It is the mid-1930s -- the time of the Great Depression. F.D.R. is in the White House, Hitler has risen to power in Germany and, in Boston, something not quite kosher is going on at the Classic Clothing Company. But so what if it is? Belle Appleman, the young widow recently hired for the Pants department, knows how lucky she is that her friend from Evening English, Nate Becker, was able to get her the job at all. Belle is with Nate, taking a Sunday walk on the Esplanade, when the sight of a body in the Charles River makes her drop her maple walnut ice cream cone and send Nate for the police. But it is Nate who identifies the drowned woman: she is Jeanette Laval, show steward in Pants, object of frequent whistles from the store's male employees and well-founded gossip from the female staff. Belle, a long-time devotee of True Detective magazine, jumps at the chance to put her acquired knowledge into practice, and in spite of warnings from her friends, she embarks on a search for the killer. Belle soon learns that "detectiving" can be dangerous, but that doesn't stop her from shooting her questions at everyone from the boss's son's fiancee to the victim's mother. She also has more personal reasons for her nosiness -- is the union's business manager, "a regular Nelson Eddy", romancing her because of her charms or with some ulterior purpose? Not locked doors, attempts on her life, plant politics nor union strife -- not even another murder -- can dissuade the determined Belle. The authors have wonderfully evoked those contentious and colorful times and created a warm and memorable character in the irrepressible Belle Appleman, garment worker, union member and sleuth.