Today is my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone. Thank you to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and to Orenda Books for giving me a copy of the book. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed previous books by Michael J Malone, I was keen to read his latest book, In The Absence of Miracles. It was a book that I agreed to read without even reading the blurb, so I went in with no idea what to expect, apart from what I had assumed about the authors books from what I had read before.
This book is nothing like I was expecting. It was a story that was heartbreaking and difficult to read, and one which makes the reader face the assumptions we all make about the things we read and hear.
The main character in the book is John, a respected teacher who seems to be floating through life, a bit of a lost soul. When he discovers a brother that he knew nothing about John focuses on finding out what happened to him, and soon the search becomes an obsession.
It soon becomes clear that John is going to find out a lot more about his childhood than what happened to his missing brother. It’s a real journey and it is not an easy one to travel. How much can we trust what we remember from when we were young? Is it really possible to forget huge chunks of your life?
I was totally unprepared for where this book would take me, the story is full of heartbreak but also hope. It has left me thoughtful and sad, but also keen to read more from Michael J Malone.
A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone
John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.
With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood. For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.
For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.
Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.
About The Author:
Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritanand Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.
You can read my review of House Of Spines by Michael J Malone here.
In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today I’ve got an extract from Turbulent Wake by Paul E Hardisty. I haven’t managed to get this book to the top of my overflowing tbr pile, but it sounds brilliant and I must read it soon. I hope that the extract will tempt you to read it too!
A bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love, loss and grief. This extraordinary departure from the critically acclaimed thriller writer Paul E Hardisty explores the indelible damage we can do to those closest to us, the tragedy of history repeating itself and ultimately, the power of redemption in a time of change. Paul drew on his own experiences of travelling around the world as an engineer, from the dangerous deserts of Yemen, the oil rigs of Texas, the wild rivers of Africa, to the stunning coral cays of the Caribbean. Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Whilst clearing out the old man’s house, he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of vignettes and stories that cover the whole of his father ’s turbulent and restless life.
March 5th. On the plane, flying to London
You never really know anyone. Especially the ones you love. I push the stack of papers into the seatback pocket and take a deep breath of pressurised air. Seven miles below, the checkerboard prairie stretches away like a looping dream, one where you’re stuck in a place and you can’t get out, even though you know it’s a dream and if you could just wake up it would be over. Except, of course, it’s not. It’s my life, laid out before me in endless miles of iced-over prairie, a recurring pattern of abandoned hope and gutted wilderness that unspools at the terminal edge of a horizon that once held so much promise. The brother I didn’t get a chance to know. The mother who disappeared. The father who pushed me away. The wife who got sick of me and found someone else. And now, apparently, the uncle I never even knew I had. If family defines you, then I am perilously fucking close to indeterminate. And this is how he decides to tell me. I went my whole life thinking that I had my old man pegged. Sure, he’d travelled some, even taken me with him a few times when I was younger, when my mother was still around. But my strongest memo- ries are of him arriving and leaving, going away for hours at a time, returning red-faced and covered in sweat, and then for days and weeks for work, always on his way to the airport or coming back from it. Occasionally, he’d bring me something home: a stuffed baby alligator the time he went to Louisiana; a tiny woven prayer mat from Jordan (for a six-year old?); a Calgary Flames hockey jersey from Canada (now, that was cool). Most of the time, though, he was just absent, even when he was home. Usually, it was me and Mum and my brother, and then later just me and Mum, in whatever place he’d dragged us all to at the time. Now, it’s just me.
Everything about my old man was from another time. The clothes
he wore. The way he spoke and acted around other people. The stories
he told. I mean, what kid who has grown up with access to the internet
wants to hear stories about steam trains and writing love letters (the
old-fashioned kind with paper and pen and envelopes and stamps) and
getting places by ship, making calls from phone boxes and using fax
machines and typewriters and all that old museum stuff. I can remember
now, looking back, just tuning out when he started one of his stories. Not
that he did it that often; just every once in a while. Usually when he’d
had a couple of whiskies after dinner – when we still sat down, the four
of us, and ate dinner as a family – he’d start into one. And then, well,
I’d just sit there watching his mouth move and the way his neck would
tense up as he spoke and that stupid way he’d furl his brow for emphasis,
and I never heard a word. Now, I wish I’d listened.
No wonder he left all this shit behind.
The funeral was a pretty lame affair. Not many people showed up.
