Dead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1)
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.

Dead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1) Details

TitleDead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseOct 21st, 2019
PublisherHarperCollins - AU
ISBN-139780732290658
Rating
GenreMystery, Crime, Historical, Thriller, Historical Fiction

Dead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1) Review

  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    1946, post-war Sydney and Billie Walker has come home to take over her father's PI business after her death. Prior to that she worked with her photojournalist husband in warn torn Europe but he disappeared after she left to return to Sydney and is presumed dead. With most women leaving their war time jobs to allow returning servicemen to work, she's considered a curiosity, particularly in a career with few women at the helm. But Billie with her 'Fighting Red' lipstick, elegant clothes and little 1946, post-war Sydney and Billie Walker has come home to take over her father's PI business after her death. Prior to that she worked with her photojournalist husband in warn torn Europe but he disappeared after she left to return to Sydney and is presumed dead. With most women leaving their war time jobs to allow returning servicemen to work, she's considered a curiosity, particularly in a career with few women at the helm. But Billie with her 'Fighting Red' lipstick, elegant clothes and little pearl handled gun strapped to her thigh is well equipped for the job. She also has her male assistant Sam, a returned serviceman to help when needed. Most of Billie's business has been divorce cases but things get a bit more exciting when a women hires her to find her missing 17 year old son. Hot on his trail, she soon finds he's stumbled into something very dangerous indeed and wonders if she will find him alive. In Billie Walker, Tara Moss has created a terrific feisty, cool-headed, sexy lady PI who I trust we'll see a lot more of in the future. With a few nods to the Golden age of detective fiction, this is more than a cosy crime with some very serious crimes and criminals involved. The author's meticulous research into how people behaved and places looked and felt during the 1940s gives them the ring of authenticity, with the action occuring at several sites in Sydney and the Blue Mountains with detailed descriptions of landmarks and buildings that those familiar with Sydney will recognise. Recommended for all those who enjoy a good historical mystery. 4.5★With many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia for a digital Arc to read.
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  • Phrynne
    January 1, 1970
    Dead Man Switch is written in Tara Moss's typical style (why use just one adjective when you can use two or even three) and with a main character who seems to be really Makkede Vanderwall set in a different time period. However I can overlook all of that because the story is great, Billie turns out to be a fantastic character and, after a slowish start, the book really romps home.I loved the setting of Sydney and its surrounds. I had high tea recently myself at the Hydro Majestic which I can say Dead Man Switch is written in Tara Moss's typical style (why use just one adjective when you can use two or even three) and with a main character who seems to be really Makkede Vanderwall set in a different time period. However I can overlook all of that because the story is great, Billie turns out to be a fantastic character and, after a slowish start, the book really romps home.I loved the setting of Sydney and its surrounds. I had high tea recently myself at the Hydro Majestic which I can say has been beautifully restored and has the most magnificent views. I agree with Billie that the champagne is good too. Billie and Sam made a good team and I wondered if he was going to be the romantic male lead. Or will it be the policeman? Or will her husband come back?Altogether it turned out to be a very entertaining read with lots of promise for future books in the series.My thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Move over Frankie Drake, there is a new female PI on the scene and she is determined to make a name for herself in Sydney after the second world war. Smart, sexy and with a wicked sense of humour to boot Billie Walker is a lady who demands attention and relishes working in a man's world. her latest case, finding a teenage boy, seems on paper to be fairly straight forward but unlike tailing cheating spouses prooves much more complicated and dangerous.With the assistance of her colleague Sam, she Move over Frankie Drake, there is a new female PI on the scene and she is determined to make a name for herself in Sydney after the second world war. Smart, sexy and with a wicked sense of humour to boot Billie Walker is a lady who demands attention and relishes working in a man's world. her latest case, finding a teenage boy, seems on paper to be fairly straight forward but unlike tailing cheating spouses prooves much more complicated and dangerous.With the assistance of her colleague Sam, she will encounter Nazis living in Australia trying to profit off the stolen wealth of those sent to death camps. These are men who will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure they remain undetected and don't take to kindly to a young PI snooping around in their business. For Billie and Sam, it will take all their street smarts to find the boy and unravel the forces they are up against.It is great to see Tara Moss back in the fiction game after her Makedde Vanderwall PI series. Just like her predecessor Billie holds her own no matter the situation and she does it with elegance and class. Fast-paced and not out of place in today's modern world this is a great introduction to what I hope will be a long and successful series.
