This Dame for Hire

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Twenty-six-year-old Faye Quick had been the secretary for the one-man A Detective Agency until her boss, Woody Mason, enlists in the Army shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Woody insists that Faye take over the A Detective Agency while he is gone, so Faye hires her own secretary and gets cracking. Like her name, Faye is quick to learn the job, and she has the slang and wisecracks of the typical hard-boiled (fictional) detectives of the era down pat. She smokes and drinks, but is not comfortable taking her Colt .28 from the Van Dyck cigar box she keeps it in, though she does enjoy the printing on the inside cover, Quick on the Draw.

Ironically enough, Faye's first murder case comes when she is hired to find the killer of a young socialite whose dead body she had stumbled over on snow-covered Bleecker Street. Porter West, the girl's father, hires Faye hoping she will prove that his daughter's less than upper-class boyfriend was the killer. Faye soon learns that he was not Claudette West's only boyfriend by far. Through a police friend, Faye also learns that Claudette was three moths pregnant when she was murdered, and interrogate as she will, none of the boyfriends will admit to being with Claudette during the relevant time period.

Sandra Scoppettone, known best for her five-book series featuring the contemporary New York private eye Lauren Laurano, is off to a racy start of a new series in the hard-boiled noir tradition, with fast-paced action and snappy period dialogue just begging for the big screen. With the Big Apple as the setting and World War II as the backdrop, this gumshoe dame is ready to take ’em all on.