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Stray by Rachel Vincent

Publisher: Mira Books  ISBN-10: 0778324214

Reviewed by Glen Clooney, New Mystery Reader

Faythe (interesting spelling) Sanders is a shape-shifting werecat, one of only a handful of breeding age females in her species.  Attending university in Texas, she is attacked by a "stray", which is one of her kind who does not belong to any of the "prides".  Faythe's father sends her ex-beau, Marc, to bring her back to fold for her own safety, which triggers the adventure.

As a writer I respect the work and commitment that goes into any novel of 500+ pages.  However, as a reader, I feel this novel could have lost one-third of its bulk and been a much tighter and perhaps more polished story.  At this length it comes across as unconvincing fluff better suited to teens, if the cussing was removed.  Unfortunately, the author spent more time filling pages than researching the feline species in order to make her werecats at least somewhat believable, hence they come off as a half-baked wolfish/catish hybrid that doesn't quite work.  While I applaud a writer's efforts to be different when it comes to fictional and mythical critters, the more they stray (pun intended) from the norm the more work it takes to make them convincing.  More than this, it struck me as odd that a species with so few breeding females would allow any of them to get away with the kind of self-serving behavior that Faythe demonstrates throughout the story, and she doesn't learn her lesson by the end, either.  Faythe is often puerile in her self-absorption and exasperating in her immaturity; a little too much of a dime-store-romance-queen for the more serious readers.  If you don't open this book expecting too much, you won't be disappointed.



Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear

Publisher:  Picador  ISBN:  ISBN: 0312426859

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

A new Maisie Dobbs mystery to keep any reader enthralled, beginning to end.  A delightfully fresh personality in the world of lady detectives.

Talented author Jacqueline Winspear opens a door to Maisie's world and Maisie invites us to step back to the period following The Great War when change was the order of the day. Depression was making itself felt and jobs were hard to come by. Yet there were those whose fortunes seemed unchanged and could try to buy peace of mind.  Such as in the death of young artist, Nick Bassington-Hope.

His sister, Georgina, hires Maisie Dobbs to settle the question she has as to his death being accidental or not. 

Nothing in the case is as it seems, people are not who they seem to be.  The tale is told with skillful interweaving of several subplots and characters with private motives and secrets to keep the reader turning the pages.

As the world is changing around her, Maisie finds her private life changing also.  She is faced with some hard decisions as the case moves to a close.

I highly recommend this book as a great read you will thoroughly enjoy as I did.  You'll be looking for other books by this very talented author. 




Don't I Know You? By Karen Shepard

Publisher: Harper  ISBN: 0060782382

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Back in the 70's single mother Gina Engel was brutally murdered, leaving behind her 12 year old son and many unanswered questions.  And in the aftermath of this horrible crime that rocked this diverse New York neighborhood, we will meet three different characters whose lives were forever changed. 

First Shepard takes us through young Steven's story right after his mother's murder.  A young boy who can't help but wish he could've somehow saved his mother, and who can't stop but wondering which of her many suitors might have perpetuated this crime. 

Next we meet Lila Chin, a young woman about to marry a man with some very dubious ties to the murdered woman, ties that Lila can't help but question, throwing her entire faith into her fiancée into doubt.

And finally we fast forward ten years and meet the dying mother of a developmentally disabled man, a mother who questions her son's complicity in the murder, but one who isn't sure she can handle the truth and what surely must follow if was indeed her son who committed the crime.

And for these three characters, the truth may forever remain elusive, ceaselessly impeding upon their lives with remaining questions and doubts concerning those they only thought they knew.

A more literate mystery than most, Shepard's focus really isn't on the solving of the crime but rather the aftermath of the crime, along with the questions and doubts that are raised for those left behind.  Intelligently written, and provocatively compelling, it leaves the reader pondering the many truths we hide from ourselves when it comes to our trust in others.  There are no easy answers here, nor revelations, with perhaps the whole intent being mere the acceptance of never knowing all we can about each other.  A good solid read, if a bit dark and tragic, it comes highly recommended.  



