Review: The War Against Miss Winter

The War Against Miss Winter

Kathryn Miller Haines

This detective novel was recommended to me by a friend who enjoys mostly crime novels so I wasn´t sure if it was something I would like. While I adore Agatha Christie, I´ve always thought of hard-boilt detective stories as a guy thing. The detective is usually an anti-social man in trench coat and the female characters tend to be of the seductive murderess or damsel-in-distress variety.

The War Against Miss Winter, however, stars a female amateur detective: Miss Rosie Winter, not so successful actress, tough and witty.

Set in New York City, Haines's assured debut brings the WWII era to
vivid life, from a topical jump-rope song (Whistle while you work.
Hitler is a jerk…) to Automats and jive joints. On New Year's Eve
1942, actress Rosie Winter, whose day job is with a Manhattan detective
agency, finds the body of her boss, Sam McCain, hanging in his office
closet, his hands and neck tied with phone cord. The investigating cop
calls Sam's death a well-deserved suicide, but there's a missing play
that a reclusive playwright and a rich widow want found. Rosie, a
fast-thinking Hepburn type, takes on the case, aided by her best pal,
Jayne (a petite blonde with… the voice of a two-year-old dubbed
America's squeakheart). This is a fun romp, though the author, herself
a playwright and actor, provides some dark commentary on avant-garde
theater and war as well as an unexpected and wicked twist in the
novel's final act.

Rosie is a likable character, quick on the uptake with a sharp tongue. Her friend Jayne, the squeakheart, is a fabulous sidekick. I found it interesting to read about WWII from the perspective of the other side (US citizens back home) and I loved the theatre background. It´s the hunt for the missing play that binds the characters and story lines together and the twist – I love twists!- is very clever and took me completely by suprise.

And if you liked it, there are two sequels!

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