I absolutely loved the sound of Overkill when I first read the synopsis, and I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read a copy ahead of publication and to take part in the blog tour organised by Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.
When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems.
Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast aside her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands.
To find the murderer… and clear her name.
Overkill opens with the murder, and throws the reader straight into the story with this brilliant opening paragraph:
The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die there were no harbingers, omens or owls’ calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited Death in.
I thought that the prologue was fantastic, and loved that Symon managed to make the opening scene so shocking and yet entirely non-graphic. It lets the reader know exactly what they are in for, in that the novel will claim its victims without mercy, but also that it won’t be unnecessarily brutal in its approach. Whilst so many novels rely on shock factor, it was refreshing to read a novel that does this without having to resort to gory scenes.
I loved the setting of Mataura, New Zealand. It’s a small town, but one that has plenty of secrets hidden away, despite its outwardly peaceful appearance, and Symon evokes a sense of place brilliantly. As always, the small-town setting makes Sam’s job incredibly difficult, as everyone knows her, just as she knows everyone else, and everyone knows that newly widowed Lockie was her lover in the not too distant past, and that only one half of that couple managed to move on. She’s a girl who wears her heart on her sleeve, and it doesn’t really come as a surprise that she becomes a suspect. Not that she’s about to let that get in her way.
The very best thing about Overkill was undoubtedly Sam Shepherd, our main protagonist. What an absolute star! I loved her determination to keep looking into the murder despite her feelings on Gaby, the victim. Suspended from duty, and quite likely to lose her job if she doesn’t step away from the investigation, she just can’t help herself, and I loved this perseverance despite the potential consequences. She is a character who is most definitely flawed but very much aware of her own shortcomings, and this acceptance of who she is and her “what you see is what you get” attitude make her very easy to like. She puts herself through some trials in order to gather information, including a rather uncomfortable visit to the nurse! I won’t spoil it for you… 😉
I thought that the plot moved at a fair pace, and was both interesting and original. There are red herrings thrown in to keep you on your toes, and whilst this isn’t a novel carrying a big OMG twist, it’s one that keeps you guessing right until the end. I’m really hoping for more from Symon, hopefully featuring more Sam!
Overkill is published by Orenda Books, and the eBook is available now, with the paperback being published on 6 September. Thanks to Anne Cater for the review copy and the opportunity to join the blog tour.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Make sure you check out the other stops on the tour!