Thursday, July 30, 2015


CONTAINMENT by Vanda Symon (Penguin, 2009)

Reviewed by Kerrie Smith

When the container ship the Lauretia Express runs aground near Dunedin and spills containers across the Aramoana sands the city's normally staid and law abiding denizens turn out in force to apply their own rules of salvage. Detective Constable Sam Shepherd can't believe the pillage she is witnessing. Nor does she expect to be walloped when she intervenes in a squabble between two looters. To complicate things Sam's assailant very nearly dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and Sam saves his life.

One of the containers held a well-documented antique collection, now widely dispersed, which the owner is anxious to recover. The discovery a week or so later of a body in the sea off Aramoana, with all the signs of foul play, adds another complicating element.

And if work is not complicated enough, Sam's personal life hypes up a notch when her boyfriend announces he has applied to come to work in Dunedin, and she's not at all sure she wants him that close.

Containment is the third instalment in Vanda Symon's Sam Shepherd series. I thought there were elements of humour in this one that I had not noticed in the earlier novels, Overkill and The Ringmaster. Sam Shepherd is a likeable, feisty character who doesn't always make the wisest decisions. She is constantly in trouble with her section boss DI Johns, but then she often causes headaches for him.

I must admit there were times when I wondered if a detective constable would really behave that way, would really  take that action on herself, but those slight stretches of credibility aside, Containment is a well plotted page turner. I like the way the character of Sam Shepherd is developing and I think New Zealander Vanda Symon is an author well worth keeping an eye on. There is a fourth book in the series, Bound.


Kerrie Smith is a renowned Australian crime fiction reviewer and the creator of Mysteries in Paradise, an outstanding online crime fiction resource where this review was originally published. She also runs the Global Reading Challenge. Kerrie has been kindly agreed to share her New Zealand crime fiction reviews here with the Crime Watch audience.  


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