However, I was fortunate enough to get an advance review copy of BOUND a couple of weeks ago. Mark Broatch of the Sunday Star-Times had earlier this year singled out the BOUND as a 'book to read' in 2011, and as Sam Shephard has become one of my favourite crime fiction protagonists over the first three books of the series, I was certainly looking forward to the read myself. And it did not disappoint. Not one iota. It's a terrific crime novel, full of verve, energy and life (even amongst the loss of it, so to speak).
Here's the publisher's blurb: "A brutal home invasion shocks the nation. A man is murdered, his wife bound, gagged and left to watch.
But when Detective Sam Shephard scratches the surface, the victim, a successful businessman, is not all he seems to be. And when the evidence points to two of Dunedin's most hated criminals, the case seems cut and dried... until the body count starts to rise.
Meanwhile, Sam is in big trouble again…"
You can read an extract of BOUND here,
Symon maintains the high standards of the overall series - the personality-packed characters and narrative, the visual storytelling and nice touches of humour amidst the mystery - while at the same time bringing a few surprises to the reader, in both character and plot. I found it a compelling, riveting read. Excuse the cliches - but they're appropriate here. It was a one-sitting book for me - with the only disappointment being that I'd now have to wait many months for a new Vanda Symon tale. As an author she's raised her already high standards, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next. I understand she is now working on a "darker" standalone thriller, taking a (hopefully short) break from Sam and her Dunedin adventures.
I will hopefully write a full review of BOUND at some stage soon, and share it with you all here on Crime Watch, if possible. But in the meantime take my word for it - find a way to buy yourself a copy of BOUND, you won't regret it if you like lively and well-written detective fiction. Or if you want a second opinion, here's that of my fellow book blogger and Ngaio Marsh Award judge Graham Beattie, who said on his blog earlier this week: "I read a lot of crime fiction and I really rate Symon as up there among the best with this latest novel..."
You can read Beattie's full comments here, and Vanda Symon's own thoughts on her book launch here. It's great to see New Zealand crime fiction kick off so strongly in 2011. Hopefully there is plenty more to come.
Those in the upper North Island should also grab a copy of tomorrow's Weekend Herald, and take a squiz at the books section of the Canvas magazine, where you can get a Vanda Symon fix to ameliorate missing the book launch. My first author feature article for the Weekend Herald this year is on our very own modern-day Queen of Kiwi crime. So make sure you grab a copy.