A couple of his old friends came, guys with old names like Robert and
Paul and Tobias, looking like they were planning to follow him in the
not-too-distant future, with their thinning grey hair and grey beards and
those watery, faraway eyes that weep regret. Makes you wonder. A whole
life lived, and I bet not even those old guys with their burst-blood-vessel
faces and dodgy, shuffling gaits had the slightest idea who he really was,
what was really going on inside that head. I mean, I as sure as shit never
did. And I know my mother never did either.
The funeral home did a crap job. I regret doing it that way, now. The
pastor or whatever he was started out calling him Walter. Did it three
times, Walter this and Walter survived by such and such. The prick didn’t
see me waving at him till he’d blown it three times, me sitting there in
the front row, mouthing Warren. Warren, for fuck’s sake. It wasn’t
how he would have wanted it, I know. Mostly because he wouldn’t have
wanted anything. ‘Just throw me over the side so the sharks can get me’,
I remember him saying once, somewhere – was it on that last sailing trip
we all took together, me, my brother Rhys, Mum and Dad, in the Greek
Islands? I must have been eight, seven maybe. I still have vivid memories
of some of it: the dolphins riding our bow wave that time, the way they
looked up at me with those dark, knowing eyes; the view from the highest
point on one of the islands – I can’t remember the name of the place now
– looking out across the sea and all those pretty white buildings along the
shore; rowing back to the boat one night in the dinghy, Dad at the oars,
Mum in the bow laughing at something he’d said, the lights from the
village dancing on the dark water all around us like stars.
She was beautiful, my mother. Everyone said so. I don’t have many
photographs of her, or of him for that matter. In one of the few that have
somehow survived, they are sitting under an old stone archway. The sea is
faded blue behind them. Mum is in a short skirt. Her long legs are folded
elegantly to one side, her honey and rosewood hair blows around her face.
She is smiling. She had great teeth, a big mouth, high cheekbones, a ski-
jump nose that was a little too big for anyone to call her looks perfect, but
she was beautiful in a strong-looking kind of way – robust and healthy
and symmetrical with lovely blue eyes. In contrast, he looks flawed. A
nose broken one too many times. An inverted arch of teeth that left dark
gaps on each flank of his rarely seen smile (other than his two front slabs
and molars, his top adult teeth never came in, so the small baby teeth
were still there). He is unshaven, his hair longish, sea-and-sun waved,
unruly. Dad is holding Mum’s hand. In that moment, they look happy.
He was never in her league, and I know for a fact that he knew it, too.
He told me once, I can’t remember when or where. ‘Son,’ he said, ‘always
marry up in the gene pool. I sure did.’
He would have hated it, today, the funeral. I don’t know why I did
it. Seemed right at the time – to mark his passing somehow. I’ve always
hated that use of the word: passing. Just call it what it is. Death. The
End. And we never talked about it, of course, at the end. Not like we
didn’t have the time. I went to see him, of course – more than once – but
he didn’t want me there, made that very plain. ‘Don’t you have some-
thing better to do?’ he said to me. I mean, what does a guy say to that?
Fact was, I did have better things to do. So in the end you get what you
get, Dad. Not like it makes any difference. Not one bit.
And I suppose it makes finding all this stuff that much more of a mystery. I hadn’t been inside the place for ages, not since the year I moved to London, the year I met Maria and everything was so great – before it all started to go to shit. But that’s another story. From the outside, my dad’s place looked much the same, the caragana hedge out front that much taller, the paint on the shiplap siding peeling, the blue spruce we planted that spring when I was a kid, huge now, towering. I’d only gone to have a quick look, figure out what it would take to have someone come in and clean the place out, so I could put it on the market. I was only in town for a couple of days. I had to organise the funeral, sort out stuff with the lawyers, and then get back to London for an important work meeting. I knew the place would be a mess, but I was totally unprepared for what I found.
About The Author:
Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners of out Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and was a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.
Turbulent Wake by Paul E Hardisty is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
I’m so happy to be part of the blog tour for Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech and published by the fabulous Orenda Books. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the tour. I received a copy of Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
I love Louise Beech, she is such a fabulous author who has a real special way of telling a story. Thankfully Call Me Star Girl is another great book. It is a bit of a change for the author, with this book being more of a psychological thriller than any of her previous books.
