From Publishers Weekly
Haines serves up hefty portions of medium-rare WWII home-front nostalgia, wartime slang and theater lore in her second Rosie Winter mystery (after 2007's The War Against Miss Winter
). In March 1943, aspiring Broadway actress Rosie has her problems: she broke up with her sailor boyfriend, Jack, just before he shipped out and now he's missing in action; she's stuck with best friend Jayne in a cheap Manhattan rooming house with backstabbing theatrical aspirants; her petty gangster buddy Al's in the hoosegow for a murder Rosie's sure he didn't do; and beef rationing looms as a cruel April Fool's joke. Haines makes the girls' physical and emotional hungers both vivid and poignant as they desperately try to keep smiling, but her bitter tale about wartime sacrifices inevitably producing corruption is riddled with inaccuracies (e.g., U.S.A.A.F. officers wore olive drab, not dress blues; corporal isn't a navy rank). Still, Haines brings home the painful price the greatest generation paid more gallantly than anyone then knew. (July)
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The second Rosie Winter mystery finds the World War II–era Broadway actress (and former assistant to a private eye) using her sleuthing skills to solve a series of backstage crimes. Rosie and roommate Jane are cast in a troubled production of a musical financed by a lowlife mobster. After the show’s star is murdered and a pal of Rosie’s confesses to the crime, Rosie and Jane, not buying the confession, set out to find who really dunnit. As more accidents befall the cast and crew, it become clear that someone does not want the show to open. Haines capably combines home-front ambience (rationing, worries over soldier boyfriends) with plenty of backstage drama. The setting, a rooming house occupied by various actresses and dancers, provides no shortage of working-girl details, and Rosie and Jane make a winning team of feisty home-fronters. Several decades before Sex in the City, popular fiction thrived on less-explicit melodramas starring single gals making a go of it on their own; this entertaining tale draws on that tradition, successfuly spicing up the proceedings with a crime element. --Bill Ott