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OverKill

Published Date: 1st February 2018

Available in

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EBook
9781912374281
£5.99
30 June 2018
Paperback
9781912374274
£8.99
6 September 2018
Audiobook
Coming Soon

Description

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic 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 duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer … and clear her name.
A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.

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‘Vanda Symon is part of a new wave of Kiwi crime writers … her talent for creating well-rounded characters permeates throughout’ Crimewatch

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‘A sassy heroine, fabulous sense of place, and rip-roaring stories with a twist’ Kate Mosse

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With The Dry author Jane Harper leading a fresh crop of distinctive antipodean writers, we could have a new genre: Southern Cross noir. And a prime example is Overkill by Vanda Symon (Orenda, £8.99), which opens in alarming fashion as a woman is forced by a terrifying hitman to kill herself in the presence of her child … The tensions within a tightknit village, along with various aspects of Kiwi society, are laid out with real authority, but it is Symon’s copper Sam, self-deprecating and very human, who represents the writer’s real achievement. Barry Forshaw, The Guardian 

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‘Deep in the New Zealand backwoods, young constable Sam discovers a murder — but the dead victim is her ex’s wife, and before the case is solved she will find herself under suspicion from the community and her colleagues. Lively evocation of small-town life, with a plot that grabs the reader’s attention with a heart-stopping opening and doesn’t let go.’ Overkill was recommended in the Times Crime Club

 

Author

Vanda Symon (born 1969) 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 hit 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.

Online Reviews

‘The plot is perfectly paced with twists and turns that constantly keep you on the back foot. Prepare to be constantly second guessing and looking at everyone with suspicion. The small community setting aids this perfectly with a cast of characters who all potentially have something to hide. Secrets and lies abound as Sam tries to get to the bottom of the murder. Overkill is a real page turner with shocks and surprises throughout … With a twisty plot, a protagonist who shines and beautifully written observations of the cruellest things, Overkill is crime fiction at its best and this is an outstanding book. I predict that this series is going to soar here in the UK and it deserves to. I adored this book and can’t wait for the next in the series. If you read and enjoy crime fiction, you will adore it too’ Kiwi Crime

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Overkill is recommended as a ‘new and ripping read’ Murder Mayhem and More

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Overkill features short, snappy chapters, which move the plot forwards at a fast pace, with great literary writing. Tension and emotion spill out of every page, and I found myself whizzing through from beginning to end. I genuinely couldn’t stop reading, addicted not only to the gripping twisty plot but also to its great sense of place and range of believable characters – a perfect combination. I don’t rave about many books, but this one prompted a few raving tweets and is certainly one that I’ll be recommending widely. The Sam Shepherd series isn’t new – the books have been around for a decade in New Zealand but have slipped under the radar, until now. This is the first to be published by Orenda Books, and it has been ‘lovingly and beautifully rewritten’. Now I’m desperately waiting for the next one! And I can’t wait for other people to discover Overkill‘s brilliance too’ Off the Shelf Books

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‘The plot is perfectly paced with twists and turns that constantly keep you on the back foot. Prepare to be constantly second guessing and looking at everyone with suspicion. The small community setting aids this perfectly with a cast of characters who all potentially have something to hide. Secrets and lies abound as Sam tries to get to the bottom of the murder. Overkill is a real page turner with shocks and surprises throughout. The sense of place is created well and the reader is completely transported to New Zealand. The setting shines through via Symon’s prose and it also ensures that the crime is unique in the reasons behind it, making it totally original. With a twisty plot, a protagonist who shines and beautifully written observations of the cruellest things, Overkill is crime fiction at its best and this is an outstanding book. I predict that this series is going to soar here in the UK and it deserves to. I adored this book and can’t wait for the next in the series. If you read and enjoy crime fiction, you will adore it too’ Crime Watch

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‘It is nice to see characters that aren’t just skin deep. I liked Sam and think I see a lot of opportunities for this character. She has a good ability and I liked that she isn’t the typical woman police officer that you see a lot of in books. The setting was also very good as I hadn’t read a book set in New Zealand before so getting to hear the descriptions was so good and makes me want to visit. This is a wonderful start to a new series and looking forward to more to come’ Sean’s Book Reviews

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‘The twists and turns throughout kept me on the edge of my seat, I was second and third guessing everyone until I was utterly confused! The pace of the book is fast enough to keep you reading, the pages just kept on turning. The sense of humour that is injected into the book had me chuckling away to myself, it’s a dry, sarcastic sense of humour, my favourite kind! Overkill was just utterly fantastic, right from the gruesome start I was hooked and I fell in love with Sam. The atmosphere created in the book is tense and suspenseful, I was looking over my shoulder at times and biting my nails. Compelling and addictive, a brilliant start to what could be an epic series’ Katie’s Book Cave

