Book Review for “The Ghosts of Paris” by Tara Moss.
Summary: “It’s 1947. The world continues to grapple with the fallout of the Second World War, and former war reporter Billie Walker is finding her feet as an investigator. When a wealthy client hires Billie and her assistant Sam to track down her missing husband, the trail leads Billie back to London and Paris, where Billie’s own painful memories also lurk. Jack Rake, Billie’s wartime lover and, briefly, husband, is just one of the millions of people who went missing in Europe during the war. What was his fate after they left Paris together? As Billie’s search for her client’s husband takes her to both the swanky bars at Paris’s famous Ritz hotel and to the dank basements of the infamous Paris morgue, she’ll need to keep her gun at the ready, because something even more terrible than a few painful memories might be following her around the city of lights . . .”
Age: Adult; Genres: Mystery, Crime, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical; Australia – Sydney; UK – London; France – Paris; Other Categories: Novel, Sequel, Series (Billie Walker #2), Thriller, LGBTQIA+.
Before I read the first installment of the Billie Walker books – “The War Widow” – I never thought that I would enjoy a thriller novel. But Moss really got my heart thumping with some of the scenes she had in that novel, and I’ve been waiting with bated breath for this second book ever since. I was therefore not surprised when the prologue already got my blood racing and my first reaction was “damn, this woman can write!” Okay, yeah… things did cool down a bit with the opening chapter, but the embers were still there, and all Moss had to do was wait until the right moment, and blow on them a little to get the flames back up. Sorry for the metaphor here but I think you get my drift.
As before, there’s a whole lot going for this book. We get back to Billie, who I truly loved in the first novel. She’s got that same spunk and internal “little woman” that signals danger for her. She’s still wearing that bright red lipstick, and uses its application at every opportunity, especially when she’s acting calm and collected, while beneath it, she’s feeling apprehensive. We get a fully self-empowered woman who has a hunky man working as her secretary/assistant, who comes in pretty handy. Plus, she’s got her priorities straight (at least to my mind) regarding several political things. For example, she isn’t judgmental regarding homosexuals, and she isn’t happy about the mistreatment of and prejudices against Shyla, the native Australian woman who sometimes assists her with investigations. Yes, she’s my kind of woman!
Now, Billie’s first case in this novel initially felt a bit mundane, but Moss used it as a bit of a set up for the bigger case she gets, which was very clever. I also liked how Moss indicated that Billie had several clients, and that she wasn’t twiddling her thumbs waiting for her next big break. Furthermore, the big case from the first novel also comes into play here, which I found very realistic. That said, I’m sorry to tell you all that if my review tempts you to pick up this book, I would recommend you read the first one beforehand, in order to fully appreciate this story. Mind you, I think Moss does give us enough information from the first book in this one to keep us from being total in the dark, but still…
Admittedly, there were a couple things here that I wasn’t sure about, but I ultimately accepted. For example, often Billie and others use the word “goddess” here where others would say “god” instead. This is a very feminist substitution, and while I don’t doubt it was used, I’m not sure it was as popular as Moss seems to make it feel. I was also a touch surprised at some of Billie’s reactions to certain characters who show up in this book (sorry, for being vague but… no spoilers). I also felt that because there were several plot lines, the conclusions for both the two main mysteries felt a bit too convenient and rushed for my taste.
Even so, these were mostly minor niggles, and Moss once again got my blood pressure rising in a couple of places, but she also had me laughing at some of the dialog. Plus, Moss left us with a few pieces of unfinished business in this novel, but that’s to be expected with a good series – keep them begging for more! Of course, this means I’m now going to be stalking Moss across social media until we get another installment, which isn’t really a bad thing. I’d say this deserves 4.75 stars out of five, but I’ll round it up for the graphic below. If you want some heart-pounding thrills, from a strong female protagonist, Billie Walker is your woman!
Dutton – Penguin Publishing Group released “The Ghosts of Paris” by Tara Moss on June 7, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via NetGalley.