The War Against Miss Winter
The Winter of Her Discontent
Winter in June
When Winter Returns
The War Against Miss Winter
"Set in New York City, Haines's assured debut brings the WWII era to vivid life, from a topical jump-rope song ("Whistle while you work. Hitler is a jerk...") to Automats and jive joints. On New Year's Eve 1942, actress Rosie Winter, whose day job is with a Manhattan detective agency, finds the body of her boss, Sam McCain, hanging in his office closet, his hands and neck tied with phone cord. The investigating cop calls Sam's death a well-deserved suicide, but there's a missing play that a reclusive playwright and a rich widow want found. Rosie, a fast-thinking Hepburn type, takes on the case, aided by her best pal, Jayne ("a petite blonde with... the voice of a two-year-old" dubbed "America's squeakheart"). This is a fun romp, though the author, herself a playwright and actor, provides some dark commentary on avant-garde theater and war as well as an unexpected and wicked twist in the novel's final act." Publisher's Weekly (April 23, 2007)
Backstage Bitchery during World War II
"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. 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.
New coming Haines, artistic director of a regional theater company, knowingly describes thesbian 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." Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2007)
Cruelty a Common Thread in Five Very Different Tales
"Kathryn Miller Haines' debut novel, The War Against Miss Winter (Harper paperback, $13.95), is an amusing look at New York City during World War II. Rosie Winter clerks part time in a run-down detective agency as she auditions for parts in obscure plays. When her boss turns up dead in the office closet, Winter finds herself cast as a tyro private eye who butts heads with Times Square mob guys, a self-consciously sophisticated theater crowd and Manhattan socialites. All, it seems, are searching for a missing play manuscript that might or might not be notorious.
This novel nestles comfortably in a period commemorated by late-night movies featuring wisecracking heart-of-gold gals like Joan Blondell. The author ushers us to our seat on the aisle for a few hours of fun." Cleveland Plain Dealer (June 25, 2007)
Rosie's No Riveter But Her Story Is
"Your acting career is stuck in neutral, you're working as a file clerk for a private detective in New York, your boyfriend has joined the Navy, the country is at war and you find your boss murdered.
What's a girl to do?
Rosie Winter, the heroine of Kathryn Miller Haines' debut novel, "The War Against Miss Winter," does what any red-blooded 20-something would do in 1943: She goes to work to crack the case. And what a case it is. More killings follow her boss's, and Rosie and her best pal, fellow actress Jayne, soon find themselves enmeshed with the mob (although Jayne is already dating a mobster), entangled in high society (the boss's widow is filthy rich) and mystified about a missing script (everyone denies having seen it).
It turns out, naturally, that these elements are linked, and Haines does an admirable job of exposition on a remarkably convoluted plot. The story takes more turns than a Manhattan cabbie, but Haines lays it out so well that the reader is never left wondering, "Huh?"
Haines plays fair, too. There's an early clue involving Churchill, a cat that Rosie and Jayne have semi-adopted and smuggled into their boardinghouse room. Churchill's caper explains much -- if you notice it.
Add the compelling plot to Haines' entertaining and vivid rendering of New York during World War II -- and Rosie herself -- and you've got a crackerjack wisecracker of a mystery that the reader hopes will raise the curtain on the author's body of work.
Just don't judge this book by its cover: That's a flapper pictured, not a '40s gal."
Richmond Times-Dispatch, June 24, 2007
A Nice Review in the August 2007 Pittsburgh Magazine (PDF file)
The War Against Miss Winter' Period details help World War II mystery ring true
By Pohla Smith
Give Kathryn Haines, a Wilkinsburg resident, a standing ovation.
The award-winning playwright and star of Mystery's Most Wanted dinner theater deserves multiple curtain calls for her first novel, a delightful puzzle set on Broadway when the bright lights were dimmed at night because of World War II.
Rosie Winters is an aspiring actress who earns her rent as an assistant to a private detective. After she takes on the search for a missing manuscript, she finds her boss hanged in his closet.
The cops say suicide, but Rosie knows better -- the victim's hands were tied -- but she can't get them to budge. The reason is one of several subplots that support, rather than detract from, the mystery.
A few more bodies pile up, Rosie's best pal is badly beaten and a lot of gun-waving occurs before Rosie finds the play but not a manuscript.
Makes no sense? Then keep in mind the quote from Shakespeare's "As You Like it" that Rosie was given to guide her investigation:"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrance. And one man in his time plays many parts."
What separates "Miss Winter" from other well-plotted mysteries are the well-researched backdrop of New York in 1943 and the excellent writing.
Her historical tidbits about that era include: The characters brush with tooth cream, not paste; with silk stockings in short supply, the women draw seams onto their legs; and kids jump rope while singing, "Whistle while you work; Hitler is a jerk. Eany, Meany, Mussolini, Put Tojo out of work."
