Vanda Symon is a New Zealand author who is best known for writing crime novels. She is the author of the Sam Shephard series. In addition to working as a writer, she is also the host of the Write On radio show on Toroa Radio.

Symon got into reading at a young age with the Berenstain Bears series of children’s books and was hooked ever since. Despite that level, she did not pursue writing right away. She headed to the University of Otago in Dunedin to study pharmacy. She then worked as a pharmacist for a time before starting a family. It was when she was home looking after her children that she decided to give writing a shot and it led to the career we now know.

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Publication Order of Sam Shephard Books

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Publication Order of Anthologies

Dark Deeds Down Under(2022)Description / Buy at

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Overkill is the first book in the Sam Shephard series. Shephard is a police constable in Mataura when a body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the river. The community is rocked by the apparent suicide, but Shephard suspects there might be more to the story and pins this as a murder. To complicate matters, Sam finds herself as a suspect when the murdered woman turns out to be the wife of her former lover. Getting suspended from duty won’t stop her from clearing her name and finding out who did this.

Another good book in the Sam Shephard series is The Ringmaster. This one sees Shephard in detective training who has just got her first homicide investigation. A university student is murdered at the Botanic Gardens and this is not an isolated incident. The belief is there is a predator running loose in Dunedin that will act again unless they are found. Weirdly enough, the deaths may also be linked to the visiting circus.

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