Dead Man Switch is set in 1946 post-war Sydney, Australia. Which in itself is a fascinating time period and nothing gets me like a book set where I live. It is so enjoyable to read how the area has changed and how it remains the same. The immediate post-war era is an interesting time period which is rarely written about.
Our heroine is Billie Walker, a private investigator who has taken over the family business of her late father. However, unlike most women post-war Billie refuses to buckle under the pressure, and continues to try and make her business work. Billie is commissioned to search for a missing teenage boy, which leads her into a world of trouble.
Moss’s writing is unapologetically feminist. She writes strong female leads who are brave and vulnerable at the same time, which is how we as a society are beginning to recognise feminist strength. Billie employs a male veteran as her secretary and confidently manages him with total ease. Strong female characters abound in this novel, including Billie’s mother Ella who is a fabulous character I’d love to read a novel based around. The novel is also wonderfully humorous, such as when Billie enlists her mother to help her discard a body at 6am on a Sunday morning and Ella remarks “He looks a lot more like a body rolled up in a rug than I was hoping.”
Billie is a fabulously courageous female lead. Through her escapades in a Sydney nightclub, she has her drink spiked. You assume she will be predictably confused and fall asleep, but instead she knows what’s up and carries on with her investigation long into the night!
Billie’s colleague Shyla who is a young mysterious Indigenous woman, whom I likened to Lisbeth from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in my imagination, becomes another mysterious central character also. The novel takes an unexpected turn by interweaving the female Jewish experience of the Holocaust, with that of young Indigenous Australian women. Billie’s investigation leads us to an explosive ending, where she doesn’t allow the men to become the heroes.
Dead Man Switch is a brilliant female empowered crime novel, which will have you hanging for a sequel!
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. Visit her at taramoss.com.