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Review & ***GIVEAWAY***: Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

on November 14, 2019

Dead Man Switch (Billie Walker Mystery #1)
Tara Moss
Harper Collins AUS
2019, 368p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Meet PI Billie Walker – smart and sexy, with a dash of Mae West humour, she’s a hard-boiled detective with a twist.

She’s a woman in a man’s world …

Sydney, 1946. Billie Walker is living life on her own terms. World War II has left her bereaved, her photojournalist husband missing and presumed dead. Determined not to rely on any man for her future, she re-opens her late father’s detective agency.

Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating spouses – it’s easy, pays the bills and she has a knack for it. But her latest case, the disappearance of a young man, is not proving straightforward …

Soon Billie is up to her stylish collar in bad men, and not just the unfaithful kind – these are the murdering kind. Smugglers. Players. Gangsters. Billie and her loyal assistant must pit their wits against Sydney’s ruthless underworld and find the young man before it’s too late.

This new series from prolific Canadian-Australian author Tara Moss is set in Sydney in 1946, right in the fallout of the Second World War. Those that survived are returning home and walking straight back into jobs that women took over during the war. Women are expected to head back to the home and the kitchen now that the men have returned, although Billie Walker isn’t one of those. The daughter of an ex-cop and former Private Investigator, Billie worked as a journalist overseas during the war and now that she’s back in Sydney, she’s opened her father’s former office and is working as a PI herself. Infidelity cases are mostly how she keeps her head above water but then she gets an interesting assignment about the disappearance of a young man, a boy almost really.

Everything Tara Moss does is meticulously researched and I’ve read a lot about what she put herself through to authentically write the Makedde Vanderwall books. This probably involved less trauma but the streets of 1946 Sydney and its surrounds feel very real. I enjoyed Billie as a character – it feels as though she’s had an interesting life but one that is not without its tragedy. She lost her father, obviously a very important and admired influence in her life. During the war she was lucky enough to fall in love amidst all that horror but now her photojournalist husband Jack is missing, believed to be dead. Nothing has been heard from him in the longest time and Billie is struggling with that. She’s being urged to move on, especially from her mother but it’s not that easy. She doesn’t have any definitive proof that Jack is dead, apart from the fact that no one has heard from him and the war has been over for a while now. I think there’s always hope when there isn’t proof and maybe Billie feels he’ll come striding down the street toward her one day. At the same time, she’s also a realist and if that has not happened already in this time since the war ended, it probably isn’t likely to.

I really enjoyed the mystery element to the novel. Billie is fun to observe doing her job and I love her assistant Sam, who has layers and layers to explore there. There’s a police detective who has all the possibilities of being someone interesting as well. Billie has a lot of hidden talent and depth and she does occasionally I think, take all of that and put herself into situations she should definitely not. Sometimes it’s much better to wait for back up, or the novels tend to stray into this varieties where the main characters end up being far too capable to really be believable but also you feel that they might be a bit thick for continuously believing themselves able to do the things on their own that really only a team of experts should be taking on.

I think that the story went in a really interesting direction and it’s not something I’ve really thought about much before in connection with Australia. Definitely in stories of post-WWII Europe and even places like South America, where it’s well known that a lot of Nazis fled to escape prosecution but I haven’t really read many books that involve Australia in this way so it felt fresh and well written. What started as a seemingly innocuous disappearance of a teenage boy, who might’ve found a girlfriend his parents wouldn’t approve of or been on a bender with some mates escalated in some really unexpected and intriguing ways and Billie put the pieces together really well. There are some truly chilling scenes in this book as well, definitely the one where Billie sleeps (or is more like unconscious) through something. But even in a fog, she can think really quickly and has good instincts on what is going to come next and how it’s going to affect her and how she can manoeuvre to get herself out of such situations.

All in all, this was a promising start to a new series and quite a few things about it have me intrigued and interested to read more. I definitely hope there’s more about Jack, Billie’s missing husband in the future. I am also interested in the progression of her working relationship with Sam and perhaps also a mutually beneficial working relationship with the police detective. I’m definitely interested to read the next book and see where it goes from here.


Book #188 of 2019

Dead Man Switch is the 71st book read for The Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019.


Thank you to the fabulous people at Harper Collins for providing me with 2 copies of Dead Man Switch in order to give away! To enter, simply click the link below and fill out the form with your name, email and postcode. Due to restrictions, this giveaway is open to Australian residents only. Thanks for your understanding. Entries will remain open until 28th November with winners contacted by December 1 2019.

Enter here



One response to “Review & ***GIVEAWAY***: Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

  1. I really liked this, I’m looking forward to more

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