A debut story with a well-drawn mid-1930s background, though with less appeal in its other aspects. It's Great Depression time and young, redheaded widow Belle Apple-man is grateful for her new job as pants-loop tacker at Boston's just unionized Classic Clothing Company, where her bachelor friend Nate Becket is a cutter. But Belle soon becomes alert to a myriad of tensions at the factory--owner Marvin Karsh is at odds with partner Victor Gordon, who's fighting with his would-be artist son Joey; sexy blonde shop-steward Jeanette Laval is involved with Joey and maybe others, like Nelson Eddy look-alike Paul Warshafsky, a union biggie with other, well-hidden affiliations. Belle is the first to spot Jeanette's murdered body floating in the Charles River and, on the basis of faithful reading of True Detective magazine and a longtime acquaintance with local police detective Jim Conners, proceeds to busybody her way into an investigation--one that's soon complicated by the killing of Marvin Karsh. Later, an attempt on Belle's life shows someone's taking her seriously, an impossibility for the reader. Why would anyone, even in the innocent Thirties, answer the nosy questions of an aggressive, not particularly beguiling nobody? Solid evocation of a time and milieu, its puzzle undermined by less-than-credible sleuthing.