Review: Containment, by Vanda Symon

Pub date: 5 March 2020
ISBN: 978-1-913193-19-5
EPUB: 978-1-913193-20-1
Price: £8.99
Dunedin’s favourite young police officer Sam Shephard is drawn into a
perplexing investigation when a series of shipping containers wash up on
a sleepy New Zealand beach, and a spate of unexplained deaths
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
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…

My Review

Thanks to Karen and Anne at Orenda Books for organising this blog tour and for sending me a copy of this book. I met Vanda Symon at Harrogate last year, she’s a lovely woman. She signed my copy of her first Sam Shepard book, Overkill. I also met her at the Orenda Roadshow 2020 in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, where she signed the copy of The Ringmaster that I bought there. Containment is the only one of her books that I don’t have signed, because taking it to Southwell would have meant taking it out of order and I can’t take books out of order in the reviewing pile or I get confused.

This is the first Sam Shephard book that I have read, even though I have all three. My schedule has been took packed for me to read the first two before reading this one. However, this was not a problem. There’s just enough background to understand what’s happening and make the reader want to go back to read the first two. The story stands alone very well.

Sam’s voice is very clear. She’s slightly mad, very confused by love and is devoted to her job. Her position as the youngest D.C. in Dunedin, with a D.I. who can’t stand her and colleagues who are suspicious about her ‘queue jumping’, make life extra complicated, while her love affair with Paul is supposed to be easy, until he makes things complicated. I think she’s a marvellous character, there’s something of the author in her voice and manner.

The setting of Dunedin and Aramoana on the North Island of New Zealand, is vividly brought to life. Never been there but it felt like I was on the beach looking at the looting and driving around the city in the winter rain with Sam. The writing certainly tasted authentic, in terms of speech patterns and culture.

I really enjoyed the plot, an did not realise who the perpetrator was until it was revealed, but it made complete sense when it was. I found the subplot of Sam’s personal life gave depth to the story and told the reader something about her family background and hangups. I don’t like her mum very much.

Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable novel, and I’m going to read the first two just as soon as I get some space in my schedule.

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 also been
shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently
lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons

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