The story revolves around Stella, a woman who appears to have everything sorted; a good job, boyfriend, home and family around her. But all is most definitely not as it seems and it quickly becomes clear that Stella is keeping secrets from those around her. But are they keeping secrets from her too?
The majority of the book takes place over one night, and what a night it is. As the night progresses it all becomes clear, or does it?
I really liked the characters in the book, while not always likeable they were believable and felt real. Stella’s backstory was particularly good I thought and could have made a whole book on its own.
Once again Louise Beech has woven an interesting tale that I think would be difficult not to get caught up in. I read the book quickly and loved how it kept me guessing. Roll on the author’s next book!
Tonight is the night for secrets… Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers. Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father … What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything… With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…
About The Author:
Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today is it my stop on the blog tour for The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl and published by Orenda Books. Thank you to Anne Cater for asking me to be part of the tour. I was given a copy of the book but was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
It seems that there is a wave of books about the second world war, they are everywhere and hard to avoid. I considered myself quite knowledgeable about the second world war and the treatment of Jewish people during the war in Europe. But every book I have read recently has taught me something new, and I have often been shocked at the huge chunks of knowledge that I am missing.
The Courier was one of the books that did just that. I did not know that Norway was so caught up in the war, I had no idea that Jewish people in Norway were persecuted and sent to concentration camps in Poland.
The story revolves around Ester and her experiences, starting with her fleeing Norway for Sweden when the gestapo come for her family, Ester worked as a courier, helping to smuggle illegal newspapers out of Oslo.
It seems that Ester is well connected, knowing many people, some of whom are helpful and others that bring trouble to Ester, both is 1942 and again in 1967 when people are brought back together when someone they all thought was dead turned up very much alive.
The book alternates between the two timelines and I have to admit that I found that confusing for a good part of the book. There are also many names to remember, which for my brain is made even harder by them not being familiar names, although eventually I got the hang of it. There is a small part set in 2015 too.
The story is interesting, I liked the simplicity of the writing, and how everything ties together. Ester is a great character, she’s strong and resilient and she is definitely not someone to be best with. I like a feisty female character and Ester fits the bill perfectly.
The conclusion of the book was not what I expected, it was well done and fitted well with the story.
The Courier is a great example of Nordic Noir, if you haven’t read the genre then you really should, and this book is a great place to start.
In Oslo in 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In great haste, she escapes to Sweden whilst the rest of her family is deported to Auschwitz.
In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, Ester ’s childhood best friend. A relationship develops between them, but ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter Turid. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
Written with Dahl’s trademark characterisation and clever plotting, The Courier sees one of Norway’s most critically acclaimed authors at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrifying periods of modern history. With its sophisticated storytelling and elegant prose, this stunning and compelling wartime thriller is reminiscent of the writing of John Le Carré and William Boyd.
About The Author:
One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.
I’m a happy member of #TeamLori! It’s such a good series and I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for the third book in the series.
This is the third book in the Lori Anderson series by Steph Broadribb and these books just keep getting better and better. If you haven’t read the previous books then I think that you could pick it up here and work out enough of what is going on for it to make sense, but it is definitely worth going back to book one, Deep Down Dead and book two, Deep Blue Trouble.
The main character, Lori, is so feisty and strong that I love reading about her and what she gets up to. Of course, her life has never been easy and she has faced more than her fair share of trouble but I suppose that being a Bounty Hunter isn’t the most peaceful career a gal could have.
Steph Broadribb is a brilliant writer, her books are so full of action that you will not want to stop reading. I found this book so hard to put down as I just had to keep reading and find out how Lori was going to get herself out of the trouble that she always seems to find herself in.
Once again, publisher Orenda Books brings us a brilliant read from an excellent author. This is definitely one of my favourite series to read. My only complaint is that the books don’t come out fast enough!
Thank you to Orenda Books and Steph Broadribb for a copy of Deep Dirty Truth. I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
A price on her head. A secret worth dying for. Just 48 hours to expose the truth…
Single-mother bounty hunter Lori Anderson has finally got her family back together, but her new-found happiness is shattered when she’s snatched by the Miami Mob – and they want her dead. Rather than a bullet, they offer her a job: find the Mob’s ‘numbers man’ – Carlton North – who’s in protective custody after being forced to turn federal witness against them. If Lori succeeds, they’ll wipe the slate clean and the price on her head – and those of her family – will be removed. If she fails, they die.