In the Dark of Night by John Saul

Publisher: Random House ISBN: 0345487028

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When the Brewsters, an upper-middle class family of four, are given the chance to rent Pinecrest, a Victorian mansion in the northern Wisconsin resort town of Phantom Lake, all but the worrisome mother of the clan happily agree.  For teenage Eric, it's a chance to spend some quality time with his two best friends; fishing, boating, ogling girls, and just enjoying the sun and fun.  But when the boys discover a room hidden behind a wall in the old carriage house, a room with an eerie and beckoning vibe that's filled with odd artifacts from the past, they have no idea the evil they're about to call up, an unrelenting force of unmitigated terror, and one that has been waiting for just this moment of release.  

John Saul returns to his familiar beat of supernatural horror, serving up another tale of unimagined fear pitted against the unsuspecting innocent.  But compared with some of his tales from the past, some might find this one a little on the light side, with most of the hard core events held in abeyance until near the end, with the final release of fury seeming a bit contrived and hurried.  So while fans of Saul may find this a bit wanting in that department, new readers might also have their own gripes, being unconvinced at the how's and why's that all too hastily explain the what's.  But if you're looking for nothing more than something that chills just a touch on a rainy afternoon, this one might just do the trick. 



Married to a Stranger by Patricia MacDonald

Publisher: Pocket  ISBN: 0743269594

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When wealthy, young, and beautiful Emma Hollis first meets David Webster, the connection is both immediate and powerful, but knowing of David's background as a playboy causes her to doubt it will go any further than simple fun.  So when she gets pregnant and David asks her to marry her, she is ecstatically surprised and more than happily accepts his proposal, hoping that marriage and baby will change his lothario ways.  And after a hurry-up wedding, the two embark on their honeymoon, a cuddly weekend at a cabin in the woods, a weekend that all too soon turns to terror when Emma is attacked by a masked man, barely escaping with her life. 

And when after returning home, even more disturbing events occur; Emma begins to doubt everyone, including David.  With no one to trust, and her very life on the line, Emma will soon discover that someone she loves has been planning her demise, someone that has never been the person she thought.

MacDonald has always turned out tales of high suspense and thrills with this latest being no exception.  With plenty of red herrings and suspects to keep the reader fully engaged and guessing, this is an electrifying read right up until the explosive ending.  And while some of the characters could use a little more depth, somehow this read still goes by all too quickly as the plot alone is filled with enough tension and pathos to keep the pages turning.  Definitely recommended, this, like all that's come before from this talented author is well worth the read.    



Blue Screen by Robert B. Parker

Publisher: Berkley  ISBN: 0-425215989

Reviewed by Don Crouch, New Mystery Reader

Well, it now appears that the merging of the Parker-verse is complete. We've had Spenser and Jesse Stone together on a case, and the previous Sunny Randall experience, Shrink Rap, was in large part about the titular heroine's initiation of therapy with Spenser's girl, Dr. Susan Silverman. So all that's left is for Jesse and Sunny to work together on a case.

Welcome to Blue Screen.

It's very clear from the get-go, even if you don't read the jacket copy, crossing the streams of these two characters is on Parker's mind, as Sunny goes to meet her client in a fashion time-honored since The Big Sleep. That is, meeting the client on his own rather eccentric turf, in this case, Paradise Mass., the home of one Buddy Bollen.

You could call Buddy a Hollywood Sleazeball, but it might offend Hollywood Sleazeballs. He has an ego as large as his brain is small. He has an expansive mansion, decorated as a tribute to his own infantilism. And he has a movie-star-girlfriend who, while being a stunning physical specimen, is possibly the worst actress on the planet, named Erin Green. She is also, apparently, about to break the gender barrier in Major League Baseball, and Buddy feels there are forces in the game are conspiring to prevent that from happening.

Seems Erin needs protection, and insists on a woman to provide it. Hence, Sunny. Erin is prickly with just about everyone. Rude, self-centered and ignorant. And she hates dogs!

Those familiar with the Sunny Randall series know a key character is Rosie, her miniature Spuds McKenzie, which of course sets up endless conflict between Sunny and her new client. And helps us learn to not like Erin, since Parker is quite fond of making Rosie about the cutest dog on the planet.

Parker is on familiar turf here. Many believe Looking For Rachel Wallace is one of the best in the Spenser series. The difficult-client/heroic-PI format is well-used here again by Parker, as a way to let us into the mindset of a person so used to being property she has forgotten how to be a person.

Soon after hiring on to the case, Erin's assistant, Misty, is murdered. Sunny is summoned to the house, and of course, this being Paradise, the local constabulary is on the scene. That would be Jesse Stone, Suitcase Simpson, and Molly Crane.

