Women Sleuths in
Historical Mysteries

1943 New York City, United States

©1996-2013
womeninworldhistory.com

The War Against Miss Winter

by Kathryn Miller Haines

It is early in the war, and aspiring actress Rosie Winter, finding theater work few and far between, has picked up extra money working for a somewhat sleazy detective agency. When her boss is found dead, Rosie finds herself enlisted by various characters who want her to search his files for something missing. Could it be a never performed play which might contain revealing facts detrimental to more than one person? Needless to say, Rosie’s search results in threats on her life as she pokes into the lives of mobsters, high society types, and mysterious government officials.

Haines pulls you into the homefront atmosphere of urban America at war. References to restrictions and cautions endured by people in the homefront are frequent. The fact that Rosie’s boyfriend Jack has gone to war is just one anxiety causing event. Perhaps even the name “Rosie” is used to evoke the Rosie the Riveter image, though in this case the heroine is feisty Rosie the Thespian! The slangy 40s speech is well done, placing the book within the genre of gumshoe detective tales written during this period.

Katherine Haines is an actor herself, thus it is no surprise that the story’s secondary plot is the New York theater and the actors who inhabited it. Of particular interest is Rosie’s female only rooming house, endowed by “some starlet who married well and made it possible for mugs like me too enjoy a cheap roof over our heads.” Also, find a description of the People’s Theatre, home of progressive, experimental work.

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©1996-2013
Women in World History Curriculum