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  • Mandy White
    January 1, 1970
    Being a massive fan of Tara Moss' previous series - Mak Vanderwall and Pandora English - I jumped at the chance to read the first book in a new crime series. Dead Man Switch did not disappoint. In fact I stayed up way past my bedtime last night to finish it. It is a book that I could not put down. Billie Walker is a fantastic new character and I look forward to spending more time getting to know her in the future.This is a crime series with a difference for me. Set in Sydney in 1946 after the Being a massive fan of Tara Moss' previous series - Mak Vanderwall and Pandora English - I jumped at the chance to read the first book in a new crime series. Dead Man Switch did not disappoint. In fact I stayed up way past my bedtime last night to finish it. It is a book that I could not put down. Billie Walker is a fantastic new character and I look forward to spending more time getting to know her in the future.This is a crime series with a difference for me. Set in Sydney in 1946 after the war - Billie Walker returned from being a reporter in Europe when her father was ill. She has re-opened his private investigation firm and is working to help the people of Sydney. Mostly she is dealing with cheating spouses but a new case has just landed on her desk. A distraught mother wants Billie to find her missing teenage son. Along with her trusty assistant Sam they start looking into the boys last known movements. This leads them down a dark path dealing with the city's most dangerous people. How did a young boy get caught up in Sydney's underworld and where is he? As well as this Billie has been asked to help a friend who believes members of her family are in danger from a man in the Blue Mountains. It is all go for Billie.Whilst reading this book I had a very clear picture of Billie's world in 1946 Sydney. Tara Moss' research has created a scene that you find yourself immersed in. Being a Sydney girl myself I could see the areas Billie and Sam were working in - trying to picture in a few decades ago of course. The buildings, the fashion, the attitudes of people, it was all there. Billie has her fans but at the same time she is a working woman in an era when this is still frowned on. Not only that but she is doing a man's job in many peoples eyes.Billie and Sam are both intriguing characters. Both have returned from the war scarred in more ways than one. There is still so much more to their stories. Billie married Jack, a photo journalist during the war but he is missing. She is still holding onto hope that he will return to her. I hope that we will learn more about Jack and what has happened to him in future books.Billie herself is a strong, feisty, very attractive and determined young lady. She has to be to work in the world that she does. She does not take no for an answer and can't leave things alone. She needs to find out why and how. I love this about her, although it can get her into trouble.So in case you hadn't realised yet I absolutely loved this book! I highly recommend it to all crime readers, historical fiction readers will also love the step back in time.Thanks so much to Better Reading Australia and Harper Collins Australia for my advanced copy of this book to read. All opinions are my own and are in no way biased.
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  • Marianne
    January 1, 1970
    “’He looks a lot more like a body rolled in a rug than I was hoping.’ Ella observed quietly as she and Alma inspected their handiwork. ‘Let's hope we don't run into any neighbours or the next tenant meeting will be hell.’”Dead Man Switch is the first book in the Billie Walker Mystery series by award-winning Australian/Canadian author, Tara Moss. It’s 1946 in Sydney, and the climate favours returned servicemen in jobs while the women who filled those roles during the war are relegated to domestic “’He looks a lot more like a body rolled in a rug than I was hoping.’ Ella observed quietly as she and Alma inspected their handiwork. ‘Let's hope we don't run into any neighbours or the next tenant meeting will be hell.’”Dead Man Switch is the first book in the Billie Walker Mystery series by award-winning Australian/Canadian author, Tara Moss. It’s 1946 in Sydney, and the climate favours returned servicemen in jobs while the women who filled those roles during the war are relegated to domestic duties. Formerly a war journalist, Billie Walker’s current profession is already seen as a masculine one, so she’s going emphatically against the grain by running her deceased father’s private inquiry business. But there’s a call for female investigative agents: obtaining evidence to allow wives to divorce errant husbands makes up the majority of her work, but Mrs Netanya Brown has come about her missing seventeen-year-old son, Adin. “A good boy”, she insists. Billie intuitively knows there’s something not being said, but a near empty work agenda means she can hardly be choosy. She takes the case. Meanwhile, her confidential informant asks her to look into the welfare of four young women from her mob who have been assigned to work for a man in the lower Blue Mountains. And just why is Vincenzo Moretti, a PI with a grudge against the late Barry Walker, watching her flat?Moss gives the reader a fast-paced plot filled with intrigue, some nasty villains and a heart-thumping climax. With mentions of fashion, petrol rationing, disfigured veterans, social attitudes and the scarcity of certain commodities, Moss easily evokes the era and ambience of immediate post-war Sydney. Billie is feisty and determined, and manages to hold her own, although she does end up ruining several frocks and quite a lot of (difficult to come by) stockings. Luckily, she’s a dab hand with a sewing machine as well as a lockpick and her little Colt 908.Moss gives Billie a marvellous support cast, with a hint of sexual tension between Billie and two of the male characters and occasional moments of dark humour. Some background matters remain unresolved, no doubt to be addressed in later books. Certainly, more of this excellent post-war Aussie noir series will be most welcome. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Better Reading Preview and Harper Collins Australia.
