Bound by Vanda Symon #BookReview #BlogTour


The New Zealand city of Dunedin is rocked when a wealthy and apparently respectable businessman is murdered in his luxurious home while his wife is bound and gagged, and forced to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard and her team start investigating the case, they discover that the victim had links with some dubious characters.
The case seems cut and dried, but Sam has other ideas. Weighed down by her dad’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and by complications in her relationship with Paul, she needs a distraction, and launches her own investigation. And 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.

I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my thoughts on Bound today. Huge thanks to Vanda Symon, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

Bound is the fourth book in Vanda Symon's Sam Shephard series, of which I've been a huge fan since the beginning. New readers needn't be concerned about starting here, however, as reminders of Sam's past are woven unobtrusively throughout the plot. Nevertheless, it is always more satisfying to follow the development of a character from the beginning, and so I would advise reading from the beginning of this excellent series if possible. 
The book opens at the tail-end of a terrifying home invasion, which has left a man violently slain and his wife in dire straits. It's this case which becomes a professional and personal test for Sam and her colleagues. Sam has recently been promoted from Detective Constable to Detective but rising through the ranks hasn't made life any easier for her. She still has to deal with her belligerent, bullying boss, DI Johns but her former mentor, Smithy isn't the rock he once was. The discovery of key evidence combined with revelations that the murdered man, John Henderson most likely had some shady dealings alongside his legitimate business result in the team quickly suspecting two local gangsters. In an emotive twist which will hold particular resonance for those who read the previous novel, Containment, Sam and her colleagues have a very personal reason for wanting these two lowlifes to finally face the justice they undoubtedly deserve.
A second death complicates matters and much to the fury of some of her colleagues, Sam begins to question whether they have the right killers, as satisfying as retribution might be. One of the main reasons why I love this series is that although there is always an intriguing major crime to be investigated, Sam's character shines through each novel. Her deep sense of morality coupled with the intense personal issues she is dealing with means she is perhaps more vulnerable than ever here. She is troubled but her problems are the sort that most of us will face at one point or another; difficult colleagues, a terminally ill parent, a relationship at a crossroads, and it's this which makes her so relatable and engaging. My own father was diagnosed with terminal cancer a few months ago and I must admit to feeling slightly nervous about how it would affect me but although it does trigger some moments of drama within Sam's family, I thought the depiction of the emotions experienced as somebody's life draws to a close were expressed with empathetic honesty.
 It does seem as if Sam has reached a point in her life where she might begin to allow herself to feel more anchored and her evident love for Dunedin not only demonstrates how she has made the city her home, it also allows us to experience the rich sense of place which is always a highlight of these books. A brief visit to Auckland is no less immersive, although it's clear where Vanda Symon's heart lies! It does seem to substantiate the evidence that points to John Henderson being dodgy, however, and so her decision to properly listen to the wives of the two accused men and to reconsider what all the evidence seems to suggest, really underlines her courage and commitment to fair justice. It's a complex, emotional case which throws up plenty of suspects and the tense, compelling plot keeps the surprises coming until the perfectly pitched resolution which is as thought-provoking as it is shocking.
There often seems to be a pivotal novel in a series where the main character is forced to confront their life and to make decisions about their future, and Bound feels as if it's a significant moment for Sam Shephard. There are still loose ends left to tantalise readers but her relationships with Paul and her mother may well be strengthened by events here while her concerns about Smithy's psychological state will surely continue to reverberate as the series progresses. This series keeps getting better and Bound has been my favourite so far, I look forward to what lies in store for Sam Shephard next with eager anticipation. Heartily recommended.

Bound is published by Orenda Books, it is available now in ebook and will be out in paperback on 18th March 2021. Purchasing links can be found here but please support independent bookstores whenever possible, either by buying directly or from

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

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.


  1. Thanks so much for the blog tour support Karen x


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