Month: July 2021

Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

Posted July 21, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Dead Man Switch by Tara MossTitle: Dead Man Switch (Goodreads)
Author: Tara Moss
Series: Billie Walker Mystery #1
Published: HarperCollins, 2019
Pages: 368
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

After 19 books, mainly from her Mak Vanderwall crime series and a YA paranormal series, Tara Moss is trying her hand at hard-boiled fiction. Dead Man Switch is the first book in the new Billie Walker series set in Sydney in the late 1940s. I knew I had to try this book out for two main reasons, one I love hard-boiled literature and was interested in checking out a novel set in Australia and secondly, I wanted to see how Moss would handle the female detective approach.

Without going into details about the plot, it’s a missing persons case that leads to Billie Walker uncovering a much bigger secret; I think reviewing this novel needs to focus away from the storyline. Moss really shines in the research and exploring the sexism Billie faces in her work. Dead Man Switch never refers to Billie Walker as a detective, it does make references to her as a private investigator and this stood out to me because Australian laws does not permit the use of the term detective outside the police department. Little facts like this really reminded me of the importance of research and they helped keep the novel hard-boiled without Americanising the plot.

Obviously, gender would play a big role in this book, and Tara Moss seemed to play with this in a fun way; Billie’s assistant Sam was happy to help a woman with any task necessary for the case but then others criticised her for taking a man’s job. Billie took over the business when her father had died, which is the reasoning behind her profession but now that the war was over, people thought she should leave this kind of work to men that needed work. This was a great way to explore the sexism and gender divide of the era and helped enhance Billie as a strong, take no nonsense character.

I had fun reading this book, and I am interested to see where Tara Moss takes the Billie Walker series. I am very particular in my crime novel picks and I wish this was a little darker and grittier, but I have to respect that Moss has plans for this character. There are not enough strong women detectives in crime novels, particularly in hard-boiled novels, so in a genre normally dominated by boring white men, this is a great change. I have no idea when book two will be released but I will be sure to read it. It is hard to review a crime novel, because the plot and characters play such a significant part of the reading experience, but I hope I have convinced someone to give Dead Man Switch a chance. For all the American readers of this review, this book is called The War Widow on your continent, which gives you a little insight on Billie Walker’s social situation.

2021 Mid Year Check-In

Posted July 1, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

We have reached the middle of the year, well technically July 2nd is the middle, but we will avoid being too technical. I will try not to complain about the lack of reading I have done so far in 2021, or the fact that I have not written in this blog in so long. While these facts are weighing heavily on my mind, I am trying to be a little more positive. All in all, 2021 has been a good year for me, while I would like to have an income again, I have been blessed with a relatively stress-free year, full of love and support. I do want to go through my reading highlights of the year as a form of a half-yearly check in.

Firstly, there is the Invisible Cities project, which has been so much fun. I have really enjoyed seeing people read books from the different countries, and while I have not been keeping up with my goals for this project, it is a joy to be involved. There is still time to join (check out the Discord), in July we are focusing on Israel, Ethiopia and Panama. August will be South Korea and Nigeria, we decided to reduce the number of countries because people wanted to read from every country, and we did not want anyone to feel like this is a struggle when they try to keep up. I might as well announce that in September the countries we are forcing on are Chile and Palestine. If you are interested in reading books from around the world, you are more that welcome to join us, there is no requirements to read from these counties. They are a structured way to explore the world.

I have only read 27 books so far this year, for me that is a low figure and I feel like I was in a reading slump for most of the year. I tried to combat the slump but reading some crime novels, as they serve as palate cleansers for me. Crime novels often get me out of a slump but have not been that effective this time around. Thankfully I do feel like I am out of this slump, and I can get back to my normally reading schedule. Let’s look at some of the highs and lows of the past six months.

I started off the year reading Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss which was a fun little Australian crime novel set in 1940s Sydney, but then I read Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette). This book was amazing and devastating, it still haunts me, but worth it. I finally read Themystery.doc by Matthew McIntosh, a book I’ve been wanting to read but the 1669 page count was intimating, however it was very readable and because it’s a blend of emails, chat logs, photographs and more, I flew through the book. A low point in my reading was because of a book club book, called Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. This book was not my style, there was a point in the novel, where the narrator described everything, they picked up at a supermarket, and that type of writing feels tedious to me. I also did not enjoy Ariadne by Jennifer Saint, it was described as a feminist mythology retelling, but it was pretty much the same story, just from a woman’s perspective. I did not see any difference in the story at all, and I prefer a retelling to offer something different, instead of the same story told by a different major character.

The true reading highlight so far this year is discovering Carmen Maria Machado. At the recommendation of Stephanie from That’s What She Read and Books in the Freezer, I picked up In The Dream House and fell in love with that book, so much so, that I had to read Her Body and Other Parties soon after. While I loved the short story collection, her memoir just hit differently and quickly became a new favourite. I loved the way she wrote about her of experiences but the fact that she wrote it in second person really felt like she was including others who have suffered from domestic abuse into the story.

Having a look at my reading stats, I am surprised just how different my reading has been so far this year. The fact that 50% of the reading has been digitally (ebooks and audiobooks) was surprising, and almost 70% of the books came from the library, even though I have so much to read on my shelves. I am still focusing on world literature, but only 60% were books translated, which feels low to me, but I think due to the fact that I’ve read so little and trying to read my book club books, it does make sense. Hope everyone has a better reading experience and would love to hear what books have been the highlights so far in 2021.