A best-seller when it was first published in 1948 in Australia: A telephone operator turns sleuth when a colleague is murdered.
Maggie Byrnes and her co-workers are not really surprised when someone bashes in Sarah Compton’s head with a piece of equipment known as a buttinsky, because Sarah, widely disliked for her nosy, interfering ways, was something of a buttinsky herself. But it’s still nerve-wracking to know that a murderer is loose in the telephone exchange. The exchange, a hive of activity, quiets down a bit during the night, when the mostly female staff has more time for gossip, jealousy and backbiting. Maggie thinks the police would be very interested in her inside knowledge should she ever decide to share it with them. She and her best friend, Mac, are both romantically interested in supervisor John “Clark” Clarkson. So Maggie’s not sure whether it’s jealousy or Mac’s desire to beat her to the mystery’s solution that suddenly turns their friendship cold. Though Maggie gets surprising latitude from DI Coleman and DS Matheson of the Melbourne police, they both warn her of the dangers of hiding information. Maggie’s sleuthing turns up a great deal of information that people would prefer remain hidden. When a co-worker commits suicide, Maggie feels guilty but can’t give up the hunt. When Mac becomes the next victim, however, Maggie is devastated, especially since what she knows adds her to the killer’s list.
A classic English-style mystery with a perky heroine reminiscent of Georgette Heyer’s clever sleuths, packed with detail and menace.