Katy Green is a working musician in the years leading up to World War II, struggling to make a living in tough times. But her gigs lead her into adventures with murder and mayhem.
Katy is what mystery writers call an accidental detective: someone who does not seek out mysteries to solve, but is nonetheless drawn into them. She has a quick mind, and a rudimentary skill in ju-jitsu, which she acquired to fend off “wolves.” But sometimes these are mixed blessings: the former leading her to jump to conclusions; the latter making her think she’s stronger than she really is.
Katy tells her own stories; and first-person narration is intimate, allowing the audience to listen in as Katy works her way through the clues, and deals with threats. But it also risks allowing her mistakes to carry the same weight as her insights.
In Too Dead to Swing she joins an all-female Swing band on tour in California, only to discover that someone is killing off her bandmates. In A Fugue in Hell’s Kitchen, Katy helps a friend who’s accused of stealing a rare manuscript from a classical music conservatory in New York City’s roughest neighborhood. And in The Last Full Measure, Katy joins the dance-band on the S.S. Lurline, en route to Hawaii on the eve of Pearl Harbor.
Writing in a woman’s voice is challenging, for a man, but it is a lot of fun. Doesn’t everyone like to pretend, sometimes, that they’re somebody else? I feel it helps to make Katy more vivid in the audience’s mind. And I have been widely praised by reviewers, colleagues and fans for authentically rendering Katy’s voice. In writing historical fiction, an author will always take a few liberties with “actual” history, even if only by inserting fictional people into real events. But I do not rewrite history to suit my plots, nor are my stories counter-factual in any important aspect. I owe it to my audience to set the stage realistically.
I was born just after WWII, but I was fortunate in being able to ask my mother, born in 1907, about women’s life-experiences during the 1930s and ‘40s. So I was able to have Katy born in 1907 too. And I am friends with many younger women who are members of Art Deco Societies, in California and New York. They shared with me details of what women of that era wore, how they spoke, and even how they were likely to think and behave in ordinary – and extraordinary – circumstances. Katy's professional life as a musician also rings true, because I am also a musician who performs the hits of the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s.
Katy’s work life is based on that of real contemporaries, who played in all-female Swing bands and toured the country as Katy does in Too Dead to Swing. New York also has several classical music conservatories; I worked as assistant librarian in one of them. Hell’s Kitchen is a real neighborhood in Manhattan that was still home to violent youth gangs when I was a boy. And I lived in Hawaii for a long time, working as a newspaper and television reporter. The deck-plan of the S.S. Lurline hung on my office wall while I was writing The Last Full Measure, so I could accurately depict how long it took to go from place to place and deck to deck, aboard ship. And the Lurline did sail to and from Hawaii in the week before Pearl Harbor was attacked, so I could realistically plunge Katy into mortal danger on December 7th.
It's 1940, and musician Katy Green finds out how tough the road can be when she joins the Ultra Belles, a female swing band on tour in California. From the moment the band kicks off the set, you're caught in the rhythm of the music, and murder on the move.
“A strong debut.” – Publishers Weekly
“Glatzer’s atmospherics effectively evoke the swing era. Though mystery takes a backseat to band member shenanigans and wall-to-wall banter, it’s still a lively jitterbug down memory lane.” – Kirkus Reviews
“The simple, easy-going style, catty dialog, changing scenery, and nostalgic fodder for Forties music fans recommend this for larger collections.” – Library Journal
“Katy Green is a clever and resourceful amateur sleuth, who also is well developed as the mouthpiece for Glatzer's racy and entertaining tale. Immediately the reader is drawn into Katy's world, and the antics of the Ultra Belles add spice and mirth to a fairly complicated murder plot. The reader is so drawn into their escapades that Glatzer's murderer is nicely hidden. Great story!” – Shelley Glodowski, Midwest Book Review
“There's enough color and excitement for this to make a pretty good movie – at least the TV brand of movie – and it certainly takes us behind the scenes of an environment that's endlessly fascinating. It might also give quite a few young pop musical stars the chance to both act and play a kind of music we don't have much opportunity to hear anymore.” –Ron Miller, Romantic Times Book Club
“Breezy and bold as brass, capturing the heyday of swing.” –Barbara Peters, The Poisoned Pen
“Too Dead To Swing dances to a different beat and a welcome one. It moves quickly, and its quirky characters and unexpected twists make it a very enjoyable read.” –Stuart Kaminsky, Edgar Award-winning author
“Too Dead To Swing is bold as brass, bright and breezy. Katy Green is a swinging sleuth with a sassy attitude. A swell debut by Hal Glatzer.” –Kate Grilley,Macavity Award-winning author
Katy Green is a working musician in the years before World War II. It's 1939, and Katy tries to help a friend out of a jam at a classical music conservatory that ought to be a quiet oasis in Hell's Kitchen, New York's roughest neighborhood. But when Katy searches for the stolen manuscript of a string quartet by Paganini, what she finds is madness, mayhem, unexplained sudden deaths, and a fight for her very life.
“The evocation of time and place is note-perfect, the musical background richly detailed, the narration and character drawing bright and varied, the surprise solution generously clued.” – Jon L. Breen, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
“Authentic period atmosphere, current modes of social conduct, and believable plot recommend it.” – Library Journal
“Plenty of red herrings, musiker talk, vignettes of a grubby (and sometimes violent Depression-era New York.” – Historical Novels Review
“The diva of recorded voices, Barbara Rosenblat, is given free reign to morph through a kaleidoscope of characters in this sharply written mystery. The story, a charming capsule of 1930s city life, rolls along, taking on sparkle and vibrancy, thanks to our reader’s enthusiasm and wide range of dead-on accents and moods.” – AudioFile magazine, reviewing the audio-play.
A pleasure cruise, a treasure hunt, swing music, and murder? who could ask for anything more? In late November 1941, swing musician Katy Green joins two old friends in a dance band on the SS Lurline en route to Honolulu. Hidden treasure at their destination could make them rich, but murder as well as World War II is in the offing.
The Last Full Measure is available as a trade paperback or ebook.
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“Those who love the music of the big band era will enjoy Glatzer’s lightweight third Katy Green historical . . . which portrays the life of working musicians (or, more often, looking-for-work musicians) with authority and charm.” – Publishers Weekly
“Glatzer hits all the right notes in a pulse-pounding period piece set in the days leading up to the one that will live in infamy. The historical detail is right on the button. The Last Full Measure rocks, swings, and does the hula. It’s a rare book that has you biting your nails and tapping your feet. Don’t miss it.” – Parnell Hall, Edgar and Shamus award-nominated author