Baxter’s debut presents Depression-era Chicago as a city of violent crime, crooked cops, politicians on the take, and working people like the advertising agency copywriter suddenly involved in murder.
Elodie Browne is thrilled that her idea for a radio show tied to an ad campaign has earned her a raise and a job working with two radio scriptwriters. When the police arrive to investigate a disappearance, her friend Bernice advises her to forget the strange noises she heard when she mistakenly got off the elevator on the tenth floor, where Bernice works for Mr. Lee, an importer of jade and antiquities. Ellie, always in need of money, accepts a job waitressing a party at Lee’s house, and she’s there when the man who disappeared staggers in and whispers “Ming Doa” just before a guard shoots him dead. Even after Bernice is murdered on an errand for Lee, Ellie can’t give up on her search for the meaning of Ming Doa and the links between Lee’s valuable jade and drugs, tongs, Chinese communists and Al Capone. She receives grudging assistance from an honest cop, her reporter cousin, a priest, a general, her fellow radio writers and even a mob lawyer before a fiery finish reveals all.
A clever, stubborn heroine whose exploits ably dramatize the difficulties of everyday life during the Depression.