The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon Orenda Books April 25th 2019
Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand… Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon
discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…
Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…
Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.
There was no hanging around in Vanda Symon’s The Ringmaster. Straightaway we knew there had been a murder, but what we didn’t know was the culprit.
In Symon’s careful hands she pulled us along as new recruit Detective Sam Shephard set out about her investigation but it obviously wasn’t without a few obstacles and red herrings.
I loved Sam, she was just like the girl next door, down to earth, immensely likeable, someone who you could sit down and have a cup of tea with. She was witty, and fun but with a steely determined side, who wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself to raise her head above the parapet, even if that meant clashing with her bully of a boss. I liked that she could stand up for herself, didn’t need anyone else to fight her corner, and ultimately through hard work and intelligence, able to make her boss finally take notice of her and treat her with the respect she deserved. Yet Symon didn’t push Sam to the extreme or push the fact that she was a woman in a male dominated environment, she maintained Sam’s femininity, and her slight fragility.
We saw the professional and personal side of Sam which gave the novel a nice balance giving softer edges to what was ultimately a crime novel. In someways I felt that the crime was almost secondary, a tool to show off the various facets of human nature at its best and its worst. The circus provided us with the moral and ethical dilemmas of captive animals being used for our entertainment and the divisions it created within the community. Symon didn’t labour the point, but provided both sides of the story and the poignancy of the relationship between Sam and Cassie the elephant was an absolute highlight of the novel, the vivid descriptions created wonderful cinematic scenes that were utterly heartrending.
The murder investigation pulled us one way and then the other, suspects came and went and the drama fuelled final pages did not disappoint. I have a feeling that Detective Constable Sam Shephard will be destined for bigger and greater things and I for one cannot wait.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of The Ringmaster to read and review and to Anne Cater of Randon Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.