Overkill (PC Sam Shephard 1)
Orenda Books, 6 September 2018
I'm grateful to Orenda for a copy of the book to review as part of the blogtour and to Anne for the invitation to take part.
I loved Overkill. From its stunning - and violent - prologue, it grabbed me and carried me along. Very linear, very compelling, with a great protagonist, it is a book that demands to be read pretty much at a single sitting.
Sorry, not demands. Make that orders.
It is also a relatively short book and this is entirely feasible, so clear a few hours and go for it.
Sam Shephard ('Shep' to her mates in the New Zealand town of Mataura) is a rural policewoman in a one-company town focussed on meat packing. Her normal business is sorting out scuffles at closing time or trivial car accidents.
Not disappearances, suicides or murder.
Especially not disappearances, suicides or murders involving the wife of an ex - a woman she's had a few run-ins with herself (amusingly, Shephard is a little bit of an unreliable narrator and minimises these encounters, so she's gradually admitting to more and more of them as the story goes on).
So when Gabriella Knowes vanishes and is soon found dead, Sam has to tread particularly carefully. Her reputation is at stake, her feelings for husband Lockie are engaged and its a small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. There are no detectives based in Mataura so a load of out-of-towners come to take over the investigation.
Underneath it all though, there's a mystery to be solved and Sam sets about it with determination, even when warned off the case. ESPECIALLY when warned off the case. Friction, misunderstandings and resentment are guaranteed, but when they break out, they're truly volcanic.
I had great fun reading this book. Sam is a great protagonist - awkward, totally undetected, infuriating at times yet absolutely determined to get to the truth. She does herself no favours and it seems as though she sets out to annoy everyone (that is, every man because they all are) why tries to bring her back into line, silence her or get her out of the way. At times this can get pretty brutal, but Sam always, always stands up for herself and finds a way through. Or round. Despite their dubious history perhaps she's the best person, the best woman, to be in poor Gabby Knowes' corner.
Because it turns out that there are dark secrets behind Gabby's death...
STRONGLY recommended and I'm delighted that this is only the first in the series - I hope that Orenda will be bringing us more of these soon.
To buy the book you can visit your local bookshop (this may help) or try the big stores here or here.