Cue the romantic sparks!! As Sunny's followers know, she is tortured by the lack of closure with her ex-husband, and prone to what Erica Jong used to call "zipless" carnal frolic. It's part of what drove her to see Susan Silverman, of course.

So, with convenient revelations regarding both Jesse's ex-wife, Jenn, and Sunny's ex, Richie Burke, the way is paved for Jesse and Sunny. Paved in rose petals, actually. We cheer for these two as they find their way down the path readers know, hope and fear they will take.

As their relationship develops, the case at hand almost takes a back seat. It's at least in the passenger seat, but nevertheless interesting, as Sunny and Jesse travel, at various times, to LA to investigate Buddy's history on that coast, while at the same time, Jesse is able to validate his new life by working with his old boss from the LAPD. On her first trip out to the Left Coast, Sunny finds out not only is Erin's history just a bit murky, but her late assistant Misty was actually her sister. We wouldn't tell you this part if the book flap didn't clumsily say so already.

So what we have here is a case, wrapped in a romance, and baked with appropriate care by a man who is so skilled at both, it all feels very natural. Parker delivers some major follow up to the last Jesse Stone novel, Sea Change, here, leading to the idea that he wants all three series to be considered as one.

A small, but interesting, through-line continuing here is the insight longtime Parker readers get of Susan Silverman. Seen through only Spenser's eyes for so long, she has become tiresome to many, we see again her professional side, as observed by Sunny, and it sheds new light on a character whose complexities Spenser readers neither saw nor cared about.

Of course, Parker brings in the rest of Sunny's supporting cast as well, primarily Spike, her best-pal restaurateur, who is caged-lion menace when needed, and empathic friend always. He'll never be a staple the way Hawk is, but he's very entertaining.

Parker is a known quantity, of course. And Blue Screen delivers on the levels that we expect, even demand, from a writer this gifted: Clever first-person perception, snappy dialogue, organic action and quality characterization. And, of course, it makes us eager for the next Spenser!




Wicked Break by Jeff Shelby

Publisher: Onyx  ISBN:  0451412419

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader 

If you are a mystery buff who likes sun and sand also, this is a book right up your alley.  Get your surf board out and join Noah Braddock and his friend Carter as they tangle with, not one, but two gangs in the San Diego area.

Lots of action keeps the story moving and an array of characters you'll enjoy meeting, even if you hate them.  Two gangs, one white supracist and one black, vie for one upping the other.

A dead client, his missing brother, and a battering by a dangerous killer pair, bring Noah and his friend Carter into solving a case that will help bring justice to the murdered client.

Noah may be in over his head in this one when he is attacked more than once by killers. The question is, will he come out in one piece or alive?

Talented author Jeff Shelby keeps you reading as a twisted plot unwinds with red herrings and surprises along the way.  I'm pleased to recommend this book to any reader of mysteries, suspense or thrillers.  Enjoy.  I did.



Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

Publisher: Dell  ISBN: 044024286X

Reviewed by Jake Chism, New Mystery Reader

Thomas Harris finally reveals the intriguing birth of the monster,
Hannibal Lecter. When WWII ravages the world around him, Hannibal loses
his family and his innocence. He and his sister are captured and
tortured by cannibalistic, murderous war criminals. Hannibal escapes,
but will never be able to flee from the memories of what was done to his
sister, Mischa.

Hannibal is taken to a Soviet orphanage and is kept there until his
uncle and aunt take him to France. As Hannibal grows older he becomes a
medical student in Paris, all the while secretly falling in love with
his Japanese aunt, Lady Murasaki. Her heart goes out to Hannibal as she
tries to heal him of the pain he suffers from the torment of his
childhood. Soon Hannibal is given an opportunity to get revenge on his
childhood torturers, and he gladly embraces it. Murder and torment then
come full circle to those who destroyed Hannibal’s innocence.

Harris is a master novelist and he carries readers along effortlessly
with his unique style. Hannibal’s transformation from innocent child to
cold-hearted murderer is both disturbing and gripping, and many of the
gruesome scenes are unforgettable and terrifying. Thomas Harris fans
will enjoy this fresh look into the early life of one the most complex
and infamous characters in modern fiction.


Hit Parade by Lawrence Block

Publisher: Harper ISBN: 0060840897

Reviewed by Dana King, New Mystery Reader

Hit Parade is an excellent example of why Lawrence Block has been a best-selling writer for years. This enjoyable, single-author anthology is bound to make just about any reader become more familiar with Block’s work.

