Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.
Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.
What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea . . . a diver who didn’t die of drowning.
As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know from my reviews of Overkill and The Ringmaster that I’ve been a fan of Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard series since the start. Set in New Zealand and with the gloriously unconventional Sam at its heart, the series to date has produced two solidly-crafted and immensely enjoyable police procedurals.
Containment, the latest book in the series to hit UK shores, provides more of the tightly-plotted action that fans of the series have come to enjoy. Opening with a bang when a container ship washes up on the shores of Aramoana, Sam is thrown into the action when she’s assaulted, seemingly at random, by a scavenger. The discovery of a human skull at the same site, followed shortly afterwards by the finding of the body of a diver, adds more and more layers to an increasingly complex case for Sam.
As with previous books in the series, Containment balances the slower-paced procedural sections with moments of heightened tension and action to keep the momentum going and the pages turning. Vanda Symons really is a master of intelligent twists and watertight plotting and, without giving any of the plot away, Containment has a satisfyingly tense conclusion that may make it the best one of the series yet!
The other major delight of this series for me is Sam Shepard herself. Sarcastic and stubborn, Sam is whip-smart and deadpan funny. I adore her banter with her fellow cops and her late-night chats with her long-suffering roommate Maggie. This isn’t to say that Sam doesn’t have her issues, however! In a new and somewhat tentative relationship with a fellow police officer, Sam’s emotional intelligence is sometimes a little…lacking in tact shall we say! And although hostilities with her sour-faced bully of a boss have descended from all-out war, there’s no sign of a truce being brokered anytime soon.
But Sam is such a well-rounded and endearingly human character that I’d defy anyone not to be charmed by her – I love her spiky wit and her dogged determination, even if I sometimes cringed at her actions or choice of words. And, whilst knowledge of the first two books in the series certainly isn’t a requirement to enjoy Conviction, I love how Sam as a character is maturing and developing as the series progresses – and how the relationships she has with those around her alter too.
Fans of a well-crafted police procedural will enjoy wrestling with the tightly-plotted mystery, whilst mystery-thriller fans will get a kick out of the tension, action, and unfolding drama as the case progresses. Plus you get the benefit of some armchair travel to a beach in New Zealand – albeit one that is littered with cargo containers (and possibly a dead body)!
Highly recommended, Conviction is an accomplished addition to an already impressive series and I look forward to reading about whatever Sam Shepard gets up to next.
Conviction by Vanda Symon is published by Orenda Books and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers including the Orenda ebook store, Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository, and Amazon – as well as from your local independent bookstore!
My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour. The tour continues until the end of the month so do check out other stops for more reviews and content!