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(Sam Shephard #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  611 ratings  ·  114 reviews
Sam Shephard, a young sole-charge police constable in Mataura, is the main character in a new series of crime novels set in New Zealand. When a young mother in the town is brutally murdered (it seems to be a professional job), Sam is at the heart of the police hunt to find the killer. But then Sam's past relationship with the dead woman's husband is revealed. Sam is stood ...more
ebook, 324 pages
Published 2007 by Penguin
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Average rating 3.78  · 
Rating details
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Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: blog-tour, 2018
Atmospheric! Dark! Beautiful!

This is the first book in a crime thriller series that takes place in New Zealand... first off I loved the setting! The book made me feel as though I had journeyed to New Zealand, and was in this small rural village... The descriptions and vernacular seemed so authentic.... Love when a book takes you away from reality for a little while...

This book starts out with a huge BAM!!! A prologue that will leave you speechless and suck you completely into the story.... Sam
Constable Sam Shepard had her sparkling dreams of becoming a detective one day and serve her small New Zealand community to the best of her abilities. That was, before her ex-boyfriend's wife was found on the banks of the Mataura River, and she herself became a suspect. She would soon discover that small communities had a mean streak with bigger, nasty nails than a Bengal tiger.

Standing slightly more than five feet in her shoes, she had a lot to prove, and had her innocence to rip from the crue
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
First, I want to say that no, you shouldn't pick books because of covers. Second, I just LOVE this cover. So, ignore what I said first. Especially if you like a good crime novel because this is a book that has both a great story AND great cover!

OVERKILL is the first book in Sam Shephard series. Sam is a young cop that is called to a house in which a young woman has disappeared from. A suicide note has been found and soon after the body of the woman is found. An easy case, or not. Sam is not
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gripping mystery, set in New Zealand, is by a new, talented writer, Vanda Symon. She displays a vivid sense of place, a small rural community in decline which conceals an ugly, underlying crime with worldwide economic repercussions.

I was immediately drawn in by the startling, tension-packed beginning which was quite upsetting. The protagonist is a young, rookie policewoman, Sam Shephard, tiny in stature but tough. She is a well written, relatable character. She is the sole law enforcement
Liz Barnsley
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Atmospheric sense of place in this murder mystery which features an excellent main protagonist. Review for the tour.
Laura Rash
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
GIVE ME MORE!! I finished this book & literally ran to figure out how I could read more from VS! A great version of a police procedural with a different twist. The characterization was amazing! Once again, another no bookmark needed book from Orenda!
Thanks so much to Orenda for this free copy:)
Dec 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
We've got this little dog... Jedda is a 3 year old Australian terrier female. She's short, red-golden haired, extremely independent, determined to the point of obsession, friendly but can switch quickly into extreme bolshie and she is absolutely and utterly incapable of stepping away from an argument. She's the sort of dog that will continue the fight after she's been physically picked up and carried away from the conflict point. I suspect if I'd read OVERKILL before we'd got that dog, there wou ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read crime thrillers set in many different countries, but until now, none that have been set in New Zealand. Visiting the country has been on my bucket list forever but until I can achieve that, reading a book set there is the next best thing!

The prologue to Overkill had me in bits, it was just so chilling and calculated in its execution – literally! I just can’t imagine what would go through your mind in those circumstances. That has to be one of the strongest beginnings to a crime story t
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book started out fast paced and with an unusual beginning, but sadly went downhill from there, with the main character. In the book more concerned with her previous relationship with the dead woman's husband and her own personal life that with the plot. The book dragged in the middle and became boring. ...more
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: june-2018
Before I rave about the contents of Vanda Symon’s Overkill I want to quickly mention the cover. I’m ashamed to admit that I often judge a book by its cover and Orenda are well known for their stunning book jackets. However, with Overkill they have really outdone themselves. I could look at it for hours it is just so stunning! I would happily have this on my wall. But I’m here to discuss the inside of the book, not the outside.
Without doubt Overkill will be on my final ‘books of the year’ list as
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As soon as you read the first page, you’re hooked! Overkill has a killer opening, emphasis on ‘killer’ – the prologue to this novel ensures it grabs your full attention, it emotionally involves you from the offset. It also excites you from the offset because it sets the scene for an interesting story, and you immediately find out just how engaging Symon’s writing is.

Let’s talk setting, I haven’t read a novel set in New Zealand before, let alone visited the country, but after finishing this novel
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, sam-shepard
I found this a rather enjoyable read about a small town policewoman being caught up in something much much larger. The plot twists came thick and fast, and while I questioned adding in a subplot, they came together deliciously in an explosive climax. I was saddened by the lack of any real resolution, but I will have to read the next in this series.
LJ (On The Shelf Reviews)
Rounded up from 4.5

Constable Sam Shephard is the sole police officer in the town of Mataura so when a young mum Gabriella Knowes goes missing it’s up to her to find out what happened to her. One problem, the woman is the wife of her former boyfriend Lockie, a man who she still has feelings for.

When Gabriella’s body is found at the side of the river, dead from an apparent suicide, something doesn’t feel right to Sam. She soon finds evidence that Gabriella has been murdered and has to call in the
Craig Sisterson
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Overkill marked a bold beginning for a new voice, and a new hero, in crime fiction. Former pharmacist and Dunedin-based debutant author Vanda Symon wastes no time, immediately stunning readers with an opening-pages haymaker, as an intruder forces a stay-at-home mother to submit to her own death, in order to save her baby daughter.

Soon after, sole-charge rural policewoman Sam Shepherd finds herself co-ordinating the search for the missing mother, and then investigating the looks-like suicide drow
Donna Maguire

This was a really enjoyable story, I loved Sam as the lead character and I warmed to her straight away. I thought she was excellent and was rooting for her throughout the story as the developments came through in the case.

