MISS TREADWAY & THE FIELD OF STARS by Miranda Emmerson, HarperCollins.
An exquisite glimpse into the 1960s twilight world of London’s Soho night-workers – revue dancers, musicians, taxi drivers and journalists – scudding aside for the morning shift of barrow boys, flower sellers, shop girls and backstreet abortionists. The debut novel from a distinguished British playwright, it features theatre dresser Anna Treadway, a chameleon character who enters stage left, bookish, then exits right, flirtatious, hitching her skirt to get what she desires. Actress Iolanthe left her performance in The Field of Stars to go back to her hotel, but has not been seen since. Anna gathers a cast of friends to help find her, and they poke their noses in where they’re not welcome. Iolanthe’s dark secret is the clue to the mystery, but this book’s strength is in its snapshot of a city in changing times.