Haines' own career in the theater brings to life Rosie's experiences attending auditions and then rehearsing as an understudy for a bad play.
Holding a degree in writing as well as theater, Haines turns many a pretty phrase. Consider, for example, her characterization of the bad play for which Rosie is understudy: "Ruby played the saintly WAC, which was the best of the eight parts, though given the overall shortcomings of the play, that was a bit like being the whore with the nicest teeth."
Haines is under contract for two Rosie Winter novels and is finishing the second. It's due for release next year, and this reviewer can't wait.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Sunday, September 16, 2007
A nice review in the Historical Novel Review.
The Winter of Her Discontent
"The second Rosie Winter mystery finds the World War II-era Broadway actress (and former assistant to a private eye) using her sleuthing skills to solve a series of backstage crimes. Rosie and roommate Jane are cast in a troubled production of a musical financed by a low-life mobster. After the who's star is murdered and a pal of Rosie's confesses to the crime, Rosie and Jane, not buying the confession, set out to find who really dunnit. As more "accidents" befall the cast and crew, it becomes clear that someone doesn't want the show to open. Haines capably combines homefront ambience (rationing, worries over soldier boyfriends) with plenty of backstage drama. The setting, arooming house occupied by various actresses and dancers, provides no shortage of working-girl details, and Rosie and Jane make a winning team of feisty homefronters. Several decades before "Sex and the City," popular fiction thrived on less-explicit melodramas starring single gals making a go of it on their own; this entertaining tale draws on that tradition, successfully spicing up the proceedings with a crime element."
Booklist, May 1, 2008
"Haines serves up hefty portions of medium-rare WWII home-front nostalgia, wartime slang and theater lore in her second Rosie Winter mystery (after 2007's The War Against Miss Winter). In March 1943, aspiring Broadway actress Rosie has her problems: she broke up with her sailor boyfriend, Jack, just before he shipped out and now he's missing in action; she's stuck with best friend Jayne in a cheap Manhattan rooming house with backstabbing theatrical aspirants; her petty gangster buddy Al's in the hoosegow for a murder Rosie's sure he didn't do; and beef rationing looms as a cruel April Fool's joke. Haines makes the girls' physical and emotional hungers both vivid and poignant as they desperately try to keep smiling... Haines brings home the painful price the "greatest generation" paid more gallantly than anyone then knew. (July)"
Publisher's Weekly , April 2008
"Although her gams aren't as graceful as her roomate Jayne's, Rosie Winter is accepted along with Jayne for the chorus of Walter Friday's new production, Goin' South. Many mishaps await between rehearsals and opening night. Paulette, one of the leading ladies, is murdered, and Al, a mobster gofer for Jayne's sweetie Tony B., confesses and is jailed. Sets crash. And the stench of carnage arises from the theater basement, where the play's backer, Vinnie "the Butcher" Garvaggio, comes and goes at odd hours. To prove their pal Al is innocent despite his confession, Rosie and Jayne investigate and are soon awash in Paulette's dead husbands, fiance, and new boyfriend, as well as the amorous soldiers they fend off at the Stage Door Canteen. They must deal with jealous actresses also living at the Shaw House and black market meals in which horse substitutes for steer. Eventually, the play opens and swiftly closes; Al gets out of jail; and the gals begin to look for new jobs and new bofriends.
A breezy look back at the '40s, complete with starlets in short skirts and mobsters smoking Cuban cigars...[Rosie] deserves another crack at stardom."
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2008
"Broadway performer Rosie Winter returns for another adventure in the second mystery novel by Kathryn Miller Haines, Pittsburgh actress, director and award-winning playwright.
The result is another bravura performance by both author and heroine. Picking up where "The War Against Miss Winter" left off, the book is set in 1943. Rosie's boyfriend, Jack, is missing in action on the European front and at home, her pal Al, a mob enforcer, is jailed for the murder of his actress girlfriend.
To work on Al's case, Rosie joins the cast of a new musical called "Goin' South," the play in which the dead woman had a part. When Rosie isn't detecting, rehearsing or trying to find out more about Jack, she entertains troops at the famed Stage Door Canteen.
As in her first, Haines skillfully juggles the plot and sub-plots, weaving them into one seamless tapestry. Her characters -- both good guys and bad -- are colorfully and sharply drawn, and she somehow avoids resorting to Runyonesque caricatures.
The best part of the novel is the way Haines recreates New York City and its denizens at war in 1943. Women don't "polish" their nails, they "varnish" them. Their "hair was rolled in the front and loose in the back -- a style that the slicks claimed was the new look but which could make even Ginger Rogers look homely."
