Shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, Overkill is Vanda Symon’s debut featuring police constable Sam Shephard and promises to be a strong series.

With the natural setting intriguing to readers unfamiliar with the area, this New Zealand procedural starts off with a bang with the disappearance of a young mother.

The reader knows more than the police in this case, and what is first deemed a suicide is quickly ferreted out to be a murder. The chilling opening creates a picture of a young mother desparate to save her child and is all the ore compelling for what she is forced to endure.

For Sam, the knowledge that there is a killer in the small town of Mataura is compounded by the victim being the wife of Sam’s former lover. With a young child left behind complicating matters, Sam is determined to find the killer, especially after her invovlement and close ties finds her suspended from duty and on the list of suspects.

Sam has a no-nonsense approach to policing that makes her a feisty woman on a mission and also her a prime candidate to carry a series that weaves together the unusual rural landscape with the harsh realities of gossip that is small-town life. Sam must face prejudice and ignorance as she realizes that people she’s known her entire life must be involved in the young mother’s murder.

With the tension mounting, Sam and those close to her will find themselves in danger as the stakes rise higher and higher. An accomplished debut.