The War Against Miss Winter
In 1943, even in New York City, the heart of American theatre, acting jobs are scarce, so struggling actress Rose Winter works for private detective Jim McCain to pay the rent. However, under the terms of her Stage Door-like boarding house, unless she gets an acting job within a week, she’s out on the streets. To make matters worse, she stops receiving her salary from the detective agency when she finds Jim hanging from a noose in the office closet. Rosie doesn’t believe Jim killed himself, and when one of Jim’s clients asks her to continue working for him, she finds herself in the midst of a mystery that combines both of her worlds.
Aided by her roommate Jayne, a musical comedy actress, Rosie searches for an elusive lost work by playwright Raymond Fielding, while sparring with her acting rival and fellow boarding house inhabitant, Ruby Priest. Haines, an actress and playwright herself, excels at a sense of place and characterization. I shivered along with Rosie in the cold New York City of World War II and agreed with her that Jayne was the best sidekick a gal could have. Mobsters with suspiciously tender hearts, gold-digging actresses, and wealthy society dames round out the cast of characters. The mystery itself is a bit too convoluted for its own good, but Rosie is just swell. If this is the first in a series, sign me up for number two.