John Keller is a hard-working professional in a familiar situation: wanting to retire, without enough saved to be comfortable about it. Dot is his manager/agent, who doesn’t believe Keller’s retirement is as imminent as he says, but respects and likes him too much not to take him seriously. Their conversations are funny in a natural, bantering way: the one-liners are the natural result of two friends jagging each other. Block’s understated, dry style reads as though the words drip from his fingers to the keyboard, though you know they don’t. If easy reading truly is hard writing, Block is busting his hump.

It’s hard to say much about the stories without spoiling them. Contracts aren’t quite what they seem. Sometimes that’s because the client lied; sometimes it’s because Keller and Dot saw a better opportunity. Few stories proceed as expected; when they do, it’s for unexpected reasons. The twists and surprises are interesting and entertaining (notably in the story where Keller is asked to help with a vicious dog) without ever seeming to be a reach. Maintaining that level of creative agility without straining credulity is a gift Block knows how to use, not abuse.

There’s one catch that keeps Hit Parade from being wholly recommended: Keller’s a hit man. Just send Dot the money and Keller makes sure someone dies in a timely manner. Block goes out of his way to make most of Keller’s victims earn their demise. It’s hard to feel badly about a client who gets clipped; he was trying to become a murderer once removed, anyway. Much of the book plays the ambiguities of Keller’s life against each other. He’s just wants to add to his stamp collection and retire, someone else would have croaked this guy if Keller didn’t, and he had it coming besides.

Block’s such a good writer, you’ll get over it. The catch comes when Keller waits for the housewife to come back from dropping the kids at school before he breaks her neck; hubby thought he’d save some money on the divorce. It’s one of the few stories where the client’s motivations are laid bare, and it casts a cloud over whatever sympathy Block garners for Keller throughout the book.

Raymond Chandler once wrote “In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption.” Block’s essentially amoral anti-hero doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt granted a Tony Soprano or Vito Corleone. He kills for money, period, and the money’s for himself. In the end, Keller’s tales are a little too nihilistic to be as entertaining as the writing through which they’re told.

On the other hand, now I really want to read one of Block’s Matt Scudder novels. The man can write.



The Betrayed by David Hosp

Publishers: Warner Books, ISBN: 04466155110

Reviewed by Narayan Radhakrishnan, New Mystery Reader

Boston lawyer David Hosp had a hellova debut with Dark Harbor- a legal thriller of the first order, reminiscent of Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent.

And I was expecting another hard-hitting, nitty-gritty legal thriller suspense read from this author this year…. And what I got was a hard-hitting, nitty-gritty suspense read…but not a legal thriller. Hosp showcases his real talent as a writer of good mysteries (rather than be sequestered in one single genre) with The Betrayed.

Amanda and her friend Nancy are returning home when they are accosted at a bad place in the neighborhood.  Though they escape with their lives and reach home safely…trouble has just started for Amanda. Once reaching home she finds her mother Elizabeth murdered. On her information, police arrive at the scene and the investigation is soon in the hands of detectives Jack Cassian and Darius Train.

Yet another arrival at the scene of crime is Sydney Chapin, the estranged sister of Elizabeth who now needs to know the whole truth behind her sister’s murder. Sydney, who had said goodbye to Washington a decade back, sees a chance to redeem herself with her family, and so launches herself into the investigation, eventually revealing some very ugly truths relating to some medical experiences gone awry, and a past that might have been better left alone. 

The ending is something unexpected- the hallmark of any great suspense read.  Highly, highly recommended.



The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco

Publisher: Ballentine Books  ISBN 978 0 8129 7757 8

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

The songbird in the title is the last surviving member of a family, Shane Nightingale, who was rescued from an orphanage, given a new life, and robbed of that life by a cataclysm so enormous and a crime so heinous that he’s lost the power of clear speech.

If you start reading the book without reading any of the liner notes or promotional material, it’s quite possible to get to Chapter Five before you realize that the marvellously delineated natural disaster you are reading about is that earthquake: San Francisco, 1906.

Sergeant Blackburn of the San Francisco police is a textbook policeman: dedicated, tough, honest as homemade bread, and patient.  Widowed ten years ago, he has retreated into himself and operates more as an automaton than a human.  He gets the worst beat in the district, the infamous Barbary Coast, home of hookers and criminals, drunks and destitutes.

