Backstage bitchery during WWII.
Now that out-of-work actress Rosie Winter has been hired as a shamus’s gofer to pay her rent at a women’s theatrical boarding house, she’s in the perfect position to discover her boss’s dead body swinging from a cord in the office closet. Did one of the clients Jim McCain was so secretive about prefer murder to bill-paying? Jim’s unloving wife Eloise and stepson Edgar seem less interested in grieving than finding a script for an unproduced play by Raymond Fielding. Then a man calling himself Fielding hires Rosie to find the script first. When Jim’s files disappear from his office, the suspects include a rival playwright, an ambitious director, a self-promoting actress who lies better than she acts and a couple of goons who may be under the auspices of gangster Tony B. More. Meanwhile, Rosie, hired for the opening at the People’s Theatre, ends up joining Jayne and Tony’s minion Al in reworking Fielding’s play, which they stage amidst posters exhorting everyone to do their part for the war effort.
Newcomer Haines, artistic director of a regional-theater company, knowingly describes thespian combativeness and audition politics. And she may have created the most annoying feline in fiction. But her real success is her pitch-perfect rendering of the early ’40s, from rationing to java stops at the automat.