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Expectant by Vanda Symon

I wouldn’t usually read a crime thriller knowing that a killer is targeting pregnant women, but when I saw that Vanda Symon was the author, I knew I’d be in excellent hands, even if the premise would be one I’d usually avoid. I wasn’t disappointed with this excellent novel.

Set in contemporary Dunedin, everyone is shocked when a heavily pregnant woman is murdered, with the baby missing. Detective Sam Shephard is determined to find justice for the woman and her distraught family, even though the case may be a little too close to the bone. Sam is pregnant and fast nearing her maternity leave.

Sam is thwarted from being fully hands-on in the investigation, though, as management confines her to a desk job, but she is determined to find crucial information that will help find the killer. She begins by examining cases involving mothers and children from the past, and it’s not long before she starts to find some links to the current case.

Of course, Sam is too resourceful to be stuck for too long behind a desk, and she is soon in the thick of the investigation, but doing so could make her the next target for this killer. The stakes have never been higher as she puts herself and her unborn baby at risk.

Vanda Symon has created a fast-paced, emotionally exhilarating read with Expectant, and I was relieved at the sensitivity used around the central premise of the book. Vanda has walked the perfect line of getting the reader past the initial shocking crime and quickly and fully engaged in the superb plot. I love Sam’s character – she really is the star of the novel – the plot is heart-palpitating, and there is a superb sense of place. Expectant is recommended for anyone who likes a great crime novel that grips to the very end.

It's been twelve years since Sam Shephard last appeared in a book, so I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the next thriller with this feisty heroine front and centre.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Orenda Books


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