With North due in court in forty-eight hours, Lori sets off across Florida, racing against the clock to find him and save her family. Only in this race the prize is more deadly – and the secret she shares with JT more dangerous – than she ever could have imagined. In this race only the winner gets out alive…
Brimming with tension, high-stakes jeopardy and high-voltage action, and a deep, emotional core, Deep Dirty Truth is an unmissable thriller by one of the freshest and most exciting voices in crime fiction.
About The Author:
Steph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.
Steph is an alumna of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens.
Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Today it is my great pleasure to have a stop on the blog tour by Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen and published by Orenda Books. Antti is a great author and although I couldn’t fit in reading the book for my stop I’m delighted to have a guest post by him about writing funny crime. And that is something that he does well, the last book that I read of his, The Man Who Died, was really rather gruesome but also very funny.
WRITING FUNNY CRIME, OR: WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE MARX BROTHERS WHEN I WAS SEVEN
I suppose something similar had already happened even earlier, but I do remember an afternoon in the late 1970s when I was watching television with my father in the northern suburb of Maunula in Helsinki, Finland, when something indeed clicked.
It was an old film, I could tell that by the crackling sound and the black and white picture that sometimes jumped a bit, or omitted a fraction of a second of screen time so the actors’ movements seemed suddenly quite angular. But all of that didn’t matter. I instantly knew it was a good one and right up my alley. My father laughed, I laughed. We probably laughed at different things, or at the same things for different reasons, but that’s just how it goes when one of you is seven and the other is 39. And after seeing that first one, I wanted to see more of those crazy Marx Brothers.
What does this have to with crime writing? Well, the Marx Brothers came to mind again a few years ago when I was at a certain kind of crossroads with my writing. After five very serious, very dark crime novels I needed a change. I believe what I needed to do was bring more of myself into my writing. What I now see I was missing in my writing was my other artistic love besides noir literature: comedy. As I was re-watching old comedies (that probably have more to do with my getting into this writing game in the first place than I am even giving credit for) I realized just how good those old Marx Brothers films were. Or, more precisely, how good their writers were and how much in fact I had learned that Sunday afternoon in 1979.
I watched the films and then read parts of the scripts (Monkey Business, Duck Soup, A Day at the Races) and found them even more anarchic, more absurd, more brilliant than the films. With the films, especially as Groucho or Chico launch into their tirades, everything flies and wizzes past you in nonsensical speed. (An argument could be made that it is nonsensical in any speed, but we’ll skip that.) In reading the scripts, I fully realized that each scene, each exchange was used to the max, so to speak.
To be honest, I never modeled any story or book after the Marx Brothers or even consider them a direct influence. But I do suppose I have tried to learn a thing or two about the optimal use of dialogue, the delightful power of the absurd, and just some perfectly timed silliness. (Of course, the Marx Brothers also tackled more serious issues like, for example, tyranny and dictatorship and war in Duck Soup. In their own way, it must be said.)
And, most importantly, I think, what happened that day long time ago was that a lamp got lit. My goodness, it’s great to laugh at crazy silly anarchic well-done stuff, and how it lifts the spirits and how it lightens the heart. I don’t know. At seven, I probably survived without analyzing the mental health effects of comedic entertainment. It was just enough to laugh and have a good time. (Which actually doesn’t sound too bad on this particular middle-aged grey day.) Anyway, I have the Marx Brothers to thank for something, certainly. And it’s just so nice to know there is writing and film that has stuff like this randomly selected (just by opening the script book) piece of dialogue:
GROUCHO: You’re just the man I wanted to see. If I could show you how to save 20 per cent, would you be interested? Of course you would. In the first place, your overhead is too high and your brow is too low. Interested already, aren’t you?
GROUCHO: Now, just wait till I get through.
HELTON: I haven’t got time.
GROUCHO: Now, there are two fellas trying to attack you, aren’t there? And there are two fellas trying to defend you.
GROUCHO: Now that’s 50 per cent waste. Now why can’t you be attacked by your own bodyguards? Your life will be saved and that’s… that’s 100 per cent waste. Now what have you got? You’ve still got me and I’ll attack you for nothing.
Come to think of it, doesn’t that sound like the beginning of a certain kind of crime story?
Fargo meets Baywatch in a darkly funny thriller by the critically acclaimed author of The Man Who Died Multi-platform, buzz-building marketing & publicity campaign Bestselling Finnish crime novel of 2017 Challenges the Scandinavian crime-fiction genre formula Sex, lies and ill-fitting swimwear … Sun Protection Factor 100 Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village – the ‘hottest beach in Finland’. The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.
