Containment by Vanda Symon #bookreview #Containment @vandasymon @OrendaBooks

Dunedin’s favourite young police officer Sam Shephard is drawn into a perplexing investigation when a series of shipping containers wash up on a sleepy New Zealand beach, and a spate of unexplained deaths ensues…
Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins.
Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead.
What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning…
As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…


Hi and welcome to Aramoana beach! Imagine the sound of the waves crashing on the beach, imagine the wind playing with your hair, imagine the early morning sun warming your face… Idyllic innit! Now imagine a ginormous cargo ship run aground on this beach, imagine dozens of looters roaming it for washed-up treasure, imagine spotting two men fighting over a box with someone’s belongings, each trying to make off with it, imagine trying to stop them and one of them punching your lights out… Welcome to Sam Shephard’s life!

Containment is Sam(antha) Shephard’s third outing, after Overkill and The Ringmaster, which I both read about a year ago, so I was absolutely thrilled to be back in Sam’s company, it was high time for my Sam fix, and it was an absolute joy to back in New Zealand! Despite the bad stuff that tends to happen when Sam is around, I always feel like packing my bags and hopping on to the next plane heading to Kiwi land!

For the record: you can read Containment as a standalone if you really want to, there are no spoilers to the previous books and the continuing storylines are easy enough to understand without prior knowledge, but since this is such a excellent series, and the books are short(ish), snappy and highly entertaining I’d nevertheless recommend you read them all.

Containment picks up where The Ringmaster left off. Sam is still living in Dunedin with her best friend Maggy, she’s a Detective Constable with the Dunedin police force and I was happy to find her in a committed, if long-distance, relationship. Of course Sam wouldn’t be Sam if she wasn’t – despite her best intentions – actively sabotaging her own life… I swear, at some point I sincerely wanted to shake some sense into that girl! The fact that I have such strong opinions goes to show just how invested I am, ‘cause I really do love Sam, tiny but feisty, loyal and, despite her profession, predisposed to believe in the goodness of people. It absolutely helps that she, or rather Vanda Symon, has a wicked sense of humour. Despite the rather grim events (and they get more grim by the chapter, lemme tell ya), Containment is also fun and funny, it’s not a laugh a minute or anything, but some well-timed dry and sarcastic observations take the pressure off and made me chuckle.

I commented in my dual review of the first two books on the fact that Sam has a knack for rubbing her superiors the wrong way, and while this time she makes quite commendable efforts to lay low and be the kind of obedient, yet enthusiastic, subordinate officer any DI would dream of having on their team, it’s not quite working out. I disliked DI Johns more with every appearance he made and I’m now in a place where I hate him almost as much as I loathe Skinner from T.S. Hunter’s Soho Noir series, and if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know what a huge deal that is! So here’s me hoping for some comeuppance for the DI in the next instalment, OR (‘cause I’m actually really fair that way) for Johns to see the light and realise the sheer brilliance of Sam Shephard and what a great asset she is to the force! But in the meantime, yes, there is rather a lot of antagonism there, but then again, every hero needs a nemesis, don’t they.

As in Overkill and The Ringmaster, what we see in the first scenes is just the very tip of the iceberg. The more of the story we see, the more mess we see, until it’s once again crystal clear just how huge of a cesspool Sam has managed to unearth. Vanda Symon always takes me by surprise, I never manage to foresee any of the winding path she’s about to take me on and I always end up where I least expected it, and I absolutely love that!

An intricate and hugely entertaining crime thriller with a heroine to root for and some very amusing supporting characters in an exotic setting (to me at least), Containment was a joy to read and I really don’t want to wait another year for the next instalment! Recommended!

Containment is available as eBook right now, and as paperback as from 5 March. Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the ARC!

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