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  • Tien
    January 1, 1970
    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 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
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  • Joss
    January 1, 1970
    A Billie Walker #1 Mystery.This book was a romp through post war Sydney's steamier parts. Billie Walker, recently returned from Europe, where she worked as a journalist, takes over her late father's Detective Agency. Nothing deters this lady as long as she has the right shade of lipstick, Fighting Red. However Fighting Red is on its way out and so will Billie be if she doesn't get some private detection work pretty soon. While divorce cases pay for most of her needs, Billie longs for some A Billie Walker #1 Mystery.This book was a romp through post war Sydney's steamier parts. Billie Walker, recently returned from Europe, where she worked as a journalist, takes over her late father's Detective Agency. Nothing deters this lady as long as she has the right shade of lipstick, Fighting Red. However Fighting Red is on its way out and so will Billie be if she doesn't get some private detection work pretty soon. While divorce cases pay for most of her needs, Billie longs for some serious work. Life get a lot more interesting when Mrs Brown walks in the door asking Billie to find her 17 year old son, Adin. What at first seems to be a simple missing person case, quickly turns to murder and poor Con Zervos certainly didn't deserve to turn up dead in three different locations around Sydney. What on the surface seems to be a lighthearted case, soon turns deadly serious. For the author, Tara Moss, it was a book written for her family, who live through the dark days of World War 2. Authentic and wonderfully researched, this book tackles serious issues of Race, but in a entertaining way that will keep the reader involved right up to the end. Set in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, I felt a sense of place in a landscape that I have only passed through, but one the author knows intimately. I enjoyed this book and I will hopefully be reading more about Billie Walker in the near future. I gave the book 4 StarsThanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia who gave me an advanced copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review
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  • Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
    January 1, 1970
    Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss introduces Billie Walker, an ex war correspondent now working as a private investigator in post-war Sydney, Australia.Still grieving the absence of her photojournalist husband who is missing Europe, Billie Walker has reopened her late father’s private detective agency to support herself and her mother. As a woman in what is considered a man’s world, work has been slow, but a missing persons case is about to change all that.With her 'Fighting Red' lipstick, elegant Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss introduces Billie Walker, an ex war correspondent now working as a private investigator in post-war Sydney, Australia.Still grieving the absence of her photojournalist husband who is missing Europe, Billie Walker has reopened her late father’s private detective agency to support herself and her mother. As a woman in what is considered a man’s world, work has been slow, but a missing persons case is about to change all that.With her 'Fighting Red' lipstick, elegant attire, and a pearl handled Colt strapped to her thigh, Billie is an appealing lead character. Feisty, clever and resourceful, she is a dogged investigator who doesn’t shy away from the more unseemly aspects of the job, and proves she can hold her own when threatened. Billie is ably assisted by Sam, a returned serviceman who acts as her secretary, among other things. Young and handsome, he sports some scars from his time at war, and admires his employer.Though I felt Dead Man Switch got off to somewhat of a slow start, I soon found myself caught up in the intrigue. The mystery of the missing teenager is well plotted,taking unexpected turns, colliding with murder, theft, war crimes, and a personal vendetta. There are scenes of exciting action, including a street brawl, a gun fight, and a car chase, along with tense moments of confrontation.Moss deftly evokes post war NSW, moving between the inner city and the Blue Mountains. Set in 1946, the author incorporates the social issues of the day including rationing, sexism, and racism.I am really looking forward to reading more mysteries featuring Billie Walker, Dead Man Switch is an entertaining and thrilling read.
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  • Gloria Arthur
    January 1, 1970
    Dead Man SwitchMurder, mystery and suspense with a stylish detectiveIt’s Sydney Australia, 1946 and Billie Walker is a Private Inquiry Agent in a predominantly male business, she carries a Colt 1908 pocket semi-automatic with mother of pearl grips (a gift from her mother) hidden in her garter. She's attractive, smart, fearless and has an attachment for her favourite shade of lipstick 'Fighting Red’. Billie employs a male secretary/assistant Sam who is easy on the eye and injured from the war. Dead Man SwitchMurder, mystery and suspense with a stylish detectiveIt’s Sydney Australia, 1946 and Billie Walker is a Private Inquiry Agent in a predominantly male business, she carries a Colt 1908 pocket semi-automatic with mother of pearl grips (a gift from her mother) hidden in her garter. She's attractive, smart, fearless and has an attachment for her favourite shade of lipstick 'Fighting Red’. Billie employs a male secretary/assistant Sam who is easy on the eye and injured from the war.Previously Billy was a reporter chasing Nazi activity across Europe but came home to Australia after her father died to take over his agency. She is a widow to Jack, a photojournalist who went missing during WW11 while also in Europe and is presumed dead.Billie’s main cases are domestic, tailing cheating husbands etc. but her latest case has become more interesting, a seventeen year old boy Adin has gone missing and there are shady characters and Sydney's underworld involved. I really admired Billie’s character. An enjoyable, tense and entertaining read.Thank you to Better Reading for the advanced reading copy
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  • Heidi
    January 1, 1970
