FANCY ANDERS GOES TO WAR
By Max Allan Collins
Illustrated by Fay Dalton
During World War Two, so many of America’s
sons went off fight a war, it fell on America’s daughters to keep the
homefront afloat. Now for those mothers and wives living on farms and ranches,
none of this was new as they already knew what hard labor was all about.
Whereas their city-cousins who had only punched a clock behind a store counter
or handled a typewriter, they were not at all prepared for the noisy, sweaty,
production factories they were required to keep working. The war effort needed
lots of planes and tanks and lots of other vital military equipment. Thus in
the thousands these gals put aside their lipsticks for head scarves, high-heels
for work boots and rolled up their sleeves to do their part. Thus was born Rosy
Considering the five long years the war lasted, we’ve always
been amazed that Hollywood for the most part has
ignored this phenomenon of a woman dominated America and only given us two major
productions centered on the period. The first being the horrendous 1984 “Swing
Shift” directed by Jonathan Damme and starring Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Its
intentions might have been good, but the story was bland and boring. As for the
second, we’ll get to that eventually.
Now mystery writer Max Allan Collins has turned his always
active imagination to that subject matter in “Fancy Anders Goes To War,” and delivers
a short, fun and exciting tale debuting a wonderful new character. Francine
Anders’ father operates a private investigation business out of Los Angeles. When he is
called away to Washington
to help with the establishment of the military’s new intelligence department,
he leaves Fancy behind to manage the office. What he assumes will be simple
record keeping and maintenance stuff.
What Anders senior couldn’t foresee was the death of a young
woman at the Amalgamated Aircraft Factory. Although reported as an accident, the owner of
the firm has suspicions to the contrary. Being a good friend of the family, he suggests
that Fancy investigate. With the help of a city detective, she agrees and soon
goes undercover as a new employee. Once again, Collins sets the stage with
detailed historical accuracy as Fancy finds herself working with other
patriotic, self-sacrificing women unafraid to get their hands dirty and willing
to take on any job that will help America win the war. Yet working
side by side with these women, and their male supervisors, might be a murderer.
Fancy’s challenge is not only to uncover the killer but at the same time the
motive for the crime.