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Faceless by Vanda Symon – a review BLOG TOUR

I have been a fan of Vanda Symon since I saw her a few years ago at the Harrogate Crime Festival and have very much enjoyed her Sam Shepherd series so was looking forward to reading her latest.

Faceless is a stand alone novel set in New Zealand, that was an absolute cracker. It tells the story of three very different characters who’s lives collide with devastating consequences. Billy is a homeless artist who has to make money to survive anyway she can. Bradley is an office worker with a dark side that even he didn’t realise existed until a fateful night. Max has become Billy’s friend and despite living an unseen life now he’s having to come out of the shadows and face his demons to save a life.

Faceless was a story that I’ll be honest I was not expecting. I agreed to the tour because of the author and started reading without checking the blurb so it was certainly something unexpected, and all the better for it. What starts as a story of three separate people all in their own way completely ‘faceless’ to society, soon becomes a terrifying tale of kidnap, violence, mental health crisis and more.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of the three main characters with the chapters flitting backwards and forwards. Gradually the back story of the characters is revealed and the reasons they are in the situations they are becomes apparent. This was very much a character led story yet the plot was impeccable. The story was interesting and the writing was flawless. The face that it was told from the different viewpoints meant that you almost felt that you were learning about the characters at the same time as they were learning about themselves and what they were capable of.

This is a really difficult story to review because it was harrowing but it was absolutely compelling and a fantastic change from her usual police procedural. I would highly recommend this as one of the best books I’ve read for a while.

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Bound by Vanda Symon – a review BLOG TOUR

Back in the days of old when we had face to face events I was lucky enough to attend the Antipodean Noir session at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival 2019 and heard Vanda Symon speak. I’ve been a big fan ever since and therefore was really excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest novel Bound, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Bound by Vanda Symon

Bound begins when a businessman is murdered in his home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch her husband die. Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, and soon discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.

The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas and in need a distraction from her personal life she launches her own investigation. When another murder throws the official case into chaos, it’s up to Sam to prove that the killer is someone no one could ever suspect.

This is the 4th in the series starring Detective Sam Shephard and I would go so far as to say that Sam is one of my most favourite Detective’s of the moment. She’s funny, confident and sassy, yet believable. In this book we see a more vulnerable side of her as she deals with her father’s cancer diagnosis, as well as within her relationship with partner Paul.

The story itself is a great twisty read that starts down one path and then keeps throwing you down other routes as it picks up pace to the final reveal. I liked the short chapters and each one kept me wanting to just read one more. Although the story itself focusses on some rather somber subjects there are light hearted moments and an element of comedy that really helps lift it throughout.

Set in New Zealand you get a real sense of the place, and I enjoyed learning about the city of Dunedin through the descriptions flawlessly written in the story. Yes the real focus throughout is Sam and how she navigates her way through her personally and professional life. Although this is the fourth in the series it could be read as a standalone, but I would recommend reading the others first as you’ll get to know Sam so much better and appreciate how she seems to have matured in this novel.

I would definitely recommend Bound and do hope that this isn’t the last in the series.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the Blog Tour to find out what they thought of Bound.

You can also revisit some of the highlights of the TOPCWF including Antipodean Noir here:

https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/hif-player/antipodean-noir/

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