Author: Kathryn Miller Haines
Page Count: 317 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Year of Publication: 2007
50 words or less: It's 1943 and WWII is going full throttle. Rosie Winter, a struggling but determined actress, shows up to work one day to find her boss dead in his office. When she tries to close out the last of his business, she ends up taking on way more than she bargained for.
I grabbed this book on a whim at the library and I'm so excited that I did. I devoured this book- the language was engaging, the story was exciting, and the mystery kept me guessing almost until the end. Rosie Winter is a sassy lady, and rest assured she does not take crap from anyone about anything. Her snappy retorts to the people around her who would try to bring her down are thoroughly entertaining, and her voice as a narrative keeps the story moving at just the right pace. Plus, how can you not love statements like this one, where she's describing a snotty, obnoxious fellow actress's role in the play they've both been cast in:
Ruby played the saintly WAC, which was the best of the eight parts, though given the overall shortcomings of the play, that was a bit like being the whore with the nicest teeth.Rosie Winter shines as a narrator and a protagonist, but the other characters are just as worthy of mention: Jayne, the best friend and, all too often, the voice of reason; Tony, Jayne's mobster boyfriend who may (or may not?) actually be a nice guy, Al, one of Tony's tough guys who really just wants to make his mom proud; Belle, the house mom at the boarding house where Rosie, Jayne, and Ruby live; Harriet, probably my favorite character, who's juggling a career as an actress with also being a budding political activist. Oh, and Churchill the cat!
The war is a constant presence in this book, and the author provides lots of period details that enhance the story on almost every page. Additionally, the author's experience in the theater world makes the setting and tone of the book very authentic, and makes the reader actually care about the resolution of the main mystery, that being who murdered Rosie's boss, and all the side mysteries that emerge along the way. Speaking of side stories, several of them, such as Rosie's relationship with Jack, her (maybe) fiance, Rosie's rollercoaster acting career, and her relationships with the other girls in the boarding house, leave lots of room for future books in the series. I know of two others, The Winter of Her Discontent and Winter in June, and I'll definitely be reading both of those and reviewing them here.
If you're looking for something different to read that's funny, engrossing, and completely satisfying, I highly recommend this book.
Overall Grade: A