The War Widow

The new internationally bestselling novel by Tara Moss, now out with HarperCollins Canada, and launching with Dutton Books Penguin Random House USA in Dec 2020.

The war may be officially over, but journalist Billie Walker’s search for a missing young immigrant man will plunge her right back into the danger and drama she thought she’d left behind in Europe in this thrilling tale of courage and secrets set in glamorous postwar Sydney. 

Long-listed for the 2020 Davitt Awards (under title Dead Man Switch)

Short-listed for the 2020 Danger Prize (under title Dead Man Switch)

The war may be officially over, but journalist Billie Walker’s search for a missing young immigrant man will plunge her right back into the danger and drama she thought she’d left behind in Europe in this thrilling tale of courage and secrets set in glamorous postwar Sydney.

Sydney, 1946. Though war correspondent Billie Walker is happy to finally be home, for her the heady postwar days are tarnished by the loss of her father and the disappearance in Europe of her husband, Jack. To make matters worse, now that the war is over, the newspapers are sidelining her reporting talents to prioritize jobs for returning soldiers. But Billie is a survivor and she’s determined to take control of her own future. So she reopens her late father’s business, a private investigation agency, and, slowly, the women of Sydney come knocking.

At first, Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating husbands. Then, a young man, the son of European immigrants, goes missing, and Billie finds herself on a dangerous new trail that will lead up into the highest levels of Sydney society and down into its underworld. What is the young man’s connection to an exclusive dance club and a high class auction house? When the people Billie questions about the young man start to turn up dead, Billie is thrown into the path of Detective Inspector Hank Cooper. Will he take her seriously or will he just get in her way? As the danger mounts and Billie realizes that much more than one young man’s life is at stake, it becomes clear that though the war was won, it is far from over.

'Neatly incorporates history, social commentary, and a satisfying mystery in one appealing package. More, please!' - Kirkus Reviews.

'The amazing Tara Moss has created a cinematic and important feminist noir— dark as midnight velvet, and tough as steel. Do not miss this!' - Hank Phillippi Ryan – USA Today bestselling author of THE FIRST TO LIE, Mary Higgins Clark and five-time Agatha Award Winner

Published in Australia/New Zealand as Dead Man Switch.

20 reviews for The War Widow

  1. Joanne Harris, award-winning author of Chocolat

    A cracking thriller, with a marvellous, strong, flamboyant heroine. Loved it.

  2. Angela Meyer, award-winning author of Joan Smokes and A Superior Spectre

    I so enjoyed getting to know Tara Moss’s wonderful new character, Billie Walker, in 1940s Sydney-set mystery [The War Widow]. Immersive, well-paced, entertaining, thoughtful – so enjoyable!

  3. The Sun Herald

    Tara Moss has created a streetwise, seductive and staunchly feminist sleuth who even darns her own stockings…[Billie Walker] is a former war correspondent, whose photojournalist husband is missing, presumed dead…The war might be over, but the novel is deeply interested in its wreckage.

  4. Readings Books

    True to its era down to the very fabric around Billie’s shoulders, this is a smartmouthed shot straight to the chest.

  5. Lynda La Plante, CBE, acclaimed author of Prime Suspect

    A terrific read.

  6. Ellen Keith, nationally bestselling author of The Dutch Wife

    Billie Walker is the type of heroine I’d love to befriend: resourceful, clever, adventurous, and a true fashionista. With a gripping plot and the perfect dose of history and intrigue, The War Widow has all the elements of a great page-turner.

  7. Halley Sutton, author of The Lady Upstairs

    Tara Moss’s THE WAR WIDOW is an excellent novel and an even better springboard for its crackerjack heroine: the indomitable Billie Walker. Like a harder-boiled Phryne Fisher meets Martha Gellhorn, Billie is the best kind of heroine: fun, flawed, smart, feminist, and feisty. Even down the darkest of paths—including but not limited to Nazi war profiteers, shady mobsters, cops on the take, and more—Billie is a beacon of light, never losing her sense of justice, or her enjoyment in life (and a good coupe of champagne!). Honestly, I’d follow Billie anywhere.

