Review: Bound, by Vanda Symon


The passionate, young police officer Sam Shephard returns in a taut, atmospheric and compelling police procedural, which sees her take matters into her own hands when the official investigation into the murder of a local businessman fails to add up…

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.

My Review

Thanks to Anne for arranging this blog tour and to Karen at Orenda for my physical copy of the book.

The Rosie Synopsis

Sam Shephard is not having a good time. Her dad is dying, her partner Paul has taken a job in Dunedin, working in the same team as her, and a man has just been shot to death.

It seems obvious, the nastiest pieces of work in Dunedin’s criminal underworld fit the description of the murderers and when DNA and fingerprint evidence is found it seems an open and shut case. The men were business partners in crime. Maybe the victim played them?

But then the suspects die and everyone is baffled.

Sam is starting to have her doubts, and when their widows come to her begging for help, convinced their husbands were utterly innocent of the murder, and providing new evidence, Sam has to take them seriously, even if no one else does.

The Good

Oh, my, Vanda, you did it again! I sat and read from cover to cover in a short afternoon. I’m utterly speechless, stricken even. The case was fascinating. Everyone is so desperate to blame Mr Big and the Cockroach that they never even look at the witness’s story. The prejudices against the criminals is (understandably) so strong that even when they’re telling the truth for once no one believes them, and they automatically discount their wives as anything more than battered women doing as they’re told, no agency of their own. Sam listens, empathetically, even after they shout, scream and punch her.

The sub-plots, of Jock’s slow decline and eventual death, and the shocking news that Sam is pregnant, gives the story a poignancy and pain that counterbalances the excitement and stress of the main narrative. I desperately want to cry for fictional characters. I do not like Sam’s mum, at all.

I loved the descriptions of Dunedin and Auckland, Sam (and I suspect Vanda Symon’s) discomfort in the ‘big city’ is palpable, but nice tackle Shep. I really want to visit New Zealand, I always do after reading Symon’s books. It’s a strange/familiar sort of place. Also, they have volcanoes.

This book was originally published in 2011, and has been re-edited for new markets and new times, although occasional things slip through, (yes, I know it was only a decade ago, but things in technology change in ten years) like the reference to an android phone with lots of apps as though it were a novelty. Clearly the text has been updated and the job done very well.

The Not-So-Good

The story left things hanging with Smithy. Did he do it or not?

The Verdict

Absolutely loved it. Any more Sam Shephard books in the works?


The latest in the bestselling Sam Shephard series, which has been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh award and the CWA New Blood Dagger
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.

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