This book flowed really well for me and I was able to pick it up and jump straight back in to the story after leaving it for a few hours. I loved the writing style and how the story progressed to the ending.

Four stars from me for this one
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
I can't remember a murder mystery opening chapter with more impact or (view spoiler)
I felt there were pacing problems in the middle & I don't know how long it took Symons to get published as it seemed longer ago than 2007. Still felt like small town NZ - just from a time slightly earlier than that though.
Ending tied everything together very well & I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series.
Sooz (P.Turners Book Blog)
** Full review to come as part of blog tour **
Jacob Collins
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a book comes along which you just want to shout from the rooftops about, and Overkill for me is that book. I’d heard many great things about it so my expectations were high and they were certainly met. I’m going to be pressing this book into the hands of everyone who I know who loves crime fiction. This is one of the best introductions to a new crime series that I have read. As I was reading the prologue, I was just staring wide-eyed at the page, completely engrossed by the character’s ...more

Visit the settings in the book

An exciting new start to a new series set in New Zealand. Sam Shephard, is a young police constable in Mataura with a lot on her plate.  A young mother in the town is brutally murdered ( and it seems to be a professional job), so she is part of the team who will find the killer. But what is Sam's past relationship with the dead woman's husband? Oh this just got twistier and twistier as I read. Evocative and memorable are not the words. Sam is a strong character and
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overkill certainly starts with a blood-pressure-raising prologue which kick-starts a solid police procedural.

Overkill is really well written and the descriptions of small-town New Zealand were fresh and evocative. The pace for me did slow down a little early on while we waited for the police to catch up with what we already knew, but that gave us a chance to get to know the town and the characters.

PC Sam Shephard really made this book for me: she is a practical, likeable and very human lead char
Chris Meehan
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
This book pleasantly surprised me with the intensity of the murder to set the reader off, and then the actual reason for the murder. I enjoyed the very Kiwi vernacular and the addition of some swearing from both sexes, in that special Kiwi way, as I relate well to swearing those same words quite naturally. Some aspects of the writing annoyed me somewhat. The main character was tough but when she broke down it was a bit ridiculous. Will look for another by the same author to see how she is improv ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have travelled the world thanks to my literary choices over the years; it’s something I love to do. Reading about a place far from home is always interesting and exciting – a different way of living, different cultures. Until recently I had not managed to make my bookish way to New Zealand. Australia, yes. New Zealand, no. However, thanks to Overkill I can now add a New Zealand stamp to my literary passport as this delightful piece of crime fiction is set in Mataura.

I am a huge fan of books se
Julie Morris
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So, this is my first book in the new genre of New Zealand Noir and anyone thinking that this is just another label and that it isn’t really anything different from standard crime needs to read it as, having devoured the book, it is quite clear that the location is extremely distinctive and a very important element in the novel – this book and the plot could not have been set anywhere else in order to have worked.

The book is set in a small, rural town in a remote corner of New Zealand – the Kiwi
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Look! Look at that cover! Isn't it stunning? I love it so much, and it exactly depicts the contents of the pages inside. Honestly, that oppressive dark cloud is just the perfect visual depiction of this extraordinary story.

It's been a long time since a prologue hooked me in quite the way that this one does. The reader is thrust, smack bang, into the centre of the horrifying incident that forms the central plot in this novel.
It's unforgiving in its brutality, but the violence is almost unspoken,
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
A great introduction to the world of NEW ZEALAND Noir (set in Mataura)

Constable Sam Shepherd is the police presence in Mataura, a real life small town at the base of New Zealand’s South Island. Gaby, the wife of Lockie – a former lover of Sam’s – is found dead. The death is very cleverly made to look like suicide, but she had been murdered. Sam starts the investigation, but is hampered by her feelings towards Lockie. Her bosses in Dunedin find out about her past, and she is taken off the case. I
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved loved loved this book! It is exactly the kind of thing I adore to read – great setting, great atmosphere and a kick-ass leading lady. The opening chapter completely and utterly chilled me to the bone, and seeing as I read it during the big 2018 heat wave, that is a feat that needs to recognised! Vanda Symon opens with a murder, it’s cold blooded, horrifying and utterly, utterly chilling. I think what made it even more body shuddering for me, was the fact that the victim, Gaby, has a daug ...more
I really wanted to love this book but I'm afraid it turned out to be a somewhat average read. There's nothing especially bad about it but there's nothing to make it stand out from all of the other police procedural / murder mysteries out there.

I did like the setting, I'm struggling to think of any other books I've read set in New Zealand, and I thought the opening was fantastic, it's edge of your seat stuff, but it becomes a little slow in the middle and I'm really not sure about main character
3.5 stars

Read an article in Mystery Scene magazine about Australian/New Zealand writers so I purchased a few based on this article.

Book #1 of Constable Sam Shephard. Shepherd is the only law in Mataura NZ. She is called to investigate a missing person case of a young woman - wife and mother - with her former partner. When the woman's body is found, Sam investigates as a suicide but evidence points to murder. Sam is taken off the case as a possible suspect but she has to keep searching for the ki
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book because it was refreshing to read a book set in New Zealand. Great writing and characters.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lockie and Gaby Knowes are a happily married couple living a peaceful life with their daughter in a small New Zealand town called Mataura. One day Lockie comes home to find Gaby missing. She has left their daughter alone with a note that indicates she has committed suicide. Sam Shephard, sole police presence in Mataura, immediately sets about the search for Gaby. When her body is discovered in the river behind their house all signs confirm Gaby’s death as a suicide, however, her husband and moth ...more
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