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‘Oh My God! The opening chapter in this book was just so powerful and such a tense, emotionally fraught beginning that compelled me to just keep on reading. This crime fiction novel set in a remote area of New Zealand is going on my list of best crime novels from this year … Fantastic writing. Pure quality. The characters felt very real and the descriptions of the local area were rich and atmospheric in detail. I loved Sam’s character, her attitude to life and her sense of humour. Completely addictive and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series’ Mrs Bloggs Books

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‘I haven’t raved and gushed about this book like I sometimes do because it didn’t invoke those reactions in me. However, what it did do was keep me reading and I almost read it in one sitting. It’s well written and realistic and although my only knowledge of New Zealand is from the stunning landscapes in Lord of the Rings I could clearly picture the town and the places it in. It’s a solid story, clearly well thought out and plotted and one that flows well throughout. The story ended well, one of those endings that could be a final ending but equally left the option for more to follow if there was another book and this is one I want to follow’ Book Lover Worm Blog

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OVERKILL is the type of book you can devour in one sitting. Symon’s writing is so smooth and flows effortlessly from chapter to chapter all the while maintaining the tension and suspense. It is the perfect balance of human interest and crime investigation … I wasn’t sure what to expect from Symon, but she has a new fan. Bring on the next book in the series. I am going to need my Sam Shepard fix soon’ Victoria Colotta

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Overkill is really well written and the descriptions of small-town New Zealand were fresh and evocative … PC Sam Shephard really made this book for me: she is a practical, likeable and very human lead character. She is smart and funny and ballsy. I could fully empathise with her feelings, thoughts and actions throughout. I really enjoyed her relationship with her flatmate Maggie and their banter and bickering produced some real laugh out loud moments, as did Sam’s narration, in an otherwise fairly serious book. I will be interested to see where Vanda Symons takes her next!’ Julia Palooza

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‘This book is a classic police procedural with an original twist: the main detective is actually one of the suspects. I read this book pretty quickly, as I finished it in a couple days. Overkill was smart, fast-paced and, something I’ve really come to appreciate: everything made sense and nothing felt out of place. This was a very staisfying read and, above all, a solid crime novel perfect for fans of the genre … Overkill has made me curious about this country. It’s so far away from mine that it seems like it could be another planet, but I’d love to visit it someday, it seems like such a fascinating area’ The Misstery

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Vanda takes part in the ‘Best of Crime’ series as part of the blog tour. Off The Shelf Books

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‘Sam Shepard is easy to like. A bit too outspoken now perhaps, which isn’t good when her career and life in freedom is at risk. But, she’s a good cop and she’s hellbent on finding the killer. The question is why would anyone want to kill a nice young mother. Sam has to dig deep to get some answers and the truth is truly surprising. There are also some really hilarious moments in the book, like for instance when Sam is trying to change a tire. I love it when in all seriousness there is a moment like that. Moments that make you smile. OVERKILL is a great book and I hope to get the chance of reading the rest of the books in the series’ Bookaholic Swede

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‘The atmosphere Vanda Symon has created is superb. You feel claustrophobic, hemmed in by the Mataura residents. You can almost taste the distrust that starts to move around the town when it becomes clear there is a killer amongst them. And that only builds when Sam has to fight to clear her own name. This is book one in a series and I cannot wait to read more. Vanda Symon has brought us an outstandingly written crime novel. Beautiful writing, fantastic plotting, plenty of red herrings (I love a good red herring) and a sassy, honest, endearing heroine. I enjoyed every second of ‘Overkill’ and I highly recommend it’ Emma’s Bookish Corner

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‘The story its self is excellently written and superbly plotted with enough misdirects and twists, to keep new fans happy. Especially rewarding is the reason for the murder, which comes out of left field and almost had me applauding its simplicity along with its potentially far reaching consequences. Overkill is what Symon has managed to avoid by delivering a concise and well-paced crime novel in no more than two hundred and seventy pages. For less than the standard over hyped big- name bestsellers, which seem to play more on substance than style. So, if you want a bright, funny and down to earth fresh faced detective to get behind as the nights start drawing in, then get down to your local book shop or download a copy’ The Library Door

