Orenda Books is on fire at the moment, releasing one brilliant book after another, so I was very excited to read The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon, and to be on the blog tour. Although this is part of a series, this is the first of Symon’s book I have read.
Here’s the blurb:
Death is stalking the South Island of New Zealand…
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…
The Ringmaster throws the reader into the action from the off, and it doesn’t seem to slow its pace throughout. Symon brilliantly keeps the reader on tenterhooks right from the Prologue, and like all Orenda Books, it is a quintessential page-turner. DC Sam Shepherd is a determined, intuitive detective who, although is new to her detective training, she possesses that skill of all good literary detectives, an ability to spot the anomaly that most other detectives would miss, linking up seemingly separate pieces of evidence to make a case.
The narrative itself is incredibly powerful, and there is one particular scene where Sam has to act against all her natural instincts for the greater good that is very poignant and emotionally charged. (You’ll know it when you get to it, believe me!) Symon captures the scene perfectly and adds another layer of emotional baggage to the already overloaded Sam.
The Ringmaster is a great novel and I didn’t feel any the worse for not having read any other novels in the series, as Symon gives just enough detail to read as a standalone whilst being given just enough information as is relevant to the plot of this novel. It has, however, made me want to read other Sam Shepherd novels, as she is a strong, feisty detective who looks adversity in the face and gives a good old shove out of the way. This would be a brilliant holiday read, so if you’re looking for a book to read on the beach, I can highly recommend this one.