A ripper of a series

September 15, 2011

Bound, by Vanda Symon (Penguin, RRP $30):

This is the fourth book in the Detective Sam Shepherd murder mystery series and I’m pleased to report that they just get better and better.

I have read two of the other three (Overkill, the very first book, is still on my “must-track-down-and-read” list) and each time the main character becomes more and more believable and the stories with all their twists and dramas become more and more intriguing.

Set in Dunedin, these stories have a fantastic Kiwi flavour and it’s great to see a New Zealand author showing the world that we can turn out murder mysteries that rival anything else out there.

This story kicks off with the aftermath of a brutal murder.

A woman is tied to a chair and gagged; her husband has been murdered and she must wait for her son to come home to discover this violent scene.

This brutal home invasion shocks the nation and the pressure is on Sam and her colleagues to find out who murdered this man and why.

However, the body count grows and so does the level of mystery as they race to find the killer.

As in the earlier books, the story is a comfortable mix of Sam’s personal life and her work life, and the often strained relationships involved in both.

The plot twists are quite clever and even if you’re pretty good at picking the culprit in most murder mysteries, you’ll be scratching your head for a good while as you read this one. I wasn’t 100 per cent convinced after reading the last book in the series, Containment, because I felt that some of the locations in the story would probably confuse anyone not familiar with the geography and/or idiosyncracies of this part of the world (for example, how many non-Kiwis would understand that the Octagon is Dunedin’s city centre without it being explained) but this time around everything seemed to flow more comfortably, from the geography to the characters and their interactions.

Sam Shepherd is a tough-talking Kiwi chick who is becoming more and more three- dimensional with every book.

I’m really looking forward to the next instalment.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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