    Every now and then, I really love a good PI story, and the combination of plucky female protagonist and historical setting in post-war Sydney made this one an irresistible temptation for me! As we got introduced to Billie Walker, I got definite Kinsey Millhone vibes here (from Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series) – an independent smart woman protagonist in a man’s world, investigating the “old fashioned” way, without the help of internet or databases and the like. I’ve read a few of Moss’ novels and Every now and then, I really love a good PI story, and the combination of plucky female protagonist and historical setting in post-war Sydney made this one an irresistible temptation for me! As we got introduced to Billie Walker, I got definite Kinsey Millhone vibes here (from Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series) – an independent smart woman protagonist in a man’s world, investigating the “old fashioned” way, without the help of internet or databases and the like. I’ve read a few of Moss’ novels and like her writing style, which beautifully brought post-war Sydney to life for me. That I couldn’t fully connect to Billie is probably a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”, and seeing that this is the first of the series, a bond may yet develop later. At times I just felt that Billie’s role as independent PI did not quite gel with the general role of women at the time, a struggle that she may well have overcome but which did not really shine through for me. Perhaps I would have found it more credible had we learnt more about her humble beginnings working for her father (or someone else), than emerging as a fully fledged emancipated woman who just didn’t quite match my impression of the post-war era woman for me. As it was, I found it difficult to get into her head and to understand what motivated her to act the way she did.Saying that, if you like a good detective story with some old fashioned sleuthing and following the clues to get to the answer at the same time the main character does (without the killer twist you will never see coming), then this is the sort of book that should be on your reading list. Post-war Sydney makes a great backdrop against a colourful cast of characters who complimented Billie’s quest to find a missing seventeen-year-old boy.All in all, whilst I did not fully connect to the main character here, I am intrigued by this new series, especially its post-war Sydney setting, which will see me coming back for further instalments in future. Moss writes well and I look forward to Billie Walker’s next case in the hope she will grow on me just like Kinsey did all those years ago.Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review. *blog* *facebook* *instagram*
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  • Terry Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    It was a fantastic read. Grabbed you from the start. Being the first is what I’m assuming will be a series for Billie Walker it starts of fast then introduces you the main characters. Unlike a lot of books that are starting a series it doesn’t get bogged down with everyone’s backstory but does give enough so you know there will be more backstory in future books. The story was great that brought all the parts together to wrap up the story but leave a few threads loose for a follow up book. The It was a fantastic read. Grabbed you from the start. Being the first is what I’m assuming will be a series for Billie Walker it starts of fast then introduces you the main characters. Unlike a lot of books that are starting a series it doesn’t get bogged down with everyone’s backstory but does give enough so you know there will be more backstory in future books. The story was great that brought all the parts together to wrap up the story but leave a few threads loose for a follow up book. The story flowed well & didn’t feel like it struggled to get to where it needed to go. There was always a reason for Billie to be where she needed to be & let the story flow. Ms Walker has a great supporting cast to help her with her cases especially Sam her assistant. I’m hoping his story will grow more in future books. For when the book was set I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did seeing I don’t read books set in that time period (post WW2) I’m glad I got an early copy from Better Reading Preview campaign. I enjoyed Dead Man Switch & recommend it to anyone who enjoys PI books.
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  • Angela
    January 1, 1970
    This story is set in Sydney after World War 2. The historical details are researched and definitely add a layer of interest to the story, including the buildings that were around, the style of dress, the attitudes of and towards war returnees, etc.The plot didn't lose momentum and the ending was satisfying. I'll look forward to more in the series.
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  • Cate
    January 1, 1970
    The talented Tara Moss has returned to crime with this first book in what I hope will be a long and successful series, and has introduced us to a new protagonist, P.I. Billie Walker. It is 1946 in post-war Sydney, where returned soldiers are back in the work force, leaving most of the women, who had stepped up to the plate admirably in the absence of men, expected to go back to their pre-war domestic duties. But not Billie. As a reporter in Europe during the war, Billie worked alongside her The talented Tara Moss has returned to crime with this first book in what I hope will be a long and successful series, and has introduced us to a new protagonist, P.I. Billie Walker. It is 1946 in post-war Sydney, where returned soldiers are back in the work force, leaving most of the women, who had stepped up to the plate admirably in the absence of men, expected to go back to their pre-war domestic duties. But not Billie. As a reporter in Europe during the war, Billie worked alongside her husband, Jack, informing the world of the atrocities they witnessed. Now Jack is missing, presumed dead, and Billie has returned home to reopen her late father's Private Inquiry Agency. When a woman hires Billie to find her missing 17yo son, it sets in motion a chain of events that sees Billie and her assistant, Sam, involved with some dangerous criminals who are not keen on Billie's interference in their activities. Despite the shortage of silk stockings, and being down to the last stick of her favourite lipstick, Billie cuts a fashionable swathe through Sydney in a fascinating era of stylish hats, lift attendants, morning newspapers (remember them?!), and petrol rationing.Part Mae West, part Ava Gardner, and I think, part Tara Moss, Billie is smart, strong and determined, and with her trusty Colt strapped to her thigh, will not rest until her curiosity is satisfied, and the bad guys are brought to justice. Whatever that justice may be.Tara has done an amazing amount of research to bring post-war Sydney alive, and has woven an interesting tale which started as a slow burn, then gripped me more and more as it progressed. A really enjoyable read. Bring on #2!This was an ARC from Better Reading.
