A USO troupe causes almost as much mayhem in the Pacific as the Japanese.
Unable to land Broadway roles and anxious to see if she can reconnect with her soldier ex- boyfriend Jack, now MIA somewhere in the Solomon Islands, Rosie Winter and her best friend Jayne join the USO and prepare to board a troupe ship headed for the Pacific. Their departure is delayed while a dead girl is fished out of the water. None of the other USO actresses admit to knowing her—not Kay, a former WAAC; not Violet, a highly competitive comedienne; not fading cinema beauty Gilda DeVane, recently dismissed by both MGM and her married lover, actor Van Lauer. Some of them are lying, of course. At length the ship docks at Tulagi, where résumés are compared and Gilda is dispatched by a bullet. It’s clear, at least to Rosie, that both deaths are related. And there are more worries. Rosie learns that Jack is dead. Jayne loses her pilot beau in an air battle. And a poor Japanese soldier is framed for Gilda’s murder. More sniping and more information about Jack will leave Rosie and Jayne to go on with the show with tears in their eyes.
Haines, who excels at breezy nostalgia (The Winter of Her Discontent, 2008, etc.), focuses this time on sadder wartime memories. Not a three-hankie read, but certainly rates a sniffle or two.