Sunday, June 19, 2011

When the lights go on again

After finishing the mystery series set during the Depression, I've found a new series set in NYC during WWII. I like it better than the first, despite the same problem of guessing the murderers' identities in the last few chapters before the sleuth does.

The heroine, for starters, is hilariously witty. She's a struggling actress whose sort-of boyfriend is missing in action in the South Pacific and whose roommate is dating a guy with mob connections.

Before ordering the entire series from the library, a few reviews I read claimed that the books have many historical inaccuracies. There are so many references to wartime New York and 1940s popular culture and slang that there's no way I would catch most of them. Besides, they don't really affect the plot or distract from the tale.

I appreciate how the changes the war caused in everyday life, relegated to history books, are the central backdrop for these whodunits. In The War Against Miss Winter, a pervasively patriotic entertainment industry is the main focus of the mystery; in The Winter of Her Discontent, it's wartime meat rations that take center stage. Though I (disappointingly) pinpointed the murderer in each book, each one had an important plot twist that was impossible to foresee. What I loved was that the unexpected turns highlighted gray ethical areas and the irony of making sub-moral choices on the home front of a "Good" War.

I also really, really like the heroine. Aside from being sarcastic and perceptive, she also has an overly active, sometimes damaging imagination and a sort of war-induced social anxiety ... and I can definitely relate to both of those things.

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