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  • Jackie Cook
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars!Sydney 1946Wartime journalist Billie Walker has returned home to re-open her late Father's Private Inquiry agency. Billie's latest case, the disappearance of a teenage boy, is not as open/shut as she hoped with each lead uncovering another piece of the puzzle that refuses to fit. Billie, along with her trusted assistant Sam, are hurled into the underground of criminal activity and find themselves closing in on a case that is more then Billie bargained for. As for some, the war isn't 4.5 stars!Sydney 1946Wartime journalist Billie Walker has returned home to re-open her late Father's Private Inquiry agency. Billie's latest case, the disappearance of a teenage boy, is not as open/shut as she hoped with each lead uncovering another piece of the puzzle that refuses to fit. Billie, along with her trusted assistant Sam, are hurled into the underground of criminal activity and find themselves closing in on a case that is more then Billie bargained for. As for some, the war isn't over.Billie Walker is one bad-ass detective. With her signature red lipstick and a pearl-handled Colt strapped to her thigh, she is a woman in a mans world. Dead Man Switch is a nod to noir mysteries and the beginning of a new detective series. Tara Moss has captured the essence of a post-war Australia, along with the grueling nature of skilled detective work in her latest novel. I loved every second of this book that had me hooked from the start.
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  • Laura Jones
    January 1, 1970
    DEAD MAN SWITCH - TARA MOSSLiving in a post WW2 man’s world, Billie is an independent free thinking woman. During the war she worked as a journalist in Europe, where she fell in love with Jack, a press photographer, who hasn’t been seen for years presumed dead. ..Upon her return to Australia, Billie is working as a Private Inquiry Agent after taking over her Fathers business. The case she is employed to solve is that of a missing young man, and, like all good detective novels everything isn’t as DEAD MAN SWITCH - TARA MOSSLiving in a post WW2 man’s world, Billie is an independent free thinking woman. During the war she worked as a journalist in Europe, where she fell in love with Jack, a press photographer, who hasn’t been seen for years presumed dead. ..Upon her return to Australia, Billie is working as a Private Inquiry Agent after taking over her Fathers business. The case she is employed to solve is that of a missing young man, and, like all good detective novels everything isn’t as straight forward as it seems. . .I believe this to be an incredibly accurate portrayal of what life would have been like for women during this time. I really appreciated the eye to detail and the amount of research involved must have been staggering. I really did feel like I was a part of post war Sydney. ..I am excited to read more adventures of Billie Walker...Anyone who knows me well knows my love of Tara Moss. She has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager. Her intelligence, compassion, honesty and advocacy for women and children have made her someone to look up to. I had the opportunity to meet her two years ago at an event and became so nervous and awestruck I couldn’t even speak (which is a very rare thing). ..Thank you @netgalley @taramossauthor @harpercollinsaustralia ..Publication date 21 October. 💗 📚
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  • Jay Dwight
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsMoss captures the atmosphere of the time - late 1940's post War Sydney. Billie Walker is a private investigator - a female in a man's world - pushing the boundaries and following in her fathers footsteps. Billie is asked to search for a missing 17 year old boy - but there's a lot to uncover in the search for him.An entertaining start to a series with more to come.
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  • Kerry A
    January 1, 1970
    What a treat to read this new book by Tara Moss. Billie Walker has returned from London now that the war has finished to run her recently deceased father's private detective agency. It's 1946, Billie has been left a widow by the war and doesn't want to rely on any man for her future security. There are terrific supporting characters (her 'girl Friday' who is a young man home from the war, both physically and mentally wounded; her mother who's slowly selling off her jewellery to survive and a What a treat to read this new book by Tara Moss. Billie Walker has returned from London now that the war has finished to run her recently deceased father's private detective agency. It's 1946, Billie has been left a widow by the war and doesn't want to rely on any man for her future security. There are terrific supporting characters (her 'girl Friday' who is a young man home from the war, both physically and mentally wounded; her mother who's slowly selling off her jewellery to survive and a bunch of bad guys looking to score easy money). This is the beginning of a new series and I can't wait for the next one. I just hope that Billie can find more of her lipstick of choice; Fighting Red, which now that the war is over has been removed from sale.