On his way off shift one morning, he is thrown to the ground by an earthquake, a big one—but soon realises this is a pre-shock and worse is to come.  Worse does come, and by the time he staggers to his station later, most of the city has fallen down about his ears.

Running parallel to the stories of death and loss from the natural disaster is the story of a twisted man who feels the world owes him a living, and who takes offence at the smallest slight.  How he repays those who cross him and the lengths to which he’ll go to achieve this forms the secondary thread of the plot, and ties in with Blackburn’s hunt for a serial killer through the alleys and rubble piles of the fallen city.

Along the way, Blackburn meets Shane Nightingale and Vignette, two damaged but essentially strong children who not only assist his hunt for the murderer in the ruins of the great city, but also help him start to climb out from the ruins of his former life.

An engrossing read with some excellent characters who’ll stick in your mind, but the real protagonist of the story is the city itself and how it and its people coped with the unthinkable.  “Surviving is what you do when you haven’t any choice; recovering takes an act of will.”



Fatal Laws by Jim Michael Hansen

Publisher:  Dark Sky Publishing  ISBN:  13: 978-0-9769243-6-4

Reviewed by Anne K. Edwards, New Mystery Reader

Attention thriller fans. Do you like your stories mixing a little spine-tingling horror with suspense?  If so, this is a tale you will want to read.

Talented author Jim Michael Hansen has crafted another tale to keep you guessing and looking over your shoulder if you go our after dark. Join homicide detective Bryson Coventry as he tries to solve the multiple murders of young women who are found in graves along some railroad tracks.

When Bryson undertakes to find a killer of these women, he first visits the friend of one they have identified and is greeted at the door by a naked woman who seems not to care that he might notice.  Bryson is often in lust and this time is no different, but will he risk his job for an affair with this lovely woman?  How is she connected to the case or is she?

The why of the murders will set your teeth on edge as you join Bryson in the hunt for a killer. Added complications occur in his case when a young lawyer gets mixed up in the case after the disappearance of another lawyer.  Is she one of the victims?

Something different in the way of motives for murder and something different in the way of villains.  The carefully woven subplots will pull you along as they come together, holding your attention to the last page with twists you won't expect.

A very well-told tale that is guaranteed to satisfy any thriller or suspense fan. You'll be looking for his other books, Night Laws and Shadow Laws. Enjoy the story. I sure did.



Sleeping With Fear by Kay Hooper

Publisher: Bantam ISBN: 0553586009

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

When Riley Crane, a member of a unique team of federal investigators with paranormal powers, wakes up covered in blood in a small resort island off the Carolina coast, she is startled to realize that she has no memory of the past three weeks following her arrival.  But more discomforting is that not only is her memory shot, but so are her paranormal abilities, and so when a decapitated man is found dead in the woods, her logic may tell her it's probably his blood soaked into her skin, but why and how are questions she can't answer.         

With the help of an old close friend on the island and her supervisor, Noah Bishop, she begins to put the pieces together, discovering that she came to the island to investigate purported satanic activities.  And as shadowy memories slowly begin to take shape, she is further shocked to discover that somehow she has also formed a very close romantic bond with a man who is now once again a stranger.  Not knowing who to trust, but very sure that the danger in the air is somehow very personal, she herself the target from an unknown source, she must face the disconcerting truth that someone close to her is not a friend, but instead an enemy bent on revenge.        

Not usually a huge fan of the paranormal type mystery, I still find myself again and again enjoying Hooper's tales involving such unexplained and undetermined concepts with a great deal of enthusiasm.  If anyone can have you at least consider such ideas, Hooper can, somehow weaving these expansive and alluring notions into her suspenseful tales with such ease and matter of factness, that somehow it all becomes plausible. And as usual, in this latest, there's plenty of suspense, likeable characters, and solid writing, so even if you can't completely swallow all that is offered, there's still enough to satisfy.     



