Wednesday, March 7, 2012

THE FACELESS by Vanda Symon

As an interviewer and reviewer, I have to remain as objective as possible when I'm reading, and writing about, crime fiction authors, evaluating each book on its merits. Having said that, every commentator will admit they have their favourite authors - as writers, as people, and as both. It's human nature.

It's always invigorating to try new books and authors, hoping to discover another standout to share with other readers, and add to our own personal 'must-read' list (for me, these are the authors that make you want to immediately go out and get hold of another of their books, even if you have a big pile of other books to read already). But it's also exciting when an author who's become one of those 'must-reads' has another book coming out.

One of the books I'm most looking forward to reading this year is THE FACELESS, the upcoming novel from Vanda Symon.

I've enjoyed all four of Symon's previous books set in the southern part of the South Island and starring rural sole-charge cop turned young city detective Sam Shephard, but I really felt Symon fully hit her stride with BOUND, the latest in the series. So I'm very excited to see what she has in store for readers this year with THE FACELESS, which is a standalone, darker crime novel set in Auckland.

I'm pleased to now share the cover for THE FACELESS (see above). Here's the official blurb:
Bradley is a middle-aged man trapped in middle-class New Zealand. He is in a job that he hates, working day after day to support his wife and two children. One day when it all gets too much, Bradley picks up a teenage hooker in downtown Auckland. Unfortunately he can't keep it up and then she laughs at him. That was a mistake. He beats her, ties her up and takes her to an abandoned warehouse that he owns. But then he doesn't know what to do.

Max is homeless. He eats from rubbish bins, bums cigarettes from anyone and anywhere, including the footpath, and he doesn't smell that fresh. But Max has one friend and she has gone missing. If he is to find her he is going to have to call on some people from his past life and re-open old wounds that have remained unhealed for a long time.

A hard-hitting and fast-paced thriller from Vanda Symon, New Zealand's 'Queen of Crime'.
As has been shown by other authors like Michael Connelly (THE POET, after several Harry Bosch novels), Linwood Barclay (NO TIME FOR GOODBYE, after four Zack Walker novels) and Harlan Coben (TELL NO ONE, after several Myron Bolitar novels), it can be a good thing for a crime writer to release a darker standalone thriller that might attract broader audience attention, and bring more readers into the fold for the main ongoing series as well.

I think Symon is a terrific writer deserving of a much larger following, so I certainly hope that ends up being the case for her, as well. Last year, in our interview for the New Zealand Herald, we spoke a little about THE FACELESS, which she was then working on:
"It's fun to be writing from different persepectives," she said. "It's crime fiction, but not a detective story in the police procedural sense. It's a bit darker. This is a book that I've been mulling over for a few years. It's been brewing in the background for quite some time. Something different to keep me fresh."
I haven't yet got my hands on a copy of THE FACELESS (it's scheduled for release next month), but Linda Lee of Penny's Bookstore has already read an advance copy, saying: "A real change of pace from the previous book I read. No humour, just a portrait of evil and how one simple mistake can lead to truly awful events. Great characters, international appeal too".

You can read a short extract from THE FACELESS here.

So keep an eye out for THE FACELESS. And in the meantime, go and grab one of the Sam Shephard books, and find out why for me, and several others, Vanda Symon is a 'must-read' crime writer.

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