I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Containment by Vanda Symon
Published by Orenda Books Limited on January 5th 2020
Genres: Crime, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Mystery & Detective, Police Procedural
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Vanda Symon's third novel features the feisty young policewoman Sam Shephard who was the central character in her two previous books Overkill and The Ringmaster. In Containment, Sam is training as a detective at Dunedin Central when she is assigned to investigate what seems to be a routine diving accident off the Otago coast. But the forensics reveal that the man didn't die from drowning. And that the body was stuffed in its wetsuit after death. And is there a connection with another incident Sam is involved with, in which the citizens of Dunedin have been pillaging the wreckage of a container ship out at the harbour entrance? As the novel unfolds, our young detective is involved in making sense of a complex web of lies and violence. Who is behind it all? Who are the real criminals?
Just when you felt like the Crime Fiction genre was becoming over populated with not much variation or uniqueness to the storyline…BANG. Containment. Vanda Symon hits you straight between the eyes for a killer blow. It was a refreshing change to be transported some idyllic. You know what they say – a change is as good as a rest. Aramoana Beach. Just uttering those words feels tranquil. Set the scene. Golden sands, turquoise seas, glittering horizons, the sun beating down on your chest, the warmth between your toes. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? Be prepared to have that dream shattered when a cargo ship blights that landscape. Things get out of control when rational human beings start to loot, start to become violent. Things get out of hand. Oh, but if you try to maintain the law, you get the living crap kicked out of you. Let me introduce to you, Sam Shepherd.
Containment is the building blocks of betrayal and grief. With two deep motivators it is extremely refreshing to have some necessary humour injected into its essence. Sam doesn’t take herself too seriously and I had moments of laughing when I wasn’t sure it was appropriate to do so. The author makes you grapple with the two extremes of devastation and hope.
Sam is a DC with the Dunedin police force. She’s competent, motivated and will do anything to get the job done. She’s a girl after my own heart, she tends to self-sabotage her own life, but the stubbornness is strong in this one. Sometimes all she needs is a good talking to. Brilliant professionally, not so great personally.
The plot was watertight. A body has been discovered off the island, appearances suggests it’s been submerged some time. The body isn’t in good condition and they are going to need some good luck to extract a fingerprint to ID the body. Sam’s ability to rub up her superiors the wrong was as led to this fun excursion. DI Johns is a mean, grumpy old stickler and I’ve found myself growing an ever-increasing distaste of his methods. The troubling relationship was written authentically without forcing the information on the reader.
Containment often felt like a fog descending. The twists kept on creeping up when you least expected it. Little niggles, a finely painted parallel, the author grabs you by the jugular and fights to maintain control. The control the author held over me was immense. A magnet focussed on its target. Try as I may I was never going to put that book down. Containment was an assault on my senses. It was mystifying, and nothing was sugar-coated.
Containment is a lesson in vulnerability and tenacity. Blind alleys to trip you up and a beautiful vista to keep you guessing. Vanda Symon’s prose is to die for!
Thanks to Anne Cater @ Random Things Tours for my spot on the blog tour.
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.
Vanda is thrilled to have been shortlisted for a CWA New Blood Dagger award for her novel, Overkill. A CWA New Blood Dagger is an annual award given by the British Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) for first books by previously unpublished writers.