"I didn’t start out to be a private eye. I thought I was gonna be a secretary–get my boss his java in the morning, take letters, and so on. Hell, I didn’t get my degree in steno to put my life on the line. It was true I wanted an interesting job, but that I’d end up a PI myself . . . it never entered my mind."
New York, 1943. Almost anything in pants has gone to serve Uncle Sam in the war–including Woody Mason, the head of a detective agency in midtown Manhattan. Left to run the show is his secretary, Faye Quick, who signed on to be a steno, not a shamus. At twenty-six and five foot four, there’s not much to Faye, but she’s got moxie–which she’ll need when she stumbles over a dead girl in the street and takes on her first murder case.
This victim wasn’t any ordinary girl. Claudette West was a student at NYU and the daughter of a Park Avenue family. Faye, who lives in bohemian Greenwich Village–where no one cares how you look–ventures uptown, where people care enough about money to kill for it. Claudette’s father is convinced greed was the motive, and that Claudette’s working-class boyfriend, Richard Cotten, killed the girl because she threw him off the gravy train.
Faye, however, isn’t so sure, not when she learns about all the other men Claudette was secretly seeing–from her lecherous literature professor to an apparent con artist. For Faye, there are more shocking surprises in store than turns and dips in the Coney Island Cyclone.
Going after the bad guys and fighting a good fight on the home front, Faye is as scrappy and endearing as any character Sandra Scoppettone has ever created, and This Dame for Hire’s period setting is rendered so real you can hear the big band music, see the nylons and fedoras, and feel the rumble of the Third Avenue El. When it comes to an irresistible detective and a riveting new series, you must remember this: Here’s looking at Faye Quick.
An original idea a female PI working on her own in 1943 and an unusually imaginative portrait of a New York City coping, surviving, even thriving during WWII lift the first of a new suspense series from Scoppettone (Gonna Take a Homicidal Journey). Faye Quick makes a tough and touching heroine, with a voice that just cries out for an actress like Ida Lupino to bring her to cinematic life. She starts as a secretary, learns everything her sleazy but charming boss knows about being a detective, then assumes charge of the agency after her employer is drafted. "Even though I looked like any 26-year-old gal ankling round New York City in '43, there was one main difference between me and the rest of the broads," Faye tells us. "Show me another Jane who did my job and I'd eat my hat." This lively, slightly mocking tone continues at perfect pitch, as Quick finds the dead body of a missing young woman on a snowy street, then is hired by the victim's parents to catch the killer. There are echoes of Chandler and Hammett in the distance, but the plot offers some fresh surprises. Best of all, Quick's 1943 New York looks like old magazine and newspaper photographs come to life not faded but enhanced by the passage of time.