  8. Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

    In Billie Walker, Moss has conjured up one kick-ass 1940s heroine: a tough-talking, hardboiled gumshoe who’s as adept with a pistol as she is on the dance floor, haunted by a tragic past, and unafraid to take on the darkest of foes. An artful, original take on noir suspense that resonates in today’s times.

  9. Publishers Weekly

    Rich period detail and a fierce, feminist heroine distinguish this stylish twist on the classic 1940s detective novel.

  10. Kirkus Reviews

    …the truth behind Adin’s abduction, in a very Dashiell Hammett–like turn of events, involves Nazi war criminals, stolen treasures… Billie is a smart, glamorous, kind, and well-turned-out woman, and her addition to the world of literary private detectives is welcome and deserved. She carries a bit of the hard-boiled tradition on her shoulders—the vulnerability, the brashness—while providing a completely feminine perspective on both the crimes and the approach to crime-solving. Moss clearly did a lot of research for the novel…The setting feels simultaneously familiar and exotic. Neatly incorporates history, social commentary, and a satisfying mystery in one appealing package. More, please!

  11. Booklist

    Thoroughly researched and anchored by the spunky, sympathetic heroine at its heart, this is a perfect read for fans of Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series & readers will finish the book clamoring for Billie’s next case.

  12. Sam Wiebe, award-winning author of Invisible Dead

    Fun and extremely well-paced, a feminist blend of The Third Man and hardboiled detective fiction.

  13. The Ormsby Review

    Tara Moss has created another excellent piece of crime fiction with The War Widow…The book is set in postwar Australia in 1946 with a heroine, Billie Walker, who is both glamorous and streetwise. She is a woman who refuses to adapt to what women were expected to do after the war was over — marry, go back to the kitchen as housewives, and have babies…Tara Moss has created a top-notch protagonist in The War Widow.

  14. Savvy Reader

    [The War Widow] might just be one of the coolest books we’ve ever featured. Billed as a historical thriller, The War Widow is historical fiction like you’ve never seen it before…A thrilling tale that’s equal parts entertaining and emotional, we promise that The War Widow is one book you do NOT want to miss.

  15. Winnipeg Free Press

    Moss explores important historical events and dark issues with contemporary references… Every day Billie must deal with the pressures and prejudices against women. The postwar setting, when women’s contributions to the war effort suddenly became worthless, is particularly appropriate. Her experiences resonate today…The War Widow is a fast-paced beach read (if we’re allowed to bask on the sand this summer), but it’s not easy on your conscience. [You will] reflect on how far we’ve come… and how far we haven’t.

  16. Library Journal, USA

    Billie must deal with a situation that quickly becomes just as dangerous as anything she had faced during the war. The case of Adin Brown involves stakeouts at glamorous nightclubs, romance, fugitive Nazi war criminals, and 50mph car chases, adding suspense and drama to this superb page-turner. VERDICT Moss (“Makedde Vanderwall” series) has created a thrilling historical novel of post-war Australia that will engross readers from the first page to the last. This book deserves to be added to the top of the list of must-read titles. Book clubs may wish to consider this title as well.

  17. News and Sentinel USA

    This is a great hard-boiled detective story with a female twist that will bring plenty of intrigue along the way. Get set for a new favorite detective.

  18. The Vancouver Sun

    Tara Moss’s new protagonist, Billie Walker, is fresh addition to crime-novel genre… Set in 1946, Moss’s fictional story is a fun read drenched in wonderful postwar feminism. Walker is a character you will cheer for.

  19. Hank Phillippi Ryan – USA Today bestselling author of THE FIRST TO LIE, Mary Higgins Clark and five-time Agatha Award Winner

    Brilliantly atmospheric and completely immersive – – this stylishly fierce adventure Into post-war darkness will hold you captive on every page. The amazing Tara Moss has created a cinematic and important feminist noir— dark as midnight velvet, and tough as steel. Do not miss this!

  20. Mystery and Suspense Magazine

    …the action and adventure never stops… Billie Walker is a wonderful new character who takes us through the history and mysteries of the overlooked setting of Australia.