Title: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon
Publisher: Orenda Books
Date Published: 25th April 2019
Genre: Police procedural
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.
After reading the first in this series, Overkill (you can read my review here), I jumped at the chance to read this one. Even though it is the second in the series it can quite easily be read as a stand-alone without feeling that you’ve missed too much.
The Ringmaster is a solid police procedural set in New Zealand, which like the first novel is really conveyed well, with it’s unusual plants and wildlife, I almost felt like I was there while reading this book!
The character of Sam really makes this novel. She’s so life like and likeable, with a sharp wit and plenty of sarcasm, you kind of wish that you actually knew her. She really struggles in this book, going from the small town of Mataura where she was the sole police officer to the relatively big city of Dunedin. Her boss seemed to have it out for her, making her do menial and pointless jobs when she wants to be out there solving the case.
If that wasn’t tough enough, the investigation centres around the circus, a tight community who don’t trust outsiders which Sam has to try and gain their trust and uncover their secrets.
I have to be honest, I kind of pegged who the killer was quite early on and didn’t have quite as many shocks and surprises as the first one but it was still an engaging read.
I’d recommend The Ringmaster to anyone who loves realistic characters and settings that will entertaining you from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to book three!
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.