Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middleclass Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do. Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing. In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past, and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time – and the clock is ticking…
Publication coincides with International Women’s Month and Homeless Women’s Day, with a percentage of profits to SHELTER
Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger. Twitter @vandasymon, Instagram @vanda-symon, Facebook, @vandasymonauthor, www.vandasymon.com.
My thoughts: It’s easy to imagine that violent criminals are different from ordinary people, that no one with a 9 to 5 job, a family, a suburban life could do anything terrible. But that’s just not true. Behind that Pleasantville facade can be some really twisted people.
Billy is a street kid, doing what she has to in order to survive after being kicked out by her parents. Max is also homeless. They look out for each other, and when she goes missing, he’s the only one who cares. And he will do anything to find her.
Max is a fascinating character, there’s something sad and lost about him, and as his story is revealed, you understand why he’s so broken. But he’s also kind and loyal and he cares so much for Billy, she reminds him of someone he lost. Billy is street tough, brave, resourceful and terrified. I rooted for them both the whole time, hoping their story would end well. Bradley however, can get in the bin. What an awful creep. A very angry, disturbed man. I felt sorry for his family.
What follows is a clever, twisted tale of a good man using whatever resources he can, including turning to people he never thought he’d see again, to save an innocent life. Although he doesn’t know it, there is a deadline as Bradley’s rage and desperation to avoid being caught build. It’s also the story of a brave and rather incredible young woman who won’t be a victim and is channelling her grandmother’s love to stay alive and find a way to fight back.
I do sometimes wonder where crime writers get their ideas and characters from, especially the awful ones. Plumbing the depths of human depravity needs to be offset by the Maxs and Billys of this world. Good people in bad places. A hope of redemption and a fresh start.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own