With details like that, it wouldn't be all that surprising to look up from the book and see blackout curtains over the windows."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 8, 2008
The Winter of Her Discontent: A Rosie Winter Mystery (Rosie Winter Mysteries)
By Kathryn Miller Haines
For the mystery lover who enjoys a tale with a well blended background of many facets, talented author Kathryn Miller Haines has crafted a great series placed in the New York City theater district during the World War II era. The background and characters are so well done, you’ll swear you lived in that era.
Mystery, murder, weird goings on in a theater after hours, a man confesses to murder and many other threads are woven together to make a compelling read, one you will not want to put down. You’ll meet Rosie Winter, actress and mystery solver, who manages to get herself in hot water and a job as a dancer in a chorus that seems guaranteed to fail.
The death of a well known actress is something Rosie doesn’t believe her friend and hoodlum, Al, is guilty of even though he confessed. While he sits in prison and won’t tell her the reason for his confession, Rosie and Jayne set out to prove his innocence.
Throughout the story other interesting characters draw your attention and you’ll be wondering, "what if". The search for evidence, the identity of the murderer and just what else is going on around her, will keep you and Rosie moving. Rosie learns things aren’t often what they seem in more ways than one.
The author has done a fine job on researching this era of shortages and the blackmarket, criminals and actors, and what goes on behind the scenes of the theater and the blackmarket.
Highly recommended as a tale well worth the time.
Anne K. Edwards, Reader to Reader
Winter in June
APRIL 15, 2009
WINTER IN JUNE
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.
Winter in June
Kathryn Miller Haines. Harper, $13.99 paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-157956-1
Actress Rosie Winter, the narrator of Haines’s lively third WWII-era mystery (after 2008’s The Winter of Her Discontent), sets sail from San Francisco for the Solomon Islands in the spring of 1943, though a woman’s body found floating in the water nearby delays the ship’s departure. Rosie, whose ex-boyfriend is missing somewhere in the Pacific theater, is part of a USO troupe that includes adventurous friend Jayne Hamilton, who’s walking away from her mobster boyfriend, and Gilda DeVane, a former MGM player. Once on the island of Tulagi, Rosie and her pals mostly have fun performing their song-and-dance routines and consorting with friendly servicemen, until a deadly sniper attack prompts the military authorities to move the entertainers to WAAC barracks for their protection. Full of evocative period detail (a sailor is called Spanky after the kid in the Our Gang comedies), this entry, for all its humorous and lighthearted moments, builds to a dramatic and sobering conclusion. (June) Publisher's Weekly, April 6, 2009
Winter in June.
Haines, Kathryn Miller (Author)
May 2009. 336 p. Harper, paperback, $13.99. (9780061579561).
Actress Rosie Winter and her friend Jayne travel to the Solomon Islands as part of a USO tour group during World War II, hoping to find Rosie’s ex-boyfriend Jack, who is now missing in action after being stationed in that area. Hollywood star Gilda DeVane—hoping to rehabilitate her image after her affair with a married actor and her subsequent firing by the studio—is also part of the group. Just before the ship leaves San Francisco for Tulagi, a body is found floating in the water. The victim turns out to be a former WAC who had been stationed at Tulagi. When a shooting occurs on the island, Rosie believes the murder is connected to the earlier death. Rosie and Jayne are kept busy investigating the two murders and Jack’s disappearance. This third in a series is firmly set in its wartime locale and includes period slang and details of the USO and its entertainers. It will appeal to fans of Margit Liesche’s Pucci Lewis mysteries, also about women’s roles in World War II.— Sue O'Brien (Booklist)
New mysteries from two local writers satisfy Tuesday, June 09, 2009 By Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Joe." "Mae West." "Zotzed." "What's the crop?" "Close your heads."
If you understood those slang words and idioms, you either were old enough to drink a cup of java during World War II or you've already sampled Kathryn Miller Haines' Rosie Winter mysteries.
I hope it's the latter, for Haines, a Pittsburgh actress, director and award-winning playwright, always provides a good read.
In this one, her third in the series, Haines' heroine, a Broadway actress, and her best friend, Jayne Hamilton, have joined a USO tour to entertain the troops in the Pacific.
But Rosie also has an ulterior motive. She wants to find out what has happened to her ex-boyfriend Jack, who is missing in action.
It's a big war zone, but the USO company, which hops from island to island, meets a lot of soldiers, sailors and pilots who know even more soldiers, sailors and pilots, some of whom may have heard of Jack.
But murder gets in the way of Rosie's quest. Twice. And both of the victims are actresses. One of them is just coming up through the Hollywood studio system; the other is the famous Gilda DeVane, who is killed during a USO show.