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‘An engaging read with a likeable main character. The plot was terrific and very much related to the book’s New Zealand location. I enjoyed the rural setting with characters who quickly became familiar in this small town, as they congregated in the local pub. With some tense moments along the way and an ending to match the beginning – i.e with a bang this was a decent piece of crime fiction. The first in the series so I for one will be interested to see what Sam Shepherd does next’ I Loved Reading This

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‘It’s massively addictive and beautifully written; Vanda Symon writes in a style more akin to literary fiction prose and has a real gift. I tore through this one in a few hits of late night, adrenaline fuelled sittings. Sam Shepard is a great character and I loved the setting and it’s always a joy to discover writers from and stories set in countries I’d not yet ventured and I genuinely look forward to more in the series. In Overkill Vanda Symon has written something very special: an intense and powerful thriller told with a combination of prose and narrative that elevates her novel head and shoulders above the pack and makes it a serious contender for one of the year’s best reads’ Mumbling About

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Overkill moves at break-neck speed, plunging the reader and Sam into a mystery that is cleverly thought out and impeccably told. The tense atmosphere and the multiple twists and false leads make this a breathtaking and compelling read. The sense of place is amazing, this author has created a community that is close, yet divided; there’s a claustrophobic feeling about Mataura and its residents that adds such depth to the story. Sam Shephard is my new hero. She’s perfectly flawed and incredibly human. I can’t wait to find out what she gets up to next’ Random Things 

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‘The author’s style of storytelling is smooth and engaging, making Overkill very easy to read, which is enough to keep you cranking through the pages. The ending is a cracker. Things quickly fall into place, and Sam finds herself at the centre of a major conspiracy that could not only ruin the local farming economy, but could damage the entire country … We’ll look forward to the next in the series because with the author’s storytelling skills, the first is a pleasure to read’ Crime Fiction Lover

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‘The plot unfolds at a perfect rate – slowly enough to be realistic; police officers are only human after all; yet quickly enough to keep you interested. The chapters are short, with the end of each one leaving you hungry to begin the next. And it was only as the final conclusions were being drawn that for me, realisation of the plot unfolded. Despite my regular indulgence into this genre, both in book form and on TV, and despite working through each possible scenario carefully in my head in a bid to outfox the author, I didn’t see it coming. Now you can’t ask for much more than that in a crime story. Characters you care about, a plot thicker than school- dinner semolina, and a pace that picks you up, spins you round and drops you back down before you know what’s hit you. ‘Overkill‘ is one thing this book definitely isn’t’ Nic Perrins

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‘There is a serious side to Overkill and Symon balances this nicely with the humour and scattier side of Sam. Overkill is a murder mystery where a woman has died, and Gaby’s death is treated with respect, from the trauma of the young man who found her body, to the documenting of the prioritising of male voices that led to some of the grief Gaby was experiencing while she was alive. And in Sam’s development through the novel as she comes to appreciate Gaby’s worth as “a wife, mother and human being”. So, a highly recommended New Zealand murder mystery, with a complex New Zealand plot, great Kiwi characters, a solution that shakes the very foundations of New Zealand rural identity and a firebrand of a series character in Sam Shephard, read it!’ Crime Watch

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‘A rawly realistic, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining crime novel set in a small New Zealand town … The prologue is absolutely riveting, the first few sentences fell like a sledge hammer, nailing my concentration to the page. Sam is as fabulous as a main character could be, gutsy, down-to-earth, likeable, I could reach out and touch her feelings, empathise with her. Vanda Symon writes with a beautiful simplicity, not once overplaying her hand, she took me completely and entirely into the storyline. The Sam Shephard series has been on the New Zealand best seller list and shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel and I can see why. I highly recommend ‘Overkill’, it is powerful, cooly assured, and an absolute belter of a read’ Love Reading

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‘For me Overkill was a quick, but enjoyable read. I found the story to be well paced and interesting – I would say 90% of the crime fiction I read is set in major UK cities so the rural New Zealand setting was a nice change and appealed to the part of me that grew up in semi-rural Devon! I found Sam to be a really interesting character – I loved her determination to do what she wanted and not just settle for the life her parents expected her to have. She’s also got a really feisty personality, and won’t take things lying down; occasionally this gets her into trouble especially where senior officers are involved! I’m really hoping to discover more about her in future books!’ Sarah Withers Blog