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  • Cass Moriarty
    January 1, 1970
    Best-selling author Tara Moss is a sought-after public speaker, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, a UNICEF Ambassador for Child Survival AND an accredited private investigator. But her career as an author began 20 years ago with her debut novel Fetish, and she has returned to her crime writing with a new series featuring a dashing, fabulously stylish heroine, PI Billie Walker, in her novel Dead Man Switch (Harper Collins 2019). Set in Sydney in 1946 in the aftermath of World War Best-selling author Tara Moss is a sought-after public speaker, an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, a UNICEF Ambassador for Child Survival AND an accredited private investigator. But her career as an author began 20 years ago with her debut novel Fetish, and she has returned to her crime writing with a new series featuring a dashing, fabulously stylish heroine, PI Billie Walker, in her novel Dead Man Switch (Harper Collins 2019). Set in Sydney in 1946 in the aftermath of World War Two, Dead Man Switch is a return to the hard-boiled detective novels of the era, but with a twist: Billie Walker is not your typical private inquiry agent; she’s smart, sexy, resourceful, determined and of course, she’s a female operating in what is very much a man’s world. The war has claimed her beloved husband Jack and she misses her life with him terribly, not only their intimate relationship but their work together as journalist and photographer, recording the horrors revealed at the close of the war. Now Billie is back in Australia and has inherited her late father’s detective agency. Most of her work involves following cheating husbands, but a new case – the disappearance of an adolescent boy – is proving to be much more of a challenge, and she soon finds herself deep in the murky world of smugglers, murderers and gangsters. Billie is a fantastic character with so much potential for future novels in this series. Her backstory is interesting and her feisty personality and no-nonsense attitude make her a heroine we want to champion right from the start. Her love of the finer things in life – beautiful clothes, good food and wine, a fast car – do not detract from her pragmatism, but only add to her charm. And the other characters introduced in this book, who will no doubt continue to feature in future books in the series, are also well-drawn and memorable, particularly her eccentric mother, Ella (and her companion Alma) and Billie’s staunch, capable, loyal, endearing (and rather attractive) secretary-cum-assistant, Sam. Other minor characters, from lift operators to policemen (and women), from the villains to the victims, are drawn with care and detail. In Dead Man Switch, Billie is working two cases: firstly, the young man who has disappeared under mysterious circumstances, which only become more sinister as she digs further into the details; and secondly, the anxiety of a young Aboriginal woman for her friends who she worries may be in a compromising situation. The research around the circumstances of Indigenous people at the time, and the laws under which they were forced to live, feels authentic and plausible. One particular girl, Shyla, is another great character who I hope may continue to appear in forthcoming books. The research generally for this novel is painstaking, detailed and meticulous. The era of post-World War Two is replicated in everything from the rationing to the clothing, from the food to the societal views. Returned disfigured soldiers are common, and the novel makes clear the legacy of war and the trauma faced by those who survived. But at the heart of this story is the strong female character of Billie herself – a self-possessed and persistent woman who is determined to live life on her own terms. She often faces discrimination and negative attitudes, but her resourcefulness and grace, her wit and cheeky sense of humour, her compassion and fearlessness (and her good taste) stand her in good stead for whatever challenges and obstacles she endures. Her ‘woman’s intuition’ often kicks in (‘the little woman in her stomach tells her something is wrong’) and she relies on this sixth sense as much as her knowledge, her experience and the small Colt pistol strapped to her garter. An interesting addition to this fictional story is the inclusion of the very real historical character Lillian Armfield, one of the first female police officers to join the force in 1915 (and well documented in Leigh Straw’s non-fiction book ‘Lillian Armfield: How Australia’s first female detective took on Tilly Devine and the Razor Gangs and changed the face of the force’). The two women’s paths cross on several occasions, and Billie and Lillian share a similar robust ambition and business-like attitude to their professions.This is a fast-paced crime story that really picks up speed as it rockets towards its conclusion. The characters are nostalgic, the era well-researched, and the plot tense. But no matter how bad the situation in which Billie finds herself embroiled, she retains her impeccable manners, her good taste, her sense of humour and her mischievous and chipper attitude.
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  • Carol - Reading Writing and Riesling
    January 1, 1970
    Thrilling!
  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss.Well this was one book I didn’t want to put down!! The main character Billie Walker is a P.I. who is tasked with a missing persons case, which takes her to the underworld of Sydney. I loved the character Billie and I want to be Billie, she is smart, determined and tough as nails and doesn’t get scared easily.An extremely well written murder mystery that flowed so well I was constantly asking myself who, why and Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss.Well this was one book I didn’t want to put down!! The main character Billie Walker is a P.I. who is tasked with a missing persons case, which takes her to the underworld of Sydney. I loved the character Billie and I want to be Billie, she is smart, determined and tough as nails and doesn’t get scared easily.An extremely well written murder mystery that flowed so well I was constantly asking myself who, why and how? Set in a time when women didn’t work, were expected to dress and act like ladies and certainly not a P.I. chasing the baddies with her best friend a pearl handled colt.I highly recommend this mystery with its loveable and shady characters and twists and turns. This won’t be my last Tara Moss book!! #BRPreview##betterreading##TaraMoss##deadmanswitch#
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  • Dominique Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Tara Moss' Dead Man's Switch is the first of a new series set in post-WWII Sydney, featuring female P.I. Billie Walker – described as 'smart and sexy, with a dash of Mae West humour, she's a hard-boiled detective with a twist.' I don't normally read from the detective genre, which may influence my opinion, but there were a number of things I found bothersome, which I don't think are a reflection of the genre. The first was too much use of description – from multiple adjectives for simple Tara Moss' Dead Man's Switch is the first of a new series set in post-WWII Sydney, featuring female P.I. Billie Walker – described as 'smart and sexy, with a dash of Mae West humour, she's a hard-boiled detective with a twist.' I don't normally read from the detective genre, which may influence my opinion, but there were a number of things I found bothersome, which I don't think are a reflection of the genre. The first was too much use of description – from multiple adjectives for simple everyday objects [repeated again and again], to page-long explanations of the architecture of a building or of the surrounding countryside, and long paragraphs of the protagonist's thoughts and feelings, repeated with little change throughout the book. I respect the amount of research that went into this book, and I realise Moss wanted to set the scene, but the effect was often heavy-handed and encouraged skimming. I also found the characters somewhat clichéd, and if Billie Walker is supposed to be 'smart', her actions often belie this [eg: deciding to rescue four aboriginal girls singlehandedly from their ex-Nazi sexual abuser in the middle of the night, when he has no idea he's been found out and she knows police are on their way]. Other things were simply unbelievable – for example, it took three women to carry - with great difficulty - a dead man wrapped in a rug, but only one man to lift the said corpse, now in a 'big steamer trunk', onto the luggage rack of a car. Having said that, I think the plot development was good, with Moss exploring a number of issues, and the suspense built effectively with ever-increasing momentum. Thank you to Better Reading and HarperCollins for this ARC.
