Author: Vanda Symon
Genre: Crime Thriller
Format: Paperback 320 pages
Release Date: 25 April 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Firstly I would like to thank Anne Cater and Karen at Orenda Books for inviting me to join in this Blog Tour and for the copy of this book provided to me for review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…
Marginalised by previous antics, 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 investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…
I didn’t realise until I had finished reading this book, but this is actually the second in a series featuring the lead character Sam Shephard. The first book in the series is called ‘Overkill’ but ‘The Ringmaster’ is entirely capable of being read as a standalone.
Sam is a tenacious female detective working within the police force in New Zealand. She may be small, but she sure is feisty! She is constantly given a hard time from her superior officer and tasked with following up the small leads in investigations but despite this, she speaks her mind and manages to show everyone on the force that she is someone with a sharp intuition who should be listened to.
Sam is a really relatable character, she is just trying to make her way in her job, making the inevitable mistakes along the way and she suffers with the same family and relationship drama that most people endure at some point or another. When I realised this was the second book in the series featuring Sam I was surprised because her character is built upon really well in this book. Sometimes with a series you miss getting a proper sense of a character if you haven’t read the first or previous books but this was not the case here.
The main plot of the story is the classic ‘who done it’ theme in that a young university girl has been murdered and Sam is trying to track down the killer. Suspicion is cast all around in this book and various leads are followed and I really enjoyed reading along and following Sam on the investigation as she ploughed her way through suspects.
In a bizarre turn of events for me I actually had my suspicions over who the killer could be from very early on but no solid reasoning as to why it would be that person. This didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the book at all as I was still really curious to find out if my initial thought had been right and more importantly why. I would be really interested to see if any other readers of this book managed to guess the killer early on and what made them think it could be that person!
I have read there are plans for a third book in this series so I look forward to reading where the author takes Sam next and what investigation she finds herself entangled in next.
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 also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.
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