This the first novel by this author that I’ve read, but the third in the author’s series of New Zealand set police procedurals. That said, Containment is a self-contained story (excuse the pun on the title) and there is no need to have read the author’s previous titles to either enjoy it or follow the story (though of course, you might want to).

Sam Shepherd is the heroine and she’s a detective with the Dunedin police force. Sam is something of an outsider, not fully accepted in the masculine world of the police force, let alone its detective branch. But she’s earned the grudging respect of her colleagues and is more than capable at her job. Her closest colleague is Malcolm “Smithy” Smith who’s something of a mentor to her, while her nemesis is her boss, DI Johns, who’s determined to make her life hell.

The story opens with a beached cargo ship, the locals looting it. When Sam tries to break up a fight over some stolen loot, one of the participants knocks her unconscious. Later, the body of a decomposed man is found in the sea. When the police realise that the two men – the decomposed man and Sam’s attacker – are linked, things start to get interesting. Soon it transpires that something was on the ship that shouldn’t have been and that the men were involved in something no good.

Containment is told in the first person and from Sam’s perspective. The characters are well-rounded and Sam and Smithy in particular are likeable. The sense of place – a provincial city on the coast of New Zealand – is well developed. This is a good, solid police procedural, centred in a part of the world that doesn’t all-too-often feature in crime fiction.

James Pierson 4/4*

Containment by Vanda Symon
978-1913193195 Orenda Books Kindle March 2020