Vanished by Karen Robards

Publisher: Signet  ISBN: 045122101X

Reviewed by Robin Thomas, New Mystery Reader

Tragedy, just like lightning, shockingly strikes Sarah Mason twice in a lifetime.  Sarah goes to the neighborhood convenience store to buy dog food and winds up in a robbery that goes poorly; ending with the clerk dead, Sarah shot, and a little girl running away in fear of her life.  Ten years before that Sarah’s daughter vanishes while on a picnic at a local park.  Sarah is still looking for her daughter even after all these years.  Imagine her surprise when she hears her daughter’s voice on the phone and she sounds no different than the day she disappeared.  In desperation, Sarah turns to Jake Hogan, who was one of the detectives assigned to the case and is now a private investigator, to help her find her daughter Lexie.  Although Jake doubts that the calls are legitimate he gets involved because he cares dearly for Sarah and has been waiting for her to want more than a platonic friendship with him.  Early on, Jake comes to the conclusion that the robbery at the convenience store and the bizarre calls from Lexie may be related to one of Sarah’s legal cases.  The question of whether Sarah’s grief has gotten the best of her remains and if not, how can a child that has been missing for so many years sound the same as she did the day she disappeared.

Vanished is an enthralling romantic thriller by Karen Robards.  The author does a masterful job of describing Sarah’s gut-wrenching agony as she clings to the hopes of finding her daughter alive.  Jake’s undying love for Sarah helps him to overcome his suspicions about the mysterious phone calls and fuels his drive to find out who wants Sarah dead and why.  The pace of the book reaches a feverish level when another little girl is abducted and Sarah throws herself into the hunt in order to save a mother from going through what she has experienced.  Vanished is a well-balanced novel that provides the reader with equal measures of both genres.  Readers who enjoy romantic thrillers will love this novel and will consider it a strong candidate for their “must read” lists.




Heart of the World by Linda Barnes

Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks  ISBN: 0312362730

Reviewed by Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader

Boston PI Carlotta Carlyle has investigated more than a few missing person's cases in her career, but when her own little "sister" Paolina goes missing, she is quick to realize the dread and urgency felt by those left behind.  And when combined with the fact that the young teen had been receiving gifts from her Colombian drug lord father, her fear only intensifies, thinking he might have been the one to take her.  So Carlotta travels to Colombia in search of the girl, leaving behind her team of investigators, not to mention her suspected mobster boyfriend, in a search that will take her into the very heart of Colombia and an age old vow of revenge that just might get her killed.

It might take most readers all of two paragraphs into this latest from Barnes to become completely hooked, and from there readers are taken to a different world where upon arrival Barnes proceeds to illuminate it with startling clarity.  Both the beauty and violence of Colombia, from the jungles to the steaming city streets, to the souls who are heartless and those who are anything but, she exposes this majestic place with a heartfelt comprehension and a forceful vitality.  When combined with the both the provocative questions raised regarding the questionable alliance between big business and government, and the heartbreak that accompanies love and loyalty, you have one amazing read that'll you'll wish just wouldn't end.  We look forward to her next.



The War Against Miss Winter by Kathryn Miller Haines

Publisher: Harper Paperbacks ISBN 0061139785

Reviewed by Karen Treanor, New Mystery Reader

If you’ve had a bit too much reality lately, but you’re not quite ready for a fantasy novel, try this one.  Set in the middle of WWII, it follows the adventures of sometime-actress Rosie Winter and her friends as they hunt for the missing play of recently-dead writer Raymond Fielding.

It’s a little hard to find something that nobody is sure exists, never mind has any idea what it’s called or what it looks like, but Rosie is determined to find the play, if for no other reason than to complete the contract her boss private eye Jim McCain took on just before his death.  Acting doesn’t keep the wolf from the door, so Rosie works part-time in Jim’s office—or did until he was found dead.  Suicide or murder?  Rosie is pretty sure it’s murder, but the police don’t seem to care.  Looks like it’s up to Rosie to get some simple justice for Jim.

As she and her best gal pal Jayne investigate, Rosie finds out that a lot of other people would like to find the Fielding play, and not all of them for purely artistic reasons.  Somewhat hampered—and occasionally helped—by a rent-a-gorilla named Al, Rosie and Jayne eventually reach the truth at the bottom of the mystery, but will anyone believe them? Certainly not the person who has murdered several people to prevent the play from ever being seen—he’s killed before: what’s going to save Rosie and Jayne from ending up the same way?  Small comfort to Rosie that the very night she identifies the murderer is also the night of her first big triumph on stage. 

Author Haines has done her homework and slips in enough references to ration books, all-female boarding hotels, drawing seams on the back of one’s legs, chorus lines and hairpins to ground the reader firmly in 1943 New York.  She may have overdone the quaint slang just a bit in places, but that’s a minor quibble.