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Review: Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

Dead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1) by Tara Moss

Bestselling author Tara Moss returns to crime fiction with a stunning new series, and a stunning new heroine. 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.

Published 21 October 2019 |  Publisher: HarperCollins – AU |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Firstly, loved the cover!

Secondly, it kinda reminded me of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series… albeit set a couple of decades later (in comparison between first books) and in different countries BUT that is the best thing about this book, it is set in my own backyard or rather Sydney & the Blue Mountains. I recognised all the landmarks and that was just added an extra layer of sweetness to this novel.

I must admit though that it meant I did a lot of comparing between Billie Walker (the protagonist in this novel) to Maisie Dobbs and while there are a number of similarities (eg. losing their loves to war, setting up private investigation agencies, injured returned soldier as assistant, etc), there were enough differences that I could appreciate especially the fashion (!) If you love fashion in novels, in combination with mysteries, you’d love this book.

Billie Walker is working hard to push her grief aside. She’s also working hard because things are tough after the war; everyone is looking for work & are mostly strapped for cash. At the same time, she also loves her work. She loves solving puzzles and seeing justice served. She’s a character one can easily loved. It was also quite easy to love the secondary characters from her toff mother, her most reliable assistant, to the enigmatic detective inspector; Moss has created a most appealing set of characters.

The mystery itself was pretty interesting and the author has done well in connecting the dots. I do love the car chase scene and Billie’s overall capability as a private investigator. There is no bumbling about like an amateur, she’s all professional.

There were 2 things which I found a little bit weird… Instead of using words like ‘gut instinct’ or ‘intuition’, she used ‘little woman’. There was a paragraph in the book explaining why she’s chosen this phrase of ‘little woman’ but really, it just didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I’ve just got a dirty mind (?) because when we have a male protag and he refers to ‘little me’, he’s usually referring to his private parts. Can I just say that I therefore automatically applied the same meaning and had to work really hard to steer myself in the right direction? That was just too strange.

Also, there were too much ‘looking into people’s eyes’ – not staring as such but Billie seems to like to make sure she’s looking into whoever’s eyes a lot… but then again, I read an uncorrected proof so maybe there have been some changes since.

Dead Man Switch was an absolute delight to read. I loved walking through Sydney in the 40s in the high-heeled shoes of a fashionable, capable & brave young woman. If you love historical mystery set in Australia or those like Maisie Dobbs series, I’d highly recommend that you get on board with Billie Walker!

Thanks to HarperCollins AU via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Tara Moss is the bestselling author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction published in nineteen countries, a documentary maker and host, public speaker and outspoken advocate for human rights and women’s rights. She is the writer of the popular Mak Vanderwall crime series, the Pandora English paranormal series, and the feminist memoir The Fictional Woman. She received an Edna Ryan award for making a feminist difference, inciting others to challenge the status quo. Tara currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and daughter.

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