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Wednesday 13 March 2024

‘The War Widow’ by Tara Moss

Published by Verve Books,
7 March 2024.
ISBN: 978-0-85730867-2 (PBO)

After a challenging few year as a war correspondent through World War 1, you’d be forgiven for thinking Billie Walker would welcome a quiet time back home in Sydney. But quiet isn’t Billie’s style. Cheated of her journalism career by men returning from the war, she is following in her dead father’s footsteps by reopening his private investigation agency – and as one in the eye for the editors who consigned her to flower shows and lost children, she employs a male assistant.   

After a spate of finding evidence for wives looking to divorce or expose cheating husbands, she finally gets a case she can sink her very capable teeth into. Adin, the teenage son of a furrier has gone missing, and his mother is reluctant to offer any information which might be useful to Billie and her assistant Sam; all she will say is, ‘He is a good boy.’

Fortunately. his friends are more forthcoming, and lead Billie to The Dancers, an upmarket, sophisticated nightclub, to which Adin is far too young and naive to gain admittance. Billie and Sam are neither young nor naive and know how fit in to with the clientele – and that’s when the plot begins to thicken. Where is Adin? Why are his parents so reticent? What happened to Jack, Billie’s adored husband who disappeared in the line of duty? How does Shayla, a young aborigine woman and Billie’s best informant, fit into it all?

Tara Moss knows how to create an era, paint a background, build a character and construct narrative pace and tension: a series of key factors that blend into an unusual mystery novel which not only brings to life a world which will be alien, and therefore new, to most readers, but also explores the attitudes which prevailed in the post-war 1940s, a time of change all over the world. 

There’s a bit of everything: seedy back streets, 1940s glamour, gangster-ish goings-on, nostalgic romance, gory murder, all with a kick-ass heroine right in the middle of it. It adds up to a stylishly written, page-turning mystery with plenty of action and plenty of heart. Read it and see.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Tara Moss is an internationally bestselling author, human rights activist, documentary host, and model. Her crime novels have been published in nineteen countries and thirteen languages, and her memoir, The Fictional Woman, was a #1 international bestseller. She is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has received the Edna Ryan Award for significant contributions to feminist debate and for speaking out for women and children, and in 2017 she was recognized as one of the Global Top 50 Diversity Figures in Public Life.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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