon