Source: Review copy
Publication: 18 March 2021 from Orenda Books
My thanks to the publisher for an early copy for review
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 don’t think I have ever loved Sam Shephard more. I feel like a proud godmother who has watched her god-child turn to adulthood; looking at her and thinking ‘our little girl has grown up and what a fine woman she has become’.
Oh she still enjoys a glass of wine, a good video and a serious Toffeepops snack with her bestie flat-mate Maggie, but a combination of personal and professional events has matured her somewhat and though she has lost none of her gumption, there’s a definite tinge of maturity to her these days.
Newly promoted to Detective in Dunedin, she’s still seeing her boyfriend, Paul who is working in the same team. She’s not getting on any better with her boss, D.I. Johns and since his accident, Smithy whom she got on with really well, has been remote and bad-tempered. So she’s lost an ally and as a result feels a bit more isolated.
Family problems and a fractious relationship with her mum aren’t helping and the case the team are working on is really nasty. A local businessman, John Henderson, has been shot dead and his wife Jill left injured, both discovered at home by their teenage son, Declan. Sam is family liaison duties trying to get information from Declan and the injured wife.
Sam’s torn between sympathy for the wife and needing to get as much detail as possible, all the while knowing that at the same hospital her family are sitting at her dad’s bedside. The trouble is that when she visits him, her mum is constantly biting her ear; tearing her off a strip. Sam feels isolated and emotional, so she pushes all her efforts into her work and solving the case.
There are two suspects who fit the bill nicely, and the team are convinced that they have the evidence they need to tie this case up neatly. But Sam’s not quite so sure and she is prepared to burn her bridges with D.I.Johns to get to the truth.
This is the Sam we know and love. Determined, prepared to stand her ground and brave enough to say what she thinks even if that opens her up to ridicule. She is in the police because she believes in justice and she’s going to make sure that’s what she delivers. Sam is nothing if not tenacious.
As ever Vanda Symon’s sense of place and atmosphere creates a vivid mental picture for the reader and you can picture Dunedin and feel its vibrancy and the lush varied nature that abounds. Even a short trip to Auckland provokes the contrast that we need to understand how Dunedin contrasts with a larger city. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be anywhere as much as I want to visit Dunedin right now.
After a stunning opener to hook you right in, short, sharp chapters keep you fixed on the narrative and a tight, twisty plot coupled with Sam’s own emotional journey engages and consumes the brain to the exclusion of anything else.
Verdict: I loved Bound. It feels like Sam has reached a really interesting crossroads in her personal and professional development and I can’t wait to find out where she chooses to go next.
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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