A Japanese sniper is blamed, but Rosie doesn't buy it.
And that's not all she isn't buying. Rosie also is having trouble matching the personal hatred the officers, servicemen and fellow performers direct at the enemy. But she keeps that antiwar sentiment to herself, thinking, "After all, the last thing anyone wanted to hear was that the people we were hoping to kill were just like us."
The pacing of the book lags in a couple of spots and a few of the clues are a bit obscure, causing this reviewer to read the denouement a second time.
But, overall, "Winter in June" is a terrific summer read. That's especially so when you consider it includes her usual dead-on re-creation of an American culture at war in 1943 and quality writing, particularly when she's describing the beauty of the Pacific islands.
When Winter Returns
Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
When Winter Returns
When Winter Returns Kathryn Miller Haines. Harper, $14.99 paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-06-157957-8
Set in the fall of 1943, Haines's captivating fourth Rosie Winter mystery (after 2009's Winter in June) finds Rosie and her best pal, Jayne Hamilton, back in New York after a harrowing South Pacific U.S.O. tour. First, they pay a call upstate on the parents of Jayne's late fiancé, Billy DeMille, who was killed in action two months earlier. To their surprise, they discover the Billy they knew stole the identity of the DeMilles' son, who died in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Back in Manhattan at the George Bernard Shaw Home for Women Pursuing Theatrical Vocations, Rosie must share rooms with her nemesis, Ruby Priest, and Jayne with weird Ann Fremont. At fake Billy's old digs, they uncover German letters written in disappearing ink and a stash of cash. To add to their woes, Jayne's ex-mobster honey, Tony, is causing trouble, and they can't land roles because another mobster has blackballed them. Haines vividly recreates WWII-era New York City, while daring Rosie never loses her “can do” attitude. (May)
WHEN WINTER RETURNS
by Kathryn Miller Haines
Haines brings glamour and sass to the genre with spunky, no-nonsense Rosie Winter. Fans will be thrilled to see this timeless heroine up to her old tricks. This is not the most romantic installment, but the storyline, witty dialogue and Haines' meticulous research make for an entertaining read with a good balance of humor and suspense.
When Winter Returns by Kathryn Miller Haines
Reviewed by Teri Davis
After a grueling schedule of working overseas with a USO tour group in the South Pacific during the fall of 1943, Rosie Winter and her best friend, Jayne Hamilton, are looking forward to reestablishing their acting careers and personal lives back in New York City.
First, the two decide to take a detour to the home of Jayne’s deceased fiancé, to pay respects to his parents. Curiously, they soon discover that for some reason, the man to whom Jayne was engaged had taken the identity of another recruit who had died at Pearl Harbor two years earlier. Why would someone enlist in the military, join in the war effort, while pretending to be someone else? Could this person have been a spy?
Back in New York City, the two find that their old rooms at the rooming house are now inhabited. Rosie quickly becomes roommates with Ruby Priest, who has never liked her, while Jayne stays with Ann Fremont who lives an unusual life causing their interest. Added to this, Jayne’s ex boyfriend is hurt and wanted by the mob. So naturally the logical thing would be to hide him in a women’s boarding house.
Since the two are not gainfully employed yet, they decide to look further into the identity of deceased fiancé. They visit his old apartment and discover many of his belongings in storage which includes a locked trunk. When they finally open it, they discover five thousand dollars. Now, their curiosity is motivating them toward further investigations.
To complicate their lives more is Rosie’s former love, who is now engaged to another and is struggling with the loss of a leg and his potential acting career.
This is a realistic and fast-paced adventure of life during 1943 in New York. The characterization is phenomenally portrayed with the characters’ problems and successes. The action is fast. This is definitely the type of novel that entirely engrosses your thoughts while you read it.
Wilkinsburg author's heroine returns in a South Pacific mystery
(Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 19, 2009)
Novelist and Pitt Staffer Kathryn Miller Haines Launches Her Third Book
(The Pitt Chronicle, May 11, 2009)
A Closer Look, Kathryn Miller Haines
(University Times, April 2, 2009)
"The War According to Ms. Haines"
(The Pitt Chronicle, 9.22.08)
Local mystery author Kathryn Miller Haines has a winning character in '40s actress Rosie Winter. (Pittsburgh City Paper, Sept. 19, 2007)
Rosie is the spotlight book on Amazon.com's mystery and thriller front page (starting August 1, 2007)! (jpg file)
April 30, 2007 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Kathy and two other local author's publishing their debut books.
May 6, 2007 Newsmaker Piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
University of Pittsburgh Faculty of Arts and Sciences Newsletter, Snapshot (June 28, 2007).
Editorial from The Strand Magazine naming The War Against Miss Winter one of the top 12 books of the year.