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  • Gretchen Bernet-Ward
    January 1, 1970
    A great book for the novice crime reader. With plenty of adjectives and story recapping, Tara Moss has written a nice entry point for those graduating from cosy crime into something slightly more improper. The implication is that Billie Walker, private inquiry agent, has a wild past but now her business seems flat and her ex-soldier assistant Samuel Baker seems dull. Billie, compared to film star Ava Gardner, seems a bit too reined-in for someone with such a pedigree, her father was a former A great book for the novice crime reader. With plenty of adjectives and story recapping, Tara Moss has written a nice entry point for those graduating from cosy crime into something slightly more improper. The implication is that Billie Walker, private inquiry agent, has a wild past but now her business seems flat and her ex-soldier assistant Samuel Baker seems dull. Billie, compared to film star Ava Gardner, seems a bit too reined-in for someone with such a pedigree, her father was a former policeman turned PI and she inherited his business.Chunks of author research are on show (think WWII atrocities) and the story starts with Mrs Lettie Brown of Brown & Co Fine Furs visiting Billie’s agency, asking for help to find her missing son Adin. Money is tight so Billie takes the case. There are a lot of people draping themselves around the 1940s Sydney scene which slowed the action for me. Somebody is spying on Billie from afar and it’s not starchy DI Hank Cooper from Central Police. First up we meet stoic lift operator John Wilson, and representing a dying aristocracy we are introduced to Billie’s mother Baroness Ella von Hooft and her lady’s maid Alma in a darkly humorous (if not illegal) action. Quiet Shyla, part of the stolen generations, is another key character in the narrative. Overall, I didn’t click with any special character, even Billie who makes mistakes to further the plot. Billie is indirectly responsible for four deaths, although she herself does hang by a thread in one dire situation. She bribes men with an Australian shilling. Hard to believe that when they were phased out in 1966 one shilling was worth 10 cents. In a Blue Mountains car chase (filmscript anyone?) I felt nothing and it was so predictable it was corny. Was this due to the writing, editing, or my longing for a more vigorous encounter like in the final chapters? Oh well, it is crime fiction after all.With a view to a series, this first book is a quick read with tasty clothes and much eyebrow-raising and head tilting. It just scraps in with my three stars and I sincerely hope Book 2 ups-the-ante. In the meantime, you will learn what to do with Fighting Red, the meaning of ‘dead man switch’ and discover what happens to young Adin Brown.NOTE This debut Billie Walker Mystery may also be titled 'The War Widow' due to Billie's photojournalist husband missing, presumed dead. Images on my blog-- https://thoughtsbecomewords.com/2019/...♥ Gretchen Bernet-Ward
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  • Amra Pajalic
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great read with a strong female character. Billie Walker is a private investigator in her father's former agency after returning from WWII where she was an investigative reporter. I loved the historical setting and bringing to life of Australia in 1946. There were great mystery turns and a great set up for a series to untangle. This was a fun read and I left the world feeling bereft. I want more and can't wait for the next Billie adventure.
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  • Bozica
    January 1, 1970
    DNF 26%A big thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins Australia and Author Tara Moss for this ARC.I’m not sure why this book didn’t hold my interest because it ticked so many boxes. Aussie Author I’ve read before Set in my hometown Sydney References to WWII Mystery I found the pacing slow and the flashbacks to the past interrupted the flow of the story in the present. But to be honest I wanted to know what happened to Jack back in Austria during WWII more than I did to Adin Brown - Billie’s DNF 26%A big thank you to NetGalley, HarperCollins Australia and Author Tara Moss for this ARC.I’m not sure why this book didn’t hold my interest because it ticked so many boxes. Aussie Author I’ve read before ✔️ Set in my hometown Sydney ✔️ References to WWII ✔️ Mystery ✔️ I found the pacing slow and the flashbacks to the past interrupted the flow of the story in the present. But to be honest I wanted to know what happened to Jack back in Austria during WWII more than I did to Adin Brown - Billie’s current case.Then we have the added mystery about Frank the strange man in the big house in Upper Colo ......this was yet another thread and maybe it was too much and making it busy....It was very descriptive and I could easily visualise the location, the attire and the setting the author was trying to convey.
