By Kathryn Miller Haines; reviewed by Jeannette Hartman
Everyone wants Raymond Fielding’s last play, never mind that most of his work was experimental with limited public appeal.
Allegedly, the play was stolen from a safe in his house shortly before he was murdered. He had hired private investigator Jim McCain to find the missing play.
Down-on-her-luck actress Rosie Winter is Jim’s assistant (just until her big break comes). She finds him hanging in his office closet, hands tied behind his back, on New Year’s Eve day 1942.
The cops call it a case of Christmas depression. Rosie liked Jim and doesn’t think he’s getting a fair shake. He definitely wasn’t suicidal in her opinion. Not to mention how hard it is to hang yourself with your hands tied behind your back.
Soon, she finds herself the center of attention and multiple demands that she find the play from Jim’s society wife, directors, actresses, Fielding’s alleged son and a man who climbs in the fire escape window claiming to be Fielding himself.
Does the play reveal reputation-ruining details? Is it anti-war or anti-American? Is it the Great American Play that will make a director’s career?
This is a fun and inventive book filled with interesting characters. It’s set in wartime New York City, struggling with shortages, rationing and “dim-outs,” in which the city’s lights are turned off to conserve energy for the war effort and protect against air raids.
Rosie is talented and resourceful with a smart mouth. Her roommate Jayne Hamilton is blonde, gorgeous, has a soft little girl’s voice and dates a Mafia thug named Tony B.
The plot revolving around the missing play is full of unexpected turns.
This is fun, light reading. Rosie uses a lot of 1940s slang, especially early in the book, that some readers found annoying. I found it initially distracting and at odds with the character as I imagined her, but not difficult to ultimately ignore.
THE WAR AGAINST MISS WINTER (2007) was followed by THE WINTER OF HER DISCONTENT (2008), WINTER IN JUNE (2009) and WHEN WINTER RETURNS (2010).
About the Author: Kathryn Miller Haines
Kathryn Miller Haines is an American novelist and actor. She has written two mystery series — the Rosie Winter series and the Girl is . . . series — as well as a stand-alone novel, THE GIRL FROM YESTERDAY (2017) and a play “Sibling Rivalry” (2013).
She grew up in San Antonio and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from Trinity University there. She earned a master of fine arts in English from the University of Pittsburgh. She served as the associate director of the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh. She is an adjunct faculty member for Seton Hill’s Master of Fine Arts in writing popular fiction program.
In 2012, her book THE GIRL IS MURDER was nominated for an Edgar Award.