#BlogTour #Review #TheRingmaster by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #SamShephard #RandomThingsTours

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!

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

About The Author:

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, andvanda_jacket_br (1) 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.

#BlogTour #Review #Overkill by Vanda Symon @OrendaBooks @vandasymon #NewZealandNoir #RandomThingsTours

Title: Overkill by Vanda Symon

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 30th June 2018

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town.

To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.

To find the murderer … and clear her name.

A taut, atmospheric and page-turning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand’s finest crime writers.


I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and Orenda Books for my advanced copy of this fab book.

Constable Sam Shephard is the sole police officer in the town of Mataura so when a young mum Gabriella Knowes goes missing it’s up to her to find out what happened to her. One problem, the woman is the wife of her former boyfriend Lockie, a man who she still has feelings for.

When Gabriella’s body is found at the side of the river, dead from an apparent suicide, something doesn’t feel right to Sam. She soon finds evidence that Gabriella has been murdered and has to call in the police from the neighbouring town of Gore who quickly mark her as a suspect.

Sam stumbles upon a catastrophic conspiracy that will put her life in danger. Will she catch the killer and clear her name?

I found this to be a really quick read, gripping me from the very beginning. I devoured the three hundred or so pages in two sittings, which for me is super fast!

I loved Sam. She got a bit of a temper and can be a little sarcastic at times but she makes up for that by having a good heart. She puts aside her feelings, even though Lockie moved on so quickly after they broke up, to try and solve the case. The relationship between her and her best friend Maggie was also a joy to read. Maggie is straight talking and can always be counted on to bring Sam back down to Earth.

You really get a feel of New Zealand from the wildlife to the unusually named trees and plants. There’s a nice smattering of local lingo and words native to New Zealand which give it that authentic feel. Even the local food gets a look in. There’s something called a Toffee pop which gets mentioned a fair bit and is Sam’s favourite biscuit, I don’t know what they are but I’d really like to try one!

While I did find the reasons behind the murder a little far fetched, the ending has left me wanting more!

Overkill is perfect if you’re looking for a fast paced crime novel with a unique setting and a strong female lead.

Rating: 4.5/5

You can follow the rest of the tour here: 

Overkill Blog Tour Poster

About The Author:

Vanda Symon is the best-selling author of four Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction novels, published in New Zealand, including Overkill (Penguin, 2007), The Ringmaster (Penguin, 2008), Containment (Penguin, 2009), Bound (Penguin, 2011), and the stand-alone psychological thriller The Faceless (Penguin, 2012). She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction Novel. Her books have also been published in Germany.

Vanda is the producer and host of Write On, a monthly radio show on matters literary on Otago Access Radio, and she also reviews books for National Radio. She is very involved in the New Zealand writing community, having been chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, and is currently the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand. Vanda also has participated in celebrity debates, acted as speaker, reader or chair in literary events and festivals in New Zealand and Australia, and toured with The New Zealand Book Council’s Words on Wheels.

Vanda has a professional background as a pharmacist and has recently completed a PhD in science communication, examining the communication of science through crime fiction.