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‘As a police procedural, much of the pace and atmosphere comes from the solving of the crime, rather than in the explosive set-piece ending, and Symon does that brilliantly … A controlled and pacy police procedural, Overkill is an accomplished debut with a fantastic heroine and a gripping, page-turning quality. A brilliant addition to Orenda’s already ‘jam-packed with awesome’ crime list, I’m hoping this won’t be the last we’ll see of Sam Shephard or Vanda Symon!’ The Shelf of Unread Books

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Vanda writes a guest post about the ‘teascape for her works’ as part of the Overkill blog tour. Page Turners Nook

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‘There’s a lot of stigma around thrillers needing huge, unpredictable plot twists these days, and I love a good plot twist as much as the next person, but this book doesn’t have that. I’m 110% not mad though, because it just didn’t need it. It is just very clever in itself. Fresh, gripping and all round wonderful; a real page-turner. Bookmark That approved!’ Bookmark That

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‘I need more Sam Shephard in my life please and thank you very much, she was refreshing and I want to see where she goes from here. I liked the setting of New Zealand, I’ve never been, but the images of farmlands and small towns with lots of green kind of made me think of Ireland but obviously hotter. Also I had The Hobbit for reference so that made it easy to picture the scenes and transport myself there. A really addictive read, short punchy chapters making you want to keep on reading, I didn’t want to put it down and I would love to read more. Highly recommended!’ Not Another Book Blogger

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‘I was stunned as to how fast the plot thickened; when I started reading, I had an idea as to where the story was heading, but I was shocked at a lot of revelations and unpredictable behaviour, reminding me of a firework, wondering when it will explode! This book will sure get your heart racing and blood pumping! An eerie crime quickly turns into a time-critical man hunt in this fast-paced thriller! I would recommend for fans of Ruth Ware and C. L. Taylor’ Books Beyond the Story

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‘The moments of humour really balance the darker aspects in this novel and I very much appreciated that. Life is full of dark and light and a book that captures that is a wonderful thing to find! I had no idea whodunnit until Sam was on the killer’s trail, it felt all the way through the book like I was along with her as she tried to put all the pieces together. I love that it kept me in suspense with all its twists and turns, and the red herrings along the way. This is such a compelling and readable book. Overkill is fast-paced, twisty and impossible to put down! I think this might be one of my favourite crime novels of the year and I’m sure it’s a book that will stay with me. I’ve definitely found a new favourite character in Sam! This is absolutely a five star read and I highly recommend it!’

Rather too Fond of Books

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Written in the first person, what really shines through in Symon’s writing is the characterisation. Sam is bull-headed and hot tempered; she knows she is setting herself up for conflict with her superiors and she doesn’t stop to care … As Sam treads her own investigative path, she ends up literally and metaphorically knee deep in shit as the tension rises and we fear for her safety as she makes one questionable decision after another. OverKill is written with pace and verve; it really flows well and is both engrossing and highly enjoyable. The characters stand out and I identified with Sam to the point that I was literally shouting at her to watch out as the final scenes played out … A great start to a series I want to read more of and a ballsy protagonist I already love to bits’ Live and Deadly

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‘Sam was a conundrum to me. On one hand, I found her totally relatable yet on the other she struck me almost as a stroppy teenager at times, almost more caught up in her own feelings about her relationship with Lockie than the murder of his wife. I totally applauded her decision to ignore the instruction from above to stay away from the investigation yet at times there was a real sense of Sam feeling out her depth both in terms of having to deal with an investigation of this nature but also her underlying feelings for Lockie … An intriguing debut from the author that has taken me on a fascinating journey to New Zealand and I definitely look forward to seeing where Vanda Symon takes us next in the series’ Chapter in my Life

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‘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’ If Only I Could Read Faster

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‘This was a really enjoyable story, I loved Sam as the lead character and I warmed to her straight away. I thought she was excellent and was rooting for her throughout the story as the developments came through in the case. This book flowed really well for me and I was able to pick it up and jump straight back in to the story after leaving it for a few hours. I loved the writing style and how the story progressed to the ending. Four stars from me for this one, definitely an author in going to be looking out for and I loved the insight in to New Zealand, a fabulous setting for the book and that cover is amazing!!’ Donna’s Book Blog

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‘Why would I recommend his book? Because it is a superb read, written by an emerging New Zealand talent, who if the world is fair will draw a huge following in Britain. The characterisation is top notch, with a strong female lead whose vulnerability is neither overwhelming nor disabling for the story or the character herself. She is determined and written so well, that a series of books featuring Sam will be something I hope will be published in this country as well. This is an exciting and intelligent read that If you love thrillers should be your next purchase’

Books Are My Cwtches

Reviews