>Inaugural Ngaio Marsh Award – Finalist Announced


Just read in Crime Time that the three finalist are:

Cut & Run by Alix Bosco (Penguin);

Burial by Neil Cross (Simon & Schuster); and

Containment by Vanda Symon (Penguin).

The international judges said Cut & Run was "complex and suspenseful" and had "scenes and incidents which are jaw-droopingly good", that Burial "maintained the tension and the atmosphere from beginning to end, keeping the atmosphere creepy", and that Containment had "an attractive series heroine (feisty but vulnerable)" while starting with a "superb" opening scene that by itself would make the judge "want to read more Vanda Symon".

I have received recently Burial and expect to receive soon Cut & Run and Containment, however I might not be on time to finish all three before the final announcement is made at the upcoming The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival in September. 

Dame Ngaio Marsh Award

Kiwi Thanks to Craig Sisterson’s  excellent blog Crime Watch I’m starting to know more about crime fiction writers in New Zealand. I wish I have his capacity to carry out a similar task for Spanish crime fiction, covering Spain and Latin-American countries.

I’m planning to read more Kiwi crime fiction in the coming months. These titles are a good place to start. Burial by Neil Cross. Cut and Run by Alix Bosco. Access Road by Maurice Gee. Bold Blood by Lindy Kelly. Containment by Vanda Symon. So far I have read only one book, Overkill by Vanda Symon and I have Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave in my TBR pile; my third Australasia book for the Global Reading Challenge.

Thanks to Craig entrepreneurial skills New Zealand has recently created a new crime fiction Award name after Dame Ngaio Marsh. The winner will be announced on Friday September 10 at Christchurch Writers Festival.

Please also note that following to my previous post (amended) Craig Sisterson sent the following clarification note:

Just one small point of clarification – the books in the photo aren’t the officially shortlist – they’re more of an unofficial longlist of books the international judges were considering (the Kiwi judges may have read some others as well, like Michael Green’s BLOOD BOND and Dorothy Fowler’s WHAT REMAINS BEHIND etc)… there will be an official 3-book shortlist announced in the leadup to the festival. It would be great if you could just amend your post slightly so there isn’t any confusion… because not all of those books will be on the official shortlist…

Overkill by Vanda Symon

OverkillOverkill (2007)

Vanda Symon

Penguin Books. New Zealand.

336 pages.

ISBN: 978-0-14-300665-7

“The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die there was no harbingers, omens or owl’s calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited death in.”

The novel opens with a Prologue in which we find out how an unsuspecting young mother invites her killer into her house and she is forced to write a suicide note to protect her child. It is set in a small town, Mataura, located in the Southland region of the South Island of New Zealand.

In the first chapter the sole-charge police woman at Maturana station Sam(antha) Shephard is called to investigate the missing of Mrs. Gabriella Knowes. Sam commands the official search and when the corpse or the young mother is found on the banks of the Maturana river it seems obvious that she has committed suicide because of the note left behind. However a forged script will soon lead into a murder inquire and within hours a collection of CIB detectives and officers from Invercargill and even Dunedin converted the Mataura Elderly Citizens Centre into an official command centre. Soon Sam finds herself on the list of suspects, for two years she has lived together with Gaby’s husband and Sam is not only separated from the case but she is also suspended from all her functions. Sam will not accept this situation and will continue her investigations to find out who ordered that murder and to clear her name.

Overkill is Vanda Symon’s debut novel and Sam Shephard is quite an engaging and attractive character. Except for the Prologue the novel is written in the first person from Sam perspective. The rural setting is very well described and the book is written in a smooth style which makes it a page-turner. I did very much enjoy this book and I’m keen to read the next books on Sam Shephard series.

Vanda Symon (1969) is a crime writer and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the Chair of tglobalhe Otago Southland Branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. Symon’s first novel, Overkill, was published in March 2007 in New Zealand by Penguin Books. It introduces series heroine Sam Shephard. Symon followed with the publication of her second novel The Ringmaster in August 2008. Symon’s third novel featuring detective Sam Shephard, Containment was released in December 2009. She is currently working on her fourth in the series.



Penguin Book (NZ)


Mysteries in Paradise

Reactions to Reading

Crime Watch

Vanda Symon

Official website

Vanda’s blog


Interview with Vanda Symon