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  • Pat K
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars This was an easy read/ listen , a little in the style of Miss Fisher Mysteries, but considerably better. Historic mystery with female detective . Interesting post WW11 Jewish storyline.
  • Meg Vann
    January 1, 1970
    Meticulous research and a bold take on a 1940s Australian woman PI make this a wonderful book. The Aboriginal characters are well developed, too. This is the start of a savvy, polished and entertaining series.
  • Tony Nielsen
    January 1, 1970
    Tara Moss is already a best-selling author. In "Dead Man's Switch" she creates a convincing crime story, the first in a new series featuring Billie Walker. The timing is 1946 and the location is Sydney. Billie has inherited het father's business as a private investigator. It's a man's world but Billie is tough as nails, her world sharpened by bereavement through the loss of her husband, a photojournalist missing in post war Europe.Mostly Billie's bread and butter is the usual husband and wife Tara Moss is already a best-selling author. In "Dead Man's Switch" she creates a convincing crime story, the first in a new series featuring Billie Walker. The timing is 1946 and the location is Sydney. Billie has inherited het father's business as a private investigator. It's a man's world but Billie is tough as nails, her world sharpened by bereavement through the loss of her husband, a photojournalist missing in post war Europe.Mostly Billie's bread and butter is the usual husband and wife stuff, chasing up evidence of their infidelities. Her new case though involves locating a missing young man, a case that takes Billie into the rough and tumble of Sydney's ruthless underworld. We're talking bad men, murderers among them.Billie and her able assistant set out on a race against time to locate their client's son. Its a pulsating read, capturing the establishment of a new character for Tara Moss, with a plot that leaves you guessing until the climactic end.
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  • Bree T
    January 1, 1970
    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 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.***A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for the purpose of an honest review***
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    This rating may very well be a reflection of “it’s not you, it’s me”. The book is well written and Tara Moss definitely knows how to set a scene, unfortunately I just didn’t personally connect with this book. Perhaps if I had read a Tara Moss book before I might have enjoyed it more? I’ve seen reviews where people have said that this is written very much in her style - so perhaps it is just what you’re used to and connection to previous works. After Victory in the Pacific Day women were This rating may very well be a reflection of “it’s not you, it’s me”. The book is well written and Tara Moss definitely knows how to set a scene, unfortunately I just didn’t personally connect with this book. Perhaps if I had read a Tara Moss book before I might have enjoyed it more? I’ve seen reviews where people have said that this is written very much in her style - so perhaps it is just what you’re used to and connection to previous works. After Victory in the Pacific Day women were expected to walk out of the aviation plants and munitions factories and news offices and hospitals they’d run successfully during the war and abandon the independence of a wage to return to their kitchens, but Billie had never been one of those women, hadn’t been raised that way, and she certainly wasn’t going to bow to the pressure now.Dead Man Switch follows Billie Walker, an ex-war correspondent turned Private Investigator as she takes on a missing persons case in Sydney, Australia. This book says a lot about a lot, and I feel that a lot of the points raised were incredibly valid - particularly the social commentary on what a post-war society would look like and how that impacts every day life, especially from a woman’s point of view. The book starts off very slowly and I don’t know if it ever really increases in pace, personally, because it felt like a slog just trying to get through the book regardless of where I was up to with the pages or with the plot. When I have to slog through a book with little enjoyment, I don’t tend to feel particularly rewarded when I get to the end. Billie is a really strong, well-written female character - of which I would expect nothing less from Tara Moss. I think for fans of Tara’s previous work, this book would be a winner - unfortunately it just missed the mark for me. Thank you to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    Dead Man's Switch is the kind of book I wish I could read for the first time all over again. It's clever and fun with a lot of intrigue and mystery. If someone had dropped Veronica Mars into a Raymond Chandler novel set in Sydney - this is the book you would get. The cast of characters are interesting and I hope to get to know them better in future books. They are all recovering from war and trying to move on however best they can. Billie Walker is a gem to follow as she steps into her fathers Dead Man's Switch is the kind of book I wish I could read for the first time all over again. It's clever and fun with a lot of intrigue and mystery. If someone had dropped Veronica Mars into a Raymond Chandler novel set in Sydney - this is the book you would get. The cast of characters are interesting and I hope to get to know them better in future books. They are all recovering from war and trying to move on however best they can. Billie Walker is a gem to follow as she steps into her fathers shoes as a private eye. She's a woman in a mans world and uses her differences as an advantage. With a 1908 pocket semiautomatic tucked into her handmade thigh garter and her scarred new apprentices as backup, Billie takes whatever cases she can to pay the bills. I loved Billie. Her vintage glamour, her humour and her determination to keep afloat after the war took so much from her - Billie is my kind of woman. This was my first novel from the author for me but it won't be the last. I really enjoyed her style and appreciated how well researched the novel was - something many authors struggle with when writing about a bygone era but this book excelled at. Bonus points for the references to fashion and general forties style. Plot wise, Dead Man's Switch is satisfying. Loved how it all played out and the pace was on point. There's a few things not tied up entirely but that's just left me even more excited for the next instalment. But until then I'll make do reading Tara Moss' other works.
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