About The Author:
Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.
Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen is out now and is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.
Ok, so when I was asked to be on the blog tour for Overkill I pretty much bit Anne Cater’s arm off because when I heard that Orenda Books had signed Vanda Symon I was desperate to read it. Why you wonder? Well, I used to live in New Zealand and I miss the place a lot, a big part of me would love to move back, but for now I make do with being slightly obsessed with all things New Zealandy so the chance to read one of NZ’s top crime authors was something that I wasn’t going to miss! But with such high hopes did the book disappoint?
I was so excited to read Overkill by Vanda Symon’s one of New Zealand’s top crime authors, although slightly concerned that my insanely high hopes would mean that I would hate it.
Thankfully I didn’t need to worry about that as from the first to the last page I enjoyed reading Overkill. I loved the small town setting, where everyone knows everyone and how claustrophobic it can feel.
I was surprised to learn how long ago Overkill was written, but it has been updated and so it feels very current, you really wouldn’t know that it was written more than a year or so ago.
The main character, Sam, is a really normal person which made her easy to relate to. The crime that Sam is trying to solve is clever, I love how we know more than she does about it, apart from who had actually done it, but it made reading how she worked it all out enjoyable and somehow satisfying. I was definitely routing for Sam.
There is much to like about Overkill, the pacy read that keeps the reader hooked from the start, the varied characters, Sam’s great relationship with her flatmate and the desire to see justice for the poor woman killed in the most awful way at the start of the book.
I liked the ending too, we know that there is more to come from Sam but we also know that things will be changing. I, for one, am very excited to see what’s next.
Thank you to Orenda Books for a copy of Overkill by Vanda Symon, I was under no obligation to review the book and all thoughts are my own.
Sam Shephard, a young sole-charge police constable in Mataura, is the main character in a new series of crime novels set in New Zealand. When a young mother in the town is brutally murdered (it seems to be a professional job), Sam is at the heart of the police hunt to find the killer. But then Sam’s past relationship with the dead woman’s husband is revealed. Sam is stood down from the case and is now a prime murder suspect. Frustrated, Sam loses her cool. She can’t stop herself making murder inquiries and gets into serious trouble with her police superiors. But then the young constable stumbles onto something. The murdered woman was working as a journalist and had uncovered a local scandal. She’d been killed to keep her quiet. When Sam enters this world she’s in real physical danger, until at last a conspiracy is uncovered and the killer revealed. Disillusioned, Sam prepares to leave town. What will she do next?
About the Author:
Vanda’s first novel Overkill, was written while juggling the demands of a 6 month old baby and a two year old. She suspects the prologue to Overkill was written in a state of sleep deprivation induced paranoia brought about by middle of the night feeds and imagining every awful thing that could possibly happen to her family. None of them ever did. Reading that prologue still makes her cry.
A little time has elapsed and the six-month old and two-year old are now teenagers. As well as trying to raise two wonderful human beings, she has added three more Detective Sam Shephard novels to the series and written the stand alone psychological thriller The Faceless.
As well as being a crime writer, she hosts a monthly radio show on Dunedin’s Otago Access Radio called Write On, where she interviews local writers, and catches the odd international super-star if they’re in town.
And just to prove that she is a tiger for punishment, she has recently completed a PhD at the University of Otago looking at the communication of science through crime fiction – the perfect subject for a science loving crime writer. She has an undergraduate degree in Pharmacy and enjoyed a career as a community pharmacist and palliative care pharmacist before concentrating on her writing career.
Vanda has been involved with the New Zealand Society of Authors for many years, having been chair of the Otago Southland Branch. She is currently the Otago Southland regional delegate on the NZSA Board. Vanda was also the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand.
When she isn’t writing, Vanda can be found digging around in her garden in Dunedin, or on the business end of a fencing foil. She has fenced since high school and still competes in national and international competitions. As well as competing she coaches, and because she likes to get involved, boots and all, is the president of Fencing South and on the board of Fencing New Zealand.
Vanda is a founding member of the Dunedin Crime Writers Association, whose raison d’etre is for its members to drink beer or wine and talk crime writing at their favourite pub.
Overkill by Vanda Symon is out now in ebook and available from Amazon UK and Amazon US. It will be released in paperback on 6th September 2018.