a really nice series starter….
This is my first book by Tara Moss, who has previously written another series featuring a protagonist with a Canadian/Australian background, much like Moss’s own. The War Widow, however, appears to be the start of a new historical series for Moss, and I hope that’s the case, because I enjoyed this book a lot.
The War Widow is set in Australia, just after World War II, when soldiers are returning home, and women are being asked (told) to give up the jobs and careers they had during the war to make room for the returnees. Billie has been a war correspondent during the war, but now journalism jobs are mostly shut off for women, so she decides to take over her father’s private investigation business. This is a tough situation I can relate to, because it’s the same thing that happened to my mom, who never really reconciled to the loss of her career dreams. At the same time though, the returning soldiers needed jobs too, so – as I said – tough all around. Still, my familiarity (albeit at second-hand) with Billie Walker’s situation helped The War Widow grab me right from the start. And when, a few pages in, Billie also casually makes the observation that “women’s intuition” is, in men, simply called “knowledge”, I was hooked. I ended up reading this book far too late into the night!
In addition to channeling my inner feminist, Moss does a really great job of describing post-World War II Australia. To me, the chance to painlessly learn a bit about a different time/place is one of the best features of a historical mystery, and I also really liked Moss’s historical notes, which were sort of hidden in her Acknowledgements section at the end. And she tackles, and handles well, some of the tough issues around Australia’s treatment of its native population during that era.
Oh yeah, and while I was enjoying the time, and the place, and the atmosphere, there was also a really nice plot to keep me engaged. I don’t usually talk about plots too much, to avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say that a couple of main threads twist and turn and eventually reach satisfying resolutions, while not eliminating the possibility of more books in the future.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed The War Widow, hope there are more books coming, and now intend to go back and find some of the books in Moss’s other series. Please note that for me, four stars is a great review – I tend to save five stars for maybe one in thirty or forty books I read. But I liked this book more than just four stars, so it’s getting four-and-a-half. And finally, my thanks to